Back on her home course, former Weber golfer Kelsey Chugg wins ‘elusive’ fifth championship

Back on her home course, former Weber golfer Kelsey Chugg wins ‘elusive’ fifth championship

Chugg beat BYU sophomore Adeline Anderson for the Women’s State Am title.

(Randy Dodson | Fairways Media) Back at Ogden Golf and Country Club, the course she grew up playing, Kelsey Chugg won her “elusive” fifth Women’s State Amateur championship Thursday.

Ogden • Kelsey Chugg’s golf ball took a big bounce and struck the flagstick on the No. 2 green, settling 2 feet from the hole in what she labeled “a gift,” after having struck her chip shot too firmly.

A few hours later, on the par-3 No. 18, Chugg’s ball landed softly enough to stay on the ledge instead of trickling down the steep slope in front of the green, much to her relief.

Chugg definitely earned her 1-up victory over BYU sophomore Adeline Anderson in Thursday’s 18-hole final match of the 116th Women’s State Amateur at Ogden Golf & Country Club. Yet some degree of destiny may have factored into her fifth title, an achievement that was made more satisfying by where it happened and how long it took.

She spent childhood summers in Ogden and played for Weber State, so the 31-year-old Chugg enjoyed winning on one of her favorite courses. Chugg aptly described her fifth championship as “elusive,” considering that after her first victory in 2012, she won three more times in the next five years. No. 5 took four attempts, with two semifinal losses and a defeat in the 2020 final match (she didn’t compete in 2019).

Chugg’s first title in her 30s also was the first that required winning five matches, after the Utah Golf Association’s expansion to a 32-golfer bracket. And in the last three rounds, she outplayed BYU golfers Kerstin Fotu, Berlin Long and Anderson.

“These girls are good,” Chugg said, but she was even better at the Ogden course, where she was disappointed to lose in the quarterfinals in 2014 in her bid for a third straight title.

Chugg, the associate director of Salt Lake City’s golf program, now ranks No. 6 all-time in victories in a tournament that has produced a series of dominant performers. She’s the first five-time winner since Bev Nelson claimed the last of her eight titles in 1979.

Nelson and six-time champions Florence Halloran, Helen Hofmann Bertagnole, Mary Lou Baker and Marcia Thayne are in the Utah Golf Hall of Fame. Chugg, who won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur undoubtedly will join them someday. And now that she’s more than halfway to Nelson’s record, she’s even more motivated to keep chasing it.

“I kind of got my spark back,” said Chugg, who won the UGA’s Mary Lou Baker Open in June.

“Overall, her game was on point,” said Anderson, who was mostly happy with her own performance after being upset in the first round as the No. 1 seed last year at Oakridge Country Club.

Anderson’s short game “impressed myself,” she said, “just because I’ve been working hard on it.”

The Southern California native hoped to become the third BYU golfer in four years to win the Women’s State Am. Fotu (2019) and Lila Galeai (2021) each lost in this week’s quarterfinals. They watched their teammate play Thursday; so did BYU coach Carrie Roberts, who 20 years ago finished second to Annie Thurman Young in Ogden in the tournament’s stroke-play era.

Anderson came out firing in the final round, hitting an 8-iron second shot to within 3 feet on the par-5 No. 1 to set up an eagle. Chugg’s fortunate chip and Anderson’s three-putt green on No. 2 started a couple of trends. Seven holes on the front nine would be won and lost, while Anderson had trouble judging the speed on long putts, sending her to the back nine 3 down.

She won Nos. 11 and 12, though, and kept applying pressure. Chugg won the par-5 No. 16 with a 6-foot birdie putt, but bladed a bunker shot and lost No. 17.

That brought the club’s finishing hole into play, with a demanding tee shot. Anderson hit the green; Chugg, perhaps luckily, ended up close enough to putt from off the green. Her ball then stopped 4 feet beyond the hole, and her par-saving putt evoked some fist-pumping emotion.

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