Ogden • Soon after Sirene Blair went 4 holes up in the final match of the 108th Women’s State Amateur, Utah Golf Association administrators began following her and Allison Cluff with a table, chairs and trophy for the awards presentation.
Cluff made them drive all the way back across Washington Boulevard to the clubhouse before they could stage any ceremony. But after losing all of her lead, Blair steadied herself enough to win the 18th hole and claim a 1-up victory Saturday at the Ogden Golf and Country Club.
After some back-nine drama, the match ended anticlimactically when Cluff needed two swings to dig her ball out of a greenside bunker and then conceded Blair’s short par putt.
"I tried to just keep my composure," said Blair, a San Diego State sophomore from South Jordan. "The last thing you want to do is get really frazzled, so I tried to stay calm. But I definitely felt the nerves, for sure."
Blair had gone 4 up through 11 holes, only to have Cluff, who recently completed her Weber State career, win four of the next six holes. So Cluff was disappointed with the ending, but happy to have applied so much pressure to her opponent.
"I was grateful to make it to the round of 16, let alone here," Cluff said.
Her chance to at least force extra holes was short-circuited when her 9-iron shot on the par-3 No. 18 resulted in the ball’s being almost completely buried in the bunker. Blair then played conservatively with a tee shot to the left fringe and made a nice lag putt to assure herself of a winning par.
Blair, a four-time Class 5A medalist in girls golf for Bingham High School, won a collegiate tournament last fall for SDSU and was named the Mountain West freshman of the year. She reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship last month and has won several women’s tournaments in Utah, but this was her first State Am victory after two runner-up finishes.
"I kind of proved to myself that my game is coming back and it feels a lot better," said Blair, who wore an SDSU cap as her father/caddie, Robert, dressed in Aztec red and black.
In Saturday morning’s semifinals, Blair topped BYU golfer Lea Garner 3 and 1 and Cluff survived former Weber State teammate Emily Podlesny’s rally in a 1-up victory.
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