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Baker & Thomas in Final of Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur; Folsom & Stouffer in Mid-Amateur


The championship matches have been set as Amanda Baker of Nanaimo, B.C. and Chessey Thomas of Spokane will face off tomorrow morning at the 111th Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur at Bear Mountain Golf Resort in Victoria, B.C., and Leslie Folsom of Seattle, Wash. and Shelly Stouffer of Nanoose Bay, B.C. will look to claim the 11th Pacific Northwest Women's Mid-Amateur.

Baker, a member of the North Carolina State women's golf team, earned two wins Thursday, the first coming against University of Colorado commit and No. 1 seed, Megan Haase of Spokane 2 & 1 in the morning quarterfinal match that saw six lead changes. Baker calmed her nerves to pull away at the end. "I felt like the underdog and did not feel any pressure. We did not play too well but I was able to make a few putts," Baker said.

In the afternoon semifinal, Baker faced Sydney Kersten, the No. 5 seed from Spokane and again the match was close up to the end. The two began the 12th hole all-square before Baker stuck her approach to two feet and birdied to go 1-up. "That was a big birdie, but the momentum really changed on 13," Baker said.

After an errant tee shot ended up on the cart path to the right of the 13th fairway, Baker decided to play from the cart path and gave herself an opportunity for a par. "I picked it clean (off the cart path) and was able to make a crucial up and down." Baker won two of the next three holes to seal the 3 & 2 win and advance to the championship match.

"I've played Chessey before. She's a really good player. I'll need to lay low, get some rest, and come out ready to play more consistent," said Baker, a bit of a newcomer to match play. "I don't really know how to play match play but it's working out."

Thomas is more experienced in the format, having made it to the Round of 32 in the 2010 Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur and quarterfinals last year. She faced Kaitlyn Oster of Portland in the quarterfinals, a match that provided plenty of fireworks. With a birdie on the par-4 11th hole, Thomas jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable 4-up lead, but Oster, a member of the University of Idaho women's golf team, responded with three birdies in the next five holes to pull all-square through 16 holes.

"She was playing really well there, when she was making birdies," said Thomas. "It was really back and forth. She deserves a lot of credit for that." Thomas then won the final two holes for a 2 & 1 triumph. "I was able to make a couple good approach shots in the final two holes and kind of put it away. It was tough, though. She played really well."

In the semifinal against Aubrie Street of Medford, Ore., Thomas again built a sizeable lead, this time 3-up through 13 holes, against a gritty opponent who would not give up. Street battled back with birdies on the par-5 15th and the par-4 17th to cut Thomas' lead to 1-up.

"To her credit, she made birdies coming in and was able to be the aggressor," Thomas said. With a 1-up lead entering the final hole of the day, Thomas made birdie to finish off Street, 2-up, and advance to her first Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur final. "Luckily, par is good enough a lot of the time and I was able to scrape a few pars and get by. A lot of credit to them because they took a few chances and it paid off," Thomas said about the finish.

Thomas and Baker will tee off at 7:30 a.m. in Friday's 36-hole championship match.

In the Women's Mid-Amateur Championship, No. 2 seed Shelly Stouffer completed another impressive day to advance to the finals and face No. 4 seed Leslie Folsom of Seattle, Wash. In her quarterfinal, Stouffer used six birdies in 13 holes to knock off Jane Harris of Seattle 7 & 5. "Yeah, that was very fun. It gave me a nice cushion," Stouffer said about her start.

With the win, Stouffer moved on to face No. 3 seed and two-time Pacific Northwest Women's Mid-Amateur champion Alison Murdoch of Victoria. Murdoch showed her moxie early, taking a 1-up lead through the first four holes, but Stouffer surged into the lead with back-to-back birdies on the par-3 sixth and the par-4 seventh, a lead she would not relinquish en route to a 4 & 2 win. "I was just trying to play steady and play my own game," she said. As for the championship match, Stouffer's approach is simply to "go play golf."

In contrast to Stouffer, who led for much of the day, Folsom showed considerable resolve to battle back from deficits in both her quarterfinal and semifinal matches. In the quarters against No. 5 seed Bree Sharratt of Victoria, Folsom found herself 2-down through nine before playing the back nine at 1-over-par to slip past Sharratt, 1-up. Folsom then moved on to face two-time Mid-Amateur champion, Lisa Smego of Olympia, Wash. "She's tough," said Folsom, about Smego. "You have to grind and play good golf, and there is a bit more pressure because you know she will not falter."

Smego, who also won the Pacific Northwest Women's Amateur in 1990, started strong with a birdie on the par-4 third and built a 2-up lead through five. But Folsom responded with a birdie on the par-4 eighth to push the match to all-square. "I just didn't panic, tried to stay calm, and worked my way back in it," she said when asked about facing another deficit. "Fortunately, I took advantage of a couple opportunities and grabbed the momentum."

The match was all square through the 15th, but Folsom won the next two holes to finish off Smego, 2 & 1. When asked about facing Stouffer in the championship match, Folsom responded, "She (Stouffer) has the advantage with her length so I'll have to look for my chances, take advantage of my opportunities, and putt well."

The 18-hole championship match between Stouffer and Folsom will begin at 8:00 a.m. Friday.

The above report is courtesy of the PNGA. For more information and live scoring, visit www.thepnga.org.