The scene was all too familiar for Lachell Simmons as she faced the 18th and final hole of Monday's Utah State Ladies Am. For the fourth time in five years, Simmons found herself going into the last hole of the tournament tied with the leader for the championship.
Simmons fought her way into a tie with BYU junior Stephanie Brockbank, who owned the championship lead until the 17th. "I didn't think I was going to win it," Brockbank said after, bemoaning how badly she played on the back nine. Between Simmons' deja vu' and Brockbank's skepticism, a dramatic finish at Toana Vista Golf Course was inevitable. After great drives by both golfers, Simmons ran into trouble on her second shot from the fairway, which landed in the sandtrap on the lower right side of the green. Brockbank then broke away with a careful chip and clutch 4-foot breaking putt to seal her first State Am win."I'm happy," the 20-year old Brockbank said. "It's the only tournament I've never come close to winning." That same excitement was the main reason for Brockbank's green troubles on the back nine, thus allowing Simmons to cruise into contention.
"I was really nervous," she said. "I've never been that close and my shoulder was aching and I had the butterflies."
Most nerve racking for Brockbank was the 325 yard par-4 16th hole. After overpowering her second shot into the bunker the jitters continued as she three-putted her way to a double-bogey.
Simmons closed the gap on the par-3 17th where she shot an even par while Brockbank dropped another bogey.
"My nerves were the best today than any other time in the tournament," Simmons said. "That may be because I didn't have the lead going in." Both Simmons and Brockbank shot 38 on the front. Simmons then made a charge on No. 10 with a 19-foot birdie putt.
That putt was the only birdie shot made after the turn by Brockbank, Simmons and Sharon Probst. All three struggled to make par shots after No. 12. "The turning point was double-bogey on 13," Simmons said. "I just said, `here's my chance,' ".
After missing two close putts on 16 and 17, Brockbank won it all with a final putt at just the right time, regardless of her performance on the previous holes.
"I missed about three putts from the same length," she said of her final shot. "That helped me play it less aggressive."
The second-place finish was a tough routine to swallow for Simmons. But it was still a satisfying finish in her own mind. "I would rather have it end on the last hole than five or six holes down the course."
Probst ended her round with a total of 80 sealing third overall above Joyce Billings. Finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the championship flight were Jamie Stevenson and Stacy Tyler, who had the best rounds with 75 and 74.