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Kelsey Chugg looking for 4th State Amateur title at Victory Ranch this week

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I love this golf course. It’s unbelievable — it’s so exclusive and that makes it special. It’s a tough golf course from tee to green, and anywhere around par is a great score. – Kelsey Chugg

FRANCIS — When she won the Women’s State Amateur four years ago at Logan Country Club, it was the first golf tournament Kelsey Chugg had ever won.

It’s seems a bit astonishing, looking back at all the events Chugg has won since then, including three Mary Lou Baker Opens and two more State Amateurs, to think that Chugg hadn’t even won a junior tournament until she was 21 years old and a junior at Weber State.

“The first tournament I ever won was the State Am at Logan Country Club in 2012, so this is my favorite tournament,” she said. “It’s sort of like my major. I love being out here every year, no matter what happens. It’s always fun and my favorite time of the year.”

The 25-year-old Chugg will be looking for her fourth State Amateur title in the past five years when the annual tournament takes place this week at Victory Ranch Golf Club, one of the newest and most exclusive golf clubs in the state.

The Women’s Am begins Tuesday with 18 holes of stroke play followed by 18 more on Wednesday. The low 16 golfers will qualify for match play, which begins Thursday with two rounds, followed by the semifinals and finals on Friday.

Chugg is the defending champ, having won last year at Hidden Valley, defeating BYU golfer Brooklyn Hocker 5 and 4. Her previous State Am wins came at Logan in 2012 when she defeated 13-year-old Naomi Soifua and in 2013 when she beat Sirene Blair 4 and 3 at Wasatch Mountain State Park GC.

Blair was the only golfer to break Chugg’s string of State Amateur wins at Ogden Country Club in 2014, but that year Chugg was upset in the quarterfinals by Weber State golfer Emily Podlesny. Blair, who plays for San Diego State, will not be playing this week, having qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Springfield, Pennsylvania.

Chugg works as the membership director at the Utah Golf Association and still has aspirations to play on the LPGA Tour. She plans to try the LPGA Q School in the fall, while keeping her amateur status. She is excited to be playing the Women’s Am at Victory Ranch Golf Club, which opened in 2009 and doesn’t have a large number of members and has hosted just a handful of golf tournaments.

“I love this golf course,” Chugg said. “It’s unbelievable — it’s so exclusive and that makes it special. It’s a tough golf course from tee to green, and anywhere around par is a great score.”

This will mark the largest field for the Women’s Am since it went to match play back in 2010 with 57 golfers. In the past, just a handful of golfers had a chance to win, but Chugg estimates that “half the field” have a legitimate chance this year with several collegiate golfers entered as well as some out-of-state amateurs.

Among the top golfers to watch besides Chugg are 17-year-old Soifua, who recently won the women’s stroke play tournament, two-time medalist Lea Garner, who just finished playing for BYU, and last year’s finalist, Hocker.

Other collegiate golfers in the field include BYU’s Kendra Dalton and Lauren Atkinson, Utah Valley’s Monica Yeates, Carly Dehlin, Kimberly Nyhus and Isabella Lesa, Weber State’s Kiselya Plewe, Hayley Chugg, Xena Motes and Aspyn Mossman and Dixie State’s Katie Perkins, Cobair Collinsworth and Kaitlynn Hanberg.

Top high school golfers to watch include Laura Gerner, Jessica Sloot, Kerstin Fotu, Gracie Richens and Tess Blair.

Former State Am champions in the field include Sue Nyhus and Julie McMullin.