MIDWAY — Kelsey Chugg hated missing last year’s Women’s State Amateur in Logan for the first time in a decade. But after qualifying for the prestigious U.S. Women’s Amateur, which was scheduled a few days after the Women’s Am, she had to make the choice to get back to Mississippi for practice rounds.
This year she’s happy to be back for the State Am, which begins Monday at Soldier Hollow, where she’ll be going for “one for the thumb,” after winning four Women’s Amateur titles over the past eight years.
“I’m just really excited to play,” said the 29-year-old former Weber State golfer, who works for the Salt Lake City Golf Division. “I haven’t played a ton this year, with not a lot of tournaments being played, but I’m hoping my short game will sharpen itself up.”
Chugg won her first State Am title in 2012 at Logan Country Club and followed it up with a win the following year at Wasatch Mountain. Then she triumphed at Hidden Valley in 2015 and again in 2017 at Davis Park. In 2018, she lost in the semifinals to Jessica Sloot, who lost to Tess Blair in the finals.
“Any time you play you should want to play the best. There are a lot of good up-and-coming players, high school girls and college girls that are still in town.” — Kelsey Chugg
Chugg will have her work cut out for her as this year’s State Am field is likely the deepest field in the history of the Women’s Am due to the influx of young talented golfers.
When the tournament was a stroke play event for many decades, it usually attracted over 100 golfers, but many were in lower flights and only a handful of players in the championship had realistic chances to win.
Since the tournament switched to a match-play format in 2010, the numbers dwindled, but this year there are 61 golfers who will be competing to get one of the 16 spots for match play.
Kerstin Fotu, who just completed her freshman season at BYU, won last year 1 up over Grace Summerhays at Logan Country Club. Both golfers are back, along with Blair, the 2018 winner. There are more than a dozen collegiate golfers representing each of the state’s colleges that field a women’s golf program, including BYU, Weber State, Southern Utah, Utah Valley and Westminster.
Also local golfers such as Carissa Graft, who was the player of the year in her conference while playing for Indiana Tech, and Laura Gerner, of the University of Idaho, will be contending this week.
Several top high school golfers will be competing, including Berlin Long, a 16-year-old who will be a junior at Lone Peak High School. She recently finished second in an AJGA event in South Dakota.
“Any time you play you should want to play the best,” said Chugg. “There are a lot of good up-and-coming players, high school girls and college girls that are still in town.”
Soldier Hollow, which is hosting the Women’s Am for the first time, will utilize the Gold Course and it will play to 6,200 yards for the women.
On Monday and Tuesday, the women will play 18-hole medal rounds and after Tuesday’s round, the field will be cut to the low 16 players. There will be two rounds of matches Wednesday with the semifinals set for Thursday morning and the finals Thursday afternoon.