For Kelsey Chugg, old home week win at Women’s State Am was special for so many reasons
The former Weber State standout earned ‘one for the thumb’ and did so in her old Ogden stomping grounds
OGDEN — For Kelsey Chugg, her triumph this week at the Women’s State Amateur was special in many ways.
• Was her fifth State Am win — one for the thumb, as she put it — vaulting her into elite company with five other women who have won at least five titles.
• Happened in her old hometown, at the Ogden Golf & Country Club, a course she has played dozens of times while growing up and playing on the Weber State golf team a decade ago.
• Came five years after her last State Am win, against an improved field that included several top collegiate golfers.
The 31-year-old Chugg, who works as the associate director of golf for Salt Lake City, wrapped up a spectacular week with a 1-up victory over BYU golfer Adeline Anderson Thursday at the historic Ogden course.
“It’s super special to have it here in Ogden,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. I definitely felt I earned my spot here in the final. This has been elusive and to see some of my hard work pay off and to do it in front of some of my old teammates and family is awesome.”
Chugg, whose last State Am victory came in 2017, the same year she won the U.S. Mid-Amateur title, never trailed after taking a 1-up lead at No. 6. She extended the lead to three after nine, saw Anderson rally with a pair of wins at 11 and 12, then took a 2-up lead into the final two holes.
Chugg conceded No. 17 after blading a shot out of a bunker and hitting a tree with her next shot and needed to tie or win the 18th hole to avoid a sudden-death playoff.
So it came down to the 160-yard par-3 final hole, where Anderson landed her tee shot at the tricky par-3 25 feet from the hole. Chugg “chunked” her 7-iron and it barely stayed up on the front fringe, avoiding a 100-foot drop off the front of the green if it had traveled a yard less.
Her putt from 40 feet, went 4 feet past and she sank the par putt to close out the match and broke out in a big smile as she pumped her fist.
Chugg had steamrolled through her early matches, winning 7 and 5 in her first two matches and 5 and 4 in the quarterfinals against 2019 champion Kerstin Fotu. She led all the way with a 3-and-1 win over 2021 runnerup Berlin Long in Wednesday’s semifinals.
“It’s a challenge,” she said of her week. “I have to stay sharp and continue to work on my game. I put in more time on my game this year and have kind of gotten my spark and love for the game back. It’s fun to come back and see that pay off against these great players because these girls are good — very good.”
Anderson, who will be a sophomore at BYU, hails from Ventura, California. She was the fifth seed after stroke play and defeated Isabel Gutierrez Paillaud, Jacklyn Gonzales, Sophie Simon and former champion Tess Blair on her way to the finals.
She was happy with her play Thursday, but said, “Kelsey just made more putts than I did.”
As for winning No. 5 — she previously won in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 — Chugg is honored to join legends Florence Halloran, Helen Hoffman Bertagnole, Mary Lou Baker, Bev Nelson and Marcia Thayne, who have each won at least five State Am titles.
“It’s super cool to think they were the pioneers of Utah golf, and to follow in their footsteps is amazing,” she said.
Chugg plans to keep playing in the State Am during the next few years and with one more victory, could match Halloran, Bertagnole, Baker and Thayne, who each won six titles. Nelson’s eight wins will be hard to match.
“I don’t know if I’ll get there, but I’ll keep trying,” Chugg said.
Mike Sorensen is a contributor for the Deseret News.