SOUTH OGDEN — Former Weber State golfer Kelsey Chugg was shaking in her shoes as she gingerly placed a Numeral 1 Titleist Pro V1 ball in front of her marker on the 18th green at the Ogden Golf and Country Club on Thursday morning.
Moments later she was shaking a fist pump at the hole after she putted the dimple dandy 3 1/2 feet down a steep slope and into the jar for a 1-up victory over BYU’s Adeline Anderson in the 116th Utah Women’s State Amateur Championship.
“It was a right edge putt and I just told myself to keep my head down, stay still, and I hit it,” Chugg said. “It felt good and I looked over and I saw it go right toward the middle.”
Chugg had come to the par-3, 158-yard 18th tee box with that one-hole lead but chunked her 7-iron, which narrowly avoided rolling all the way back down the hill to the bottom of a gulley. Then, she was a little overly aggressive on an uphill putt and ran it nearly 4 feet above the hole. Anderson was on the green in one shot.
“(Tee shot) was just soft enough that it stayed up,” Chugg said. “I wanted to give the putt a good stroke and try to get it there. Obviously, I would have like to have been a little closer than that, but I had a feeling (Anderson) would probably make her putt” — she didn’t — “so it was like give this a chance; try and end it here.
“I was excited to not have to play another hole, especially since she eagled it (hole No. 1) this morning.”
Speaking of dimples, Chugg flashed a radiant smile as she realized she had captured her fifth State Amateur Championship, adding to her 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 titles.
“Mostly relief. A lot of relief when I saw the ball go in the hole,” Chugg said. “I put more time in on my game this year than I have the last few years and kind of got my joy and spark back — and my love for the game is back. It’s fun to come out and see some of that work pay off.”
Those five championships have come on five different courses, but this one has special meaning for Chugg, with her bonding to Weber State and the Ogden community where she grew up in her early years.
“Being able to have some friends and family out here, and the Ogden ties — it’s amazing. It does feel like a home course,” Chugg said. “This one means a lot; it’s been elusive. I’ve been close the last few years. I like this one.”
Anderson had an advantage off the tees with booming drives but she was erratic on the greens, carding three three-putts, with four one-putts. Chugg one-putted four greens on the front nine alone and did not three-putt the entire round.
“I got here a little earlier than normal today; just to hit a few extra putts. I was feeling a little shaky yesterday afternoon but I just tried to come in with the same mindset of let’s make a bunch of birdies and use my experience on this course,” Chugg said. “Fortunately, I had some putts fall on the front nine and that helped a ton.”
With Chugg hitting first on most approach shots, she tried to turn a negative into a positive.
“I felt like I was hitting it really well and I’ve played this golf course a bunch. Hitting first into some of the greens, I think was an advantage because I was able to put some pressure on and not have to worry about what she was doing. So in a way, it was a bit of an advantage for me today.”
Anderson twice went one-up on the first four holes, but Chugg pulled even again with a birdie on the par-4 fifth hole and took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-5 sixth.
Chugg was actually in the left rough on six, pitched out, then nestled an iron close to the hole for a one-putt, while Anderson was on in two, but three-putted.
“When I made the putt on (No. 5), I felt really calm, so the next four or five holes, I kind of locked in,” Chugg said. “I felt like the momentum went in my favor; it was nice to build up a lead going into the back nine. I definitely putted better on the front.”
A 3-up lead after nine holes was pared to one after the 12th hole, but Chugg maintained that margin until the par-five 16th where she made an improbable birdie to go 2-up with two to play.
“The up and down I made on 16 today has to be one of the best I’ve ever had; left of that par-5 green — I mean, you don’t hit it over there,” Chugg said. “I played it just right, to release and I made the putt. That one felt really good and I knew it was in.”
Match-play format then saved Chugg as she hit it in the sand on her second shot at No. 17, blew her wedge over the green and never even putted. But all it cost was one hole of her two-hole lead.
With veteran nerves of steel, Chugg closed it with the clutch putt on 18, becoming only the sixth player to have won the championship at least five times.
“It’s amazing. It’s super cool to think about those who were pioneers of women’s golf and to follow in their footsteps,” Chugg said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get to eight (the all-time record), but I’ll keep trying.”