Meghan Stasi was on the practice green at Coral Ridge Country Club on Friday morning when she figured out something she’d been told about her putting stroke.
That revelation could not have come at a better time, as Stasi sank five birdie putts, including a 33-footer on the final hole, to defeat Alexa Pano 5 and 4 for the Amateur division title in the 86th Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship.
“Before I teed off, I had something click from about three years ago that John Skaf told me,” said Stasi of her remarkable putting display on greens where three-putts and four-putts were not unusual during the five-day tournament. “He’s a putting genius. I wish it would’ve clicked three years ago.”
Lisa Schlesinger of Fort Myers successfully defended her Senior Championship division title, beating Terrill Samuel of Toronto 2 and 1 in a rematch of last year’s final.
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In the Senior First Flight final, Tama Caldabaugh of Ponte Vedra Beach defeated Jewell Malick of Heath, Texas, 3 and 2.
For Stasi, 39, of Oakland Park, it was her second Doherty title. The four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champ won her first Doherty in 2012.
“I think they’re all special,” said Stasi of her victories. “Each and every one has a special place in time and in my heart.
“We keep getting older and the field keeps getting younger, so any chance I get to win, I’m happy to do it.”
Pano, 13, of Lake Worth, was the defending champ and although she played well Friday, she never had a chance against the red-hot Stasi.
“She just played lights out,” Pano said. “There’s nothing you can do about that.”
After they halved the first two holes, Stasi won the par-4 third with a par after she hit out of a greenside bunker to about 15 feet and made the putt. Pano, who had been in the same bunker, missed a slightly shorter putt.
Stasi then made a 10-footer for birdie on the par-5 fourth, a five-footer on the par-3 fifth and a four-footer on the par-5 seventh to take a 4-up lead.
Bogeys by Stasi from a greenside bunker at the ninth and after hitting trees on her drive and approach shot at the 10th allowed Pano to cut her deficit to two down. But Stasi got back on track when she pitched her third shot on the par-5 11th to six feet and made the birdie putt to go three up.
“Nine and 10 got me, so I just wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything crazy on 11,” said Stasi, whose putting also was helped by her ability to leave her approach shots either below the hole or on the same level as the hole.
Stasi won the 12th hole to go four up when she two-putted for par from the top level of the par-3 green and Pano three-putted from the bottom of the steeply sloped green.
After both players two-putted for par on the par-5 13th, Pano was facing a must-make par putt on the 14th after hitting out of a greenside bunker, but Stasi ended the match with her long birdie putt.