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Mathis takes juniors title in sudden death

By Staff
CHIPPER CHAMPION Amanda Mathis chips to the No. 15 pin during the championship round of the Girls State Am golf tournament at Briarwood Country Club Wednesday morning.Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
June 19, 2003
Amanda Mathis entered the second round of the Mississippi Women's Golf Association Junior Girls State Am Wednesday morning looking squarely at a six-stroke deficit and needing to pass three solid golfers to repeat as tournament champion.
Thanks to a blistering 4-under par 70, the 2003 Picayune graduate and Mississippi State signee was able to successfully defend her title.
Mathis and Alexis Rather of Tupelo both finished at 147. Katherine Jones of Jackson was one stroke back at 148 and Leigh Phillips of Meridian was fourth, two strokes off the pace.
Mathis defeated Rather on the second playoff hole after both finished the 36 holes of regulation tied at 1-under-par 147 on the wet Briarwood Country Club Course.
Through the front nine Wednesday, Jones, a two-time champion (2000 and 2001), had taken a two-stroke lead with a birdie binge on five of the last six holes.
Jones, a senior at Jackson Academy, was 4-under with nine holes remaining, while Rather and Phillips were both 2-under, and Mathis was 1-over.
Jones was 3-under with four holes left, while Rather was 1-under and Mathis and Phillips were at even par.
Disaster struck Jones on the par-5, 417-yard 15th hole as she took a double-bogey 7. Mathis birdied, her third in a four-hole stretch, to leave both 1-under. Rather also birdied No. 15, along with No. 14, to lead by a stroke. Phillips was at even-par.
Rather fell into a three-way tie with Jones and Mathis at 1-under by three-putting No. 16, a 114-yard, par-3.
Rather and Mathis parred the final two holes to finish regulation 1-under. Jones narrowly missed making it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard as she bogeyed No. 18 to finish the tournament at even-par. Phillips closed out 1-over.
Rather nearly seized the win in regulation as her long putt from the fringe on No. 18 stopped inches short of falling for a tournament-winning birdie.
Mathis and Rather both bogeyed the first playoff hole with Mathis missing from four feet after Rather had already taken bogey.
Rather, a sentimental favorite after finishing second in 2001 and 2002, bogeyed the second extra hole by lipping out a three-foot putt and this time Mathis drained her short putt for her second-straight juniors title here.
Rather had 35 putts in Wednesday's 76, five more than Mathis.
In the 13-15 age group which plays nine holes, Britany Hanna of Pontotoc had a 45 Wednesday for a two-day 88, two strokes better than Shauna Allen of Greenville. Both took 31 putts in their two rounds.
Sarah Beth Fouts of Meridian was third with a 90, while Mary Kate Byrne of Natchez came in fourth at 108.
In the 10-12 age group which plays nine holes from a shorter distance, Shelby Sandifer of Florence closed with a 40 Wednesday to finish at 81, nine strokes better than Greenwood's Mary Langdon Gallagher. Sandifer needed only 35 putts in the two rounds, while Gallagher took 45.
Brittany Johnson of Meridian was third with a 114, while Taylor Dunn of Brandon had a 132.
Next year's tournament will be held in the Jackson area.

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