Perhaps taking her cue from the angry skies, Kristine Rohrbaugh delivered one thunderbolt after another during the final round of the 93rd Richmond Women’s Golf Association City Amateur Championship.
A fistful of clutch putts, including an 18-footer to win No. 7, a 12-footer to win No. 10 and a 45-foot monster to win No. 13, carried Rohrbaugh to a 4-and-2 victory over Boodie McGurn in Friday’s championship flight final at the steamy, spongy Country Club of Virginia Tuckahoe Creek Course. The city championship was Rohrbaugh’s second. Both have come at the expense of McGurn, a five-time winner and 13-time finalist.
Rohrbaugh’s success on the greens enabled her to control the tone and tempo of the match. Seldom did she permit McGurn to apply sustained pressure. Rohrbaugh, a 31-year-old tax accountant, laughed when asked if she regards putting as one of her strong points.
“Ha — not at all,” she said. “I just tried not to think about what would happen if I rolled a putt past the hole” on Tuckahoe Creek’s treacherously slick greens. “I pretended I was just knocking it around on the practice green at Stonehenge.” Under those circumstances, she said, “there are no consequences if I hit it past the hole or come up short.”
Rohrbaugh never trailed after winning the 297-yard 9th hole with a conceded par 4. Her transcontinental putt for a 2-up advantage at the par-4 13th seemed a tipping point. So far did the putt travel and so long did the ball roll before reaching its target that Rohrbaugh was able to coach it: “Go … go … go.”
McGurn missed five-footers by wafer-thin margins at 14 and 15. Rohrbaugh won both holes for a 3-up advantage.
“I putted really well all week,” McGurn said. “Today” — she shook her head — “I was a little bit off. I wasn’t missing by much — by a hair, usually — but the bottom line is, I was still missing. Putting was the weapon I needed to keep me in the match. Usually I have it and today I didn’t. I played fine — I just couldn’t get anything to drop.”
Rohrbaugh won for the first time in 2008. She was an 18-year old who was preparing to graduate from St. Catherine’s. Today she is an adult with perspective and maturity she did not possess as a teenager.
“This one might be sweeter,” she said. “This one might be a bigger accomplishment. Certainly it’s a different accomplishment. When you’re an adult there are things other than golf on your mind. You have to juggle work. You practice when you can, not when you want to. When I was 18, I practiced a lot. I mean, a lot. Now I practice with purpose — assuming I can find time to practice. I think I’m a better and more complete player now. I’m more poised and I can think my way around the course a lot better.”
Rohrbaugh’s poise became apparent at No. 15. McGurn seemed likely to win the hole, and bite into her opponent’s 3-up advantage, when Rohrbaugh mis-hit her approach shot. Her ball fell five yards short of the green and 60 feet short of the flag. She responded by pitching to within five feet and making the putt. A probable loss became an improbable halve when McGurn missed her five-footer.
The day began with low, dirty gray clouds and rain, heavy at times. None fell on the Rohrbaugh family’s parade. Rohrbaugh and her mother, Rica, made City Am history by becoming the first mother-daughter duo to compete on the final day of the same tournament. Rica played for the first flight championship. She was beaten by Karla Knight, but that seemed scarcely to matter in the happy aftermath of Kristine’s success.
“I had mixed emotions,” Rica said. “My goal all along was to make it to (Friday’s championship matches), but when I was there it was hard to focus on my match because I wanted so badly to watch Kristine.”
Rica said she caught brief glimpses of her daughter while playing the par-3 10th. Kristine, two groups behind, was then playing No. 9.
Said Rica: “I three-putted” No. 10, “probably because I was paying attention to what Kristine was doing when I should have been paying attention to what I was doing.”
Kristine called the accomplishment “Awesome. Two Rohrbaughs playing on the final day? I love it,” she said. “We’ll definitely have a lot to celebrate” Friday night.
Championship flight: K. Rohrbaugh d. B. McGurn 4-2. Consolation: M. Balch d. D. Kelo 3-2
First flight: K. Knight d. R. Rohrbaugh 5-4. Consolation: M. Lavinder d. P. Crowley 2-1