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RWGA City Amateur semifinalists handle the heat
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RWGA City Amateur semifinalists handle the heat

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Each player who will participate Thursday in the Richmond Women’s Golf Association City Amateur semifinals has at least one thing in common with the others: the ability to maintain focus and form when the competition is hot and the weather hotter.

A long, steamy quarterfinal day at the Country Club of Virginia’s Tuckahoe Creek course tested not only shotmaking but also endurance and concentration. Three of the four survivors made the same declaration: Shotmaking was the easier of the two trials.

“Oh, my goodness, yes — it was so hard to stay focused,” said Kristine Rohrbaugh, a 2-up winner over three-time City Amateur champion Lindsay Wortham. “The longer you’re out there, the more your mind wanders. You think about being done, about getting inside and turning on the air conditioning. You do anything you can — drink water, eat, wipe your face with a wet towel — just to stay in the moment and bring your mind back where it needs to be.”

Said reigning champion and top-seeded Nevia Cashwell, a 2-and-1 winner over Nell O’Neil: “Believe me: On a perfect day under perfect conditions, it’s hard to stay sharp and focused for 18 holes. On a day like this” — she shook her head — “it becomes even harder.”

Four-time City Amateur champion Boodie McGurn was forced to work overtime to secure her berth in the semifinals. McGurn defeated three-time winner Peggy Freeman on the first hole of a sudden death playoff. Freeman won the last two holes of regulation to send the match to overtime. But there she ran out of magic.

McGurn, hitting first, split the No. 1 fairway with her best tee shot of the day. Freeman’s tee shot skipped left and bounced off the fairway and into knee-high fescue. The fescue, evocative of a British Open course in Scotland, is regarded as a hazard at CCV. Thus, Freeman had a choice: take a drop and a penalty stroke, or swing away. She chose to swing away. Three attempts later, her ball remained tangled in deep, clinging vegetation.

“Boodie hit such a nice drive,” Freeman said. “I figured my only chance was to try to reach the green” with her second shot. “I think it was the right shot but the wrong club. I used my 9-iron when I should have used my wedge.” She recalled talking to herself during her routine before the shot. “I actually remember thinking: ‘OK — just don’t get greedy here.’”

Said McGurn: “I hated to see it end like that. I felt so bad for Peggy. You want to win, yes — but you want to win when you’re at your best and your opponent is at her best.”

Joanne Kitusky punched her ticket with a 4-and-3 victory over Brenda Baril. Kitusky, who won at Jefferson Lakeside in 2012, led by three after 11 and by four after making birdie at the par-4 13th. If she seemed consistently comfortable while others were struggling in the heat and humidity, that’s because she was.

“Brenda and I are very good friends,” Kitusky said. “We play a lot of golf together, but this was the first time we’ve ever played against one another. I felt completely relaxed. There was no stress — none whatsoever. It was fun. I was just out there enjoying a round of golf with one of my best friends. It was like playing weekend golf with the girls” at The Dominion Club.

Rohrbaugh said her duel with Wortham “seemed to go back and forth, back and forth, all day.” Rohrbaugh did what few were able to do: She emerged all but unscathed from tussles with Tuckahoe Creek’s hard, fast greens. She sank a 5-footer at No. 15 and a 10-footer at No. 17 to protect a 1-up lead. She closed out the match by winning the par-5 18th.

Cashwell and O’Neil delivered a tight, appealing match. Cashwell pulled away, finally, by winning the par-4 16th for a 2-up lead. She chipped from off the green, 30 feet from the flag, and sank a four-foot putt.

Thursday’s semifinals will match Cashwell against McGurn at 9:02 and Rohrbaugh against Kitusky at 9:10.

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