Gumm wins first Women's State Am in third trip to finals

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJune 27, 2014 

At this time last year, Lydia Gumm spent the day in rehab after wrist surgery.

Far away from her Kentucky home, the Florida State University sophomore would check frequently for scores and updates from the Women's State Amateur.

She hated not being home. She hated more not being able to play in the event that she had been a part of since elementary school.

"It stunk not getting to come home," Gumm recalled Friday. "I love this tournament so much and that was hard."

In her final update last year, Gumm saw that friend April Emerson had won her third championship in five years.

Fast forward a year and Gumm was facing Emerson in the championship round of the match-play event at Lakeside Golf Course in Lexington.

It was the third time that the former North Hardin standout had faced Emerson in the title round, but it was the first time Gumm was able to claim the winner's trophy in the 88th Women's State Am.

Gumm, 20, couldn't stop smiling, even as she described the heartbreak of sitting out last summer after having surgery to repair a small tear in her wrist, an overuse injury that had been nagging her since high school.

"It's been kind of a struggle, but I'm very blessed," Gumm said after topping the defending champ 4 and 3.

"I used it as motivation really. Today I felt like I had to do what I had to do."

Playing and losing in two previous championship rounds in 2009 and 2011 to Emerson, a former standout at Eastern Kentucky University, was a bit of motivation, too.

But Gumm accepted the challenge and used long drives to bounce back from a rough start and birdie several holes midway through and grab some breathing room.

"I was nervous for sure, but I just felt really comfortable out there, just felt different than in the past, more within myself, I guess, and confident in my game," Gumm said. "I'm so happy it ended up this way."

It also was special for Gumm's dad, Greg, who was her caddie in the event. He was the first to hug her as she left the green looking relieved with her arms in the air.

"She's played in this thing 10 years or so and third time in the finals," he said. "She's had some opportunities before and I was so happy to see her get it this time."

He was especially happy to see Gumm, who had to survive a 20-hole semifinal round Thursday, bounce back so well after last June's surgery on her left wriste.

"It's taken her awhile to come back, but she hit the ball well all week and she's getting her game back and really enjoys playing," he said. "It's been a good year for her."

Gumm, who was 24-under for the week, is hopeful that her good year will continue in the next couple of weeks, which include trips to the Kentucky Open and the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in Dupont, Wash.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader.

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