Kentucky Women's Open: Blackwelder beats defending champ Gahm on first hole of playoff

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJuly 9, 2014 

NICHOLASVILLE — With things to do and places to be, Mallory Blackwelder took care of business as quickly as she could Wednesday.

Blackwelder, from Versailles, drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to edge defending champion Lindsay Gahm in the Lexmark Kentucky Women's Open at Keene Run Golf Club.

Afterward, Blackwelder and fiancé Julien Trudeau were off on a drive part-way to New York, "which is another reason I wanted a short playoff," Blackwelder said with a laugh.

The couple, who will be married in September, are en route to the British Open. Trudeau, who worked for Blackwelder in this tournament, caddies for Graham DeLaet on the PGA Tour.

Blackwelder, 27, is in the midst of a three-week break from the Symetra Tour. The next scheduled Tour event for the former Woodford County High School and University of Kentucky standout is in two weeks at Albany, N.Y.

She said playing here was a last-minute decision, signing up about an hour before entries closed.

She shot 69-72—141 over two days on the par-72 layout to earn $1,750. Gahm, from Louisville and who recently completed her collegiate career at LSU, carded a 71-70—141. UK sophomore Haley Mills completed the threesome and finished in third at 71-72—143.

With a 2-stroke lead to start the day, Blackwelder made the turn Wednesday with a par 36. Gahm carded a 1-under 35 to pull to within a stroke of the lead, while Mills shot 37 to trail by 3.

Gahm tied things with a birdie-3 on the 362-yard 10th hole.

Gahm and Blackwelder each bogeyed No. 11, and Mills birdied No. 13 to edge to within a stroke of the leaders.

On the par-5 17th, Gahm saved par after chipping 12 feet past the hole.

"I think that was probably the biggest putt I made. Obviously, 18, too," Gahm said. "But 17 for sure — I knew that I didn't want to go to the last hole being one down. I got pretty lucky that one dropped in."

She came up even bigger on 18, knocking in a 35-footer for a birdie-4.

That put the pressure on Blackwelder to drain a 10-foot birdie, which she did.

"It's funny because I didn't make anything all day," Blackwelder said of her birdie-birdie finish. "I actually putted pretty poorly most of the day, until the end.

"I guess I just needed to get under the gun. That putt Lindsay made on 18, that was clutch. So I was like, 'All right, I'd better make it.'"

On the playoff hole, No. 10, Gahm missed on a birdie try from about 15 feet.

That left it to Blackwelder to close things out.

"Honestly, it was straight uphill," she said. "We kind of thought maybe it was right-center. (Trudeau) thought it was a little straighter, so I just played it straight and hit it kind of firm."

UK's Ale Walker, from Paintsville, finished in fourth at 75-72—147.

Coming in at 151 were Louisville's Katie Petrino, junior standout Ellen Kehoe of Campbellsville and Kentucky Women's Amateur champ Lydia Gumm of Radcliff.

Blackwelder's mother, Myra, a Kentucky Golf Hall of Famer, shot 75-79—154 to tie for 10th place.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com

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