Back-nine rally lifts UK recruit to Miley title

Oh, how a couple of hours — and one big putt — matter.

After the final-round front nine of the Marion Miley golf tournament Friday at Lexington Country Club, it appeared Ashlee Rose was all but done.

A 5-over-par 41 on the front side put the University of Kentucky recruit three shots off the pace, and her score was only getting worse.

A double bogey on seven and back-to-back bogeys on eight and nine knocked Rose from her first-round lead. Yet, she never counted herself out.

Rose knew what it would take to turn her final-round collapse into a thrilling comeback.

“I told myself I have to shoot 3-under on the back to win,” Rose said.

She couldn't have been more right.

Rose fired a 3-under 33 Friday on the back nine to capture the 63rd annual Marion Miley title. Rose's 3-over 147 total score edged Louisville Sacred Heart's Lindsay Gahm (4-over 148) and two-time champion Pam duPont (5-over 149).

Rose got within one shot after duPont — the leader through 45 holes — double-bogeyed 12 and Gahm double-bogeyed 14.

But the biggest swing in momentum came on the 15th hole when Rose drilled a 45-foot uphill putt from the front of the green.

“I was like, ‘Ashlee, do not leave this short,' because I hate being short,” Rose said of the putt. “I didn't want to be over the hole either, but I really wasn't thinking about that. I was just thinking get it up the hill.”

The birdie gave Rose sole possession of the lead and all the momentum she needed to close out the three-way battle.

She stuck an 80-yard shot within a foot on the next hole for another birdie, and held on for the one-shot win despite Gahm's birdie on 17.

The final threesome exchanged shots, and the lead all day. All three players at one point shared the lead, but nobody stretched the margin more than three shots.

In a battle of the ages, duPont, 47, came in with two Marion Miley titles and years of experience at Lexington Country Club.

Rose, 18, on the other hand, was competing in just her second Marion Miley and Gahm, 16, is only a junior in high school.

“I had the best view in the house. I had a ball.” said duPont, who hadn't broken 80 this year until shooting 75 and 74 on Thursday and Friday. “Whoever teaches those girls, they're doing a great job.”

Rose, who will compete in next week's Kentucky Women's Open at Spring Valley Golf Club, said she hopes to carry the momentum into next week's tournament and her first year of collegiate competition at UK in the fall.

“I've kind of taken the summer a little light this year because when I go to UK it's going to be really busy, so it's nice to have this tournament on my back going into the year,” Rose said.