GEORGETOWN — Lydia Gumm and April Emerson are both teenagers, but they probably aged a couple of years in the heat of competition at the 83rd Women's State Amateur at Cherry Blossom Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
Gumm and Emerson survived knee-knocking quarterfinal matches in the morning, then rode the adrenaline rush to impressive semifinal victories in the afternoon.
They will square off Friday in the championship match.
Gumm, a 15-year-old freshman-to-be at North Hardin, was tied with Lindsay Gahm going to the 18th hole in the quarterfinals.
After Gumm's tee shot almost found the lake, the left-hander had to stand in ankle-deep water to hit a 45-yard approach over bunkers.
She pulled it off, and made a match-winning par.
"My best shot ever," Gumm said with a smile. "That was big. When you win on the last hole, it's a good feeling."
Emerson, a Russell County native and 18-year-old freshman-to-be at Eastern Kentucky University, had the same kind of experience.
Going to the 17th hole of her quarterfinal showdown with Morgan Cross, Emerson was 2-up. But Cross birdied the last two holes to tie.
Emerson kept her cool, though, and birdied the first extra hole to win.
"It was stressful," Emerson said. "But being in a stressful situation and being able to come out on top always helps your confidence."
It showed in the afternoon semifinals.
Emerson took an early 2-up lead on Middle Tennessee player Karisa Akin, the reigning Kentucky Open champion, and she stayed in control before winning 3-and-1.
Not that it was an easy trip around sun-baked Cherry Blossom.
"I kept thinking on every shot, 'Dear Lord, please be with me, give me strength,'" Emerson said.
"I'm very pleased with how I played. I left some putts out there ... I hope I left them out there for tomorrow."
Gumm was dominant in her semifinal match versus Western Kentucky player Emily Wolff. She collected four birdies and was 5-up after 13 holes before winning 4-and-3.
"I feel pretty good right now," said Gumm, who was long off the tee and also showed a terrific short game.
Gumm and Emerson may be young, but they're used to pressure golf.
Emerson played on Russell County's state title teams in 2003 and '04 when she was a seventh- and eighth-grader.
Gumm has already played in six state tournaments, finishing as high as runner-up, and twice being named Miss Golf.
What would a State Am title mean?
"It would be huge," Gumm said. "It would be awesome."
Emerson is looking forward to an enjoyable finals.
"We're both good sports, and I think it'll be fun," she said of the championship match that is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m.