Two favorites hooked up in an exciting match on the final day of the Women's State Amateur golf tournament at Crooked Creek Golf Club in London.
April Emerson and defending champ Karisa Akin split the previous four State Am titles, taking turns winning the title since 2009. This time, Emerson won, 1-up.
"I'm glad we both were on our 'A' games and had a true, just all-out match," Emerson said Thursday.
Emerson (Russell County High School) just finished her senior year at Eastern Kentucky University. Akin (Central Hardin) graduated from Middle Tennessee State University a year ago.
Akin took the early lead. She was 2-up after three holes and extended it to a 3-up lead after the fifth.
Emerson charged back, and made up ground on the back nine.
"Whoever wins their holes on the back will win," Akin said. "I just had mine on the front and she had hers on the back."
Emerson's comeback had an unlikely beginning, after her tee shot put her in the watery rough on the ninth hole.
"I was about a foot deep in the mud at the hazard but my ball was sitting up," Emerson said.
She took off her shoes and socks to make the shot. "It turned out to be a good shot and I ended up winning the hole." She put her second shot on the green and two-putted the hole for the win.
She pulled within one after winning the 11th hole.
A mistake on the 12th might have cost Akin the match. She hit her tee shot near the water hazard. She hit her next shot onto the green to make up for the error, but there was one problem.
She didn't hit her ball.
"I looked down and thought it was my ball cause it was a Callaway and it had a red number on it," Akin said. She realized her ball was actually in the water once she made it to the green. Akin had to forfeit the hole and the match was even.
Akin rebounded and they were tied going to the 17th.
Emerson looked to be in trouble when she hit her tee shot into the bunker and Akin hit the fairway. But Emerson made another recovery shot to the green, and two-putted her way to winning the hole. The two played even on the 18th, giving Emerson the win.
Emerson's victory run started slowly. After shooting a 5-over-par 78 in the qualifying round on Monday, she almost didn't make it out of her first match on Tuesday.
"I got into a four-hole playoff so I was just lucky to even be here," Emerson said. She defeated West Jessamine senior-to-be Grace Rose in her next match.
She gained confidence as the week drew on and was able to redeem last year's loss.
"Last year she beat me but I wanted to come out and beat her this year," Emerson said. "It was exciting."