By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
WEST POINT – Kathleen Gallagher built a three-hole lead, then held on for dear life Thursday against Ally McDonald to win the 2013 Mississippi Women’s Golf Association State Amateur Championship.
Gallagher, a 16-year-old Pillow Academy golfer, won the match play 1-up on the 18th hole just before rain hit Old Waverly. Officials said she may be the youngest to win the event.
“I struggled at the beginning. Well, I wouldn’t really call it a struggle,” said McDonald, a former IAHS golfer and sophomore All-American at Mississippi State. “Kathleen made a few big birdie putts at the beginning, a lot of momentum for her.”
Both won rain-delayed semifinal matches earlier in the day – 36 total holes for Gallagher, 35 for McDonald, the two-time defending champ.
With Gallagher up one on the final hole, McDonald hit the trees. Gallagher went in the water, but McDonald’s aggressive shot from the trees also went in the water and the two tied the hole, each with a bogey.
“My drive kind of got in the wind and flew a little bit further than I anticipated,” McDonald said. “I had an opening and tried to be a little more aggressive because I needed to win the hole.”
Gallagher, in her fourth State Am, was surprised McDonald was so aggressive. She said she was also surprised when she built a three-hole lead.
Putting aided that lead, a big make on Par 4 No. 6.
“It was uphill, about 15 feet,” Gallagher said. “On 7, I knocked it pretty stiff and made an awesome putt there to make it two in a row. That gave me a lot of confidence.”
Gallagher, the daughter of former PGA Tour member Jim Gallagher, Jr., became the fourth family member to win a State Am. Her mother,11-time winner Cissye, lost in the semifinal 3 and 1 to McDonald. Kathleen Gallagher won her semifinal 2-up against Shannon Adams.
Gallagher’s sister Mary Langdon is a senior teammate of McDonald’s at MSU. The three have played competitive golf together since they were juniors.
“I had some opportunities, but the hole gets a lot smaller after your competitor drains a birdie putt,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t get the putts to fall, but Kathleen played great.”