Lucidi Wins 102nd U.S. Women’s Amateur
Scarborough, N.Y. After watching her ball fade
into the 16th hole to win the U.S. Womens Amateur Saturday, 3
and 2 over Brandi Jackson, Becky Lucidi wasnt sure what to do.
After all, the fifth-year Southern Cal senior has never won a collegiate
event. The closest she came to winning a USGA championship was in 2000
at the Womens Amateur Public Links, when she was a quarterfinalist.
So she did what came naturally. She smiled, dropped her putter and
went looking for caddie Ed Conners. They embraced.
Watching from afar, last years champion Meredith Duncan
giddy with excitement -- bolted onto the green and meandered through
a crowd of people to offer her congratulations.
The passing of the baton had been completed. From one champion to another,
At the 6,190-yard, par-71 Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Lucidi, 21 and
from Poway, Calif., captured the 102nd Womens Amateur by coasting
to a 6-up lead after the first 18 holes before trying to blow out Jackson,
who came afire in the afternoon session. The match was scheduled to
go 36 holes.
Its pretty surreal right now. It looks pretty good,
said Lucidi moments after winning, trotting around with the Robert Cox
Trophy. It hasnt sunk it yet.
But it will soon, according to Duncan.
She wont quit smiling for a week, said Duncan, who
bowed out of the event with a first-match loss. When you put that
trophy up at home and its there more than a week, thats
when it sinks in.
This past summer Lucidi dreamt of what it would be like to win the
Womens Amateur and then set out to morph fantasy into reality.
The journey began as she watched the Womens Open at Prairie Dunes
Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. She was watching it on television from
her couch with her dad when she commented to him that playing with her
idols at an event like that would be the ultimate.
It means a lot [to win]. Ever since I saw the U.S. Open this
summer and saw Juli Inkster win
, said Lucidi as her voiced
trailed off. I saw Meredith Duncan tee up with [Karrie Webb] and
Se Ri Pak this year and I said, Thats pretty cool, Id
like to do that next summer. Juli Inkster is my favorite player.
Just knowing that I get to play with her next year is enough for me.
It wasnt easy though, despite taking the 6-up lead into the break.
To be honest, the 21-year-old Jackson was less than stellar, firing
the equivalent of 11 over par with one birdie, eight bogeys and two
double bogeys. The embodiment of Jacksons first 18 holes occurred
in a horrific sequence on the 9th, 10th and 16th holes.
On No. 9, Lucidi went 3 up when Jackson sent her 145-yard approach
70 yards left of the green, down a steep embankment and past two tee
boxes. Jackson had trouble getting up and down and eventually conceded
with a double bogey to Lucidis par.
On No. 10, a 139-yard par 3 that abuts water, Jackson missed a 3-footer
to win the hole outright. And on the 16th hole, Jackson again couldnt
steer in another 3-footer for the win.
I guess I was putting so much pressure on having to make both
of those that I just missed them, said Jackson, who took 35 putts
in the morning session.
After nailing all her fairways in the morning, Lucidi came apart a
bit on the second 18 holes, only striking 7 of 12. Whats more,
she regressed on greens in regulation, recording just 9 of 16 versus
11 in the morning.
Overall, she hit 22 fairways, recorded 20 greens in regulation, took
57 putts and went 3 for 5 on sand saves. She was the equivalent of 2
over in the morning and 2 over in the afternoon. By comparison, Jackson
had nailed 21 fairways, 21 greens in regulation, took 61 putts and went
1 for 2 on sand saves.
Jackson, somewhat fatigued, was embarrassed heading into the break,
saying, I wanted to go crawl in a hole after some of the shots
Instead of caving in, she and her dad had a conference before going
out again. Her father, Terry, was her caddie.
By the time I got back out there, I got it together and was like,
Lets fire at it and see what happens, said Jackson.
And she did.
On the 19th hole, she carded only her second birdie to that point and
won the hole. Then she took the next hole to cut the deficit to 4 down.
By No. 26, Jackson was only 3 down when she leaned into an 11-footer
Two holes later -- on No. 28 the same place she missed a 3-footer
for birdie in the morning, Jackson exercised those demons with a 3-foot
birdie to get the match to 2 down. However, it was as close as she would
About the time we made the turn and I birdie , it hit me,
said Jackson, when asked if she thought she had a legitimate chance
to come back and win.
Soon after, drizzle turned to heavy showers, causing a half-hour suspension
of play at 4:07 p.m. EDT. When play resumed, Lucidi pulled it together
and started sinking must-make putts.
On No. 32, still 2 up, Lucidi got up and down to about 5 feet away.
Jackson holed out, applying pressure. Lucidi drained it.
On the next hole, Jackson parred out, again forcing Lucidi to answer
back, this time flopping a shot from 31 to 7 feet. Lucidi sank the putt
to stay ahead 2 up.
The make on No. 32 was a killer, according to Jackson.
I birdied that hole almost every time I came through there,
she said. We were like, OK, this will get me one back hopefully.
Then she made that par putt.
It was really frustrating because as much as I was trying to
do my part in coming back, I was also hoping that shed let up
a little bit. But she never did.
Lucidi ended the match on the 34th hole, a par 3. Jackson sent her
tee shot to the back fringe of the green and tried to chip up, but she
left the clubface open too little, sending the ball scooting 7 feet
past the hole. A 4-foot miss later set the stage for Lucidis winner.
Jackson, who hails from Belton, S.C. and will be a senior at Furman,
is exempt from sectional qualifying for two years. The same holds true
for any player who finished in the round of 16.
I definitely have to be proud of coming back and not just giving
up, said Jackson. And, I mean, its a big thing to
be the runner-up.
For Lucidi, its the exemption into next years Womens
Open and countless thanks to her caddie, Ed Conners. Lucidi qualified
for match play at the Womens Amateur carrying her own bag. She
had put notice out that shed be interested in a caddie if the
club could provide one.
As it turned out, Conners had been heading home when one player was
a no-show. The caddiemaster called him and asked whether hed be
interested in carrying for Lucidi. He turned the car right around.
Conners has been caddieing at the club since 1961 and knows the course
inside and out. Lucidi and Conners introduction to one another
was on the practice range on the first day of match play.
After a few shots on the range, Conners said, the relationship clicked.
We agreed wed have a partnership, said Conners, a
no-nonsense type. Shed make mistakes and I would make mistakes.
But we agreed wed be a team.
That team didnt break.
Along the way to victory, Lucidi eliminated two USA Curtis Cup team
members (Emily Bastel and Laura Myerscough) and two above-average match
play players in Adrienne Gautreaux and Lindsey Wright.
At the trophy presentation, the well-mannered Lucidi went out of her
way to mention him.
He was the secret ingredient. I look at him like a second dad
now. Hes the same age of my dad. I know its funny to say
because Ive only known him for about five days, but hell
be in my life forever, said Lucidi.
Afterward, during an interview session, Lucidi was pressed about the
difference Conners made in her winning. She couldnt say enough.
I trust the guy, she said. Hes been here 41
years. That says enough right there. He wouldnt fail you.
Hes just like a father figure a good hugger.
With that, Lucidi got up and hurried off to call her parents in California
with the news: she was the 2002 U.S. Womens Amateur champion.
Hugs all around.
The U.S. Womens Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted
by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly
The U.S. Womens Amateur is open to female amateur golfers who
have USGA handicap indexes not exceeding 5.4. Entries closed June 19.
After two rounds (36 holes) of stroke play, the lowest 64 scorers advanced
to match play. The first two rounds of match play, consisting of 18
holes each, were contested Wednesday, with the third round and quarterfinals
played on Thursday. The 36-hole final was set for 9 a.m. Saturday.
Story written by Ken Klavon, USGA.