The End Of A Long Journey

Futcher Makes 21-Hour Plane Trip From Competition In Thailand To Compete In Final Women's Amateur

 

By David Shefter, USGA

 

Erie, Pa. – Twenty-one hours. That's how long it took Katie Futcher to get to The Kahkwa Club for this week's U.S. Women's Amateur.

 

It wasn't your average player's journey, but then again, this wasn't your average excursion, either.

 

Futcher, a 23-year-old Penn State graduate, competed at the World University Games in Korat, Thailand Aug. 2-5. It is an event she won in a two-hole playoff over Thailand 's Porani Chutiche after the two tied at 294. Her USA team also took the title for the first time since 1992.

 

But as soon as the event concluded, Futcher had a five-hour flight to Tokyo, followed by a 10-hour flight to Los Angeles. After clearing customs, she boarded another plane for Pittsburgh (five hours) and then had a quick one-hour jaunt to Erie. She arrived here at 11 p.m. last Saturday night, long enough to recover from the jet lag and get some much-needed rest.

 

Needless to say, she didn't play a practice round on Sunday, although another World University Games participant and Women's Amateur contestant, Carol Green, did get some practice in on Sunday.

 

“I wasn't in the best [condition],” said Cutler, who is from The Woodlands, Texas. “I was lucky enough to play here a couple of weeks ago. I made the one-day trip from my grandparents' house in Bethlehem (Pa.). The greens were slower and the fairways weren't cut. They didn't want to burn anything out [before the championship].”

 

Futcher, competing in her fourth Women's Amateur, had little trouble on Monday, shooting an even-par 72, but posted an 80 Tuesday to qualify for match play.

 

“I wasn't myself today,” said Futcher after signing her card. “I think I was feeling a little bit [fatigued].”

 

Futcher is quite used to going the extra distance at this championship. Last year, she needed 21 holes to eliminate Kristen White in the first round and then played 19 holes in a second-round loss to Lisa Meldrum. Futcher is hoping for a little better result in her last competition as an amateur. She is turning pro next week and plans to play the final two Futures Tour events of the season.

 

“You've got to enjoy every minute of it,” said Futcher, who spent the last seven months doing an internship in Houston to become certified to take the Registered Nutritionist Exam. “It's a fantastic course and I'm with my boyfriend ( Rob Schutte ) and my dad flew up. I'm three hours from Penn State

 

Futcher also is happy to be back in the U.S. where she can enjoy the little things, like a Dairy Queen Blizzard with extra Oreos and chocolate flakes.

 

“It was a great experience, but it makes you appreciate what you have here,” said Futcher. “The people over there were so hospitable. They were very kind.”

 

Al though Futcher graduated last December, she held off turning pro so she could compete at the World University Games and play the Women's Amateur one last time. She's still unsure if she wants to make a career out of golf, so she'll use these two Futures Tour events and next year on that circuit to decide if she'll take that route.

 

That's one reason why she chose to do the internship immediately following graduation.

 

“The time away from golf put everything into perspective,” said Futcher. “I knew if I turned pro right out of school, I wasn't going to want to go back and study, so I wanted that done and out of the way.”

 

But the internship didn't give her much time to work on her game. The competition and Thailand served as a warm-up for the Women's Amateur. On Wednesday, she opens match play against 2004 USA Curtis Cupper Paula Creamer.

 

“I love match play,” she said. “It's my favorite. I just love competing. I love head to head competition.”

 

David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions and comments at dshefter@usga.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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