But it was her triumph over Lori Beth Adams in 19 holes in the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur on Saturday at Pinehurst No. 8 that makes Alison Lee believe in herself.
“To have my name next to all of those legends, it’s not even an emotion I can describe because it’s so cool,” said Lee, clutching the coveted Putter Boy trophy. “It just shows I have the ability to be able to make it out there on Tour as well, and to play well. That’s what I eventually want to do.”
But as much of a thrill that 2 & 1 victory over McDonald on Saturday morning was, it was the fight given by Adams, a North Carolina native and graduate of nearby UNC Wilmington, that elevated Lee’s performance.
Through 13 holes, Lee was 4-under, and nearly had a one-in-hole on the par-3 5th. Yet though 13, the match remained all square. Adams, who defeated 2013 North & South semifinalist Michelle Piyapattra 1 up in the morning, made six putts of 9 feet or longer to either win or halve holes to stay in the match, never allowing Lee to move ahead by more than two holes.
“It was a dogfight,” said Adams, who was making her fifth appearance in a North & South event. “(Lee) played great; she was making putts left and right, but so was I.”
Adams eventually began to break Lee, moving from 1 down on 12 to 1 up through 14. Adams got up and down on 13 to square the match – making a 7-footer for par – then went 1 up when Lee’s approach buried in a greenside bunker, leading to a double bogey.
“I thought I had her on 17, but she made the putt,” Adams said.
Lee had a chance to win the championship with a 12-foot birdie putt on 18, but left it short. Adams then coolly drained a 5-footer for par to extend the match.
Adams split the fairway on the first hole while Lee missed right and found herself in the rough. But Adams left her approach short in the bunker fronting the green, and was met with a buried lie.
“I didn’t want to be long, Adams said. “It looked great in the air.”
Lee had a difficult angle to the green, but stuck her short iron to 10 feet.
Adams’ bunker shot flew the green, forcing her to settle for double bogey. She conceded the match to Lee.
“I hate that it had to end that way,” Lee said. “Lori Beth played an incredible match.”
“If I had to describe the match in one word, it would be ‘intense,’” Lee said. “From beginning to end, we both played really well and were making birdies on top of each other. It was just a great, solid championship match. It’s what a championship match should be all about – both players at the tops of their games.”
Women’s North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey, Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.
And now Alison Lee.
Story by Alex Podogas