If the players on Western Carolina’s women’s golf team need proof that their coach can still play the game, Mallory Hetzel provided it Thursday.
Hetzel won her second straight CGA Carolinas Women’s Match Play Championship title, beating Kayla Thompson 3 and 2 in the finals at the Cowans Ford Golf Club.
Hetzel, 28, won her seventh career Carolinas Golf Association tournament and became the fourth person in 18 years to win back-to-back Women’s Match Play titles.
“I got my amateur status back a few years ago,” said Hetzel, the Catamounts’ coach since June 2010. “I started to play in hopes of improving our recruiting, and to get some publicity for our university and athletic department. But it also helps me to be a better coach for my current players.”
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While Hetzel didn’t show her best stuff Thursday, advancing to the final with a 2 and 1 semifinal win over 18-year-old Annike Bovender of Mount Pleasant, S.C., neither did Thompson.
Thompson, a rising junior at UNC Wilmington, was playing in her first tournament since having knee surgery in May. She advanced to the final with a 6 and 4 win over Emily Brooks of Chapel Hill earlier Thursday, but several missed putts gave Hetzel a 4-up lead through eight holes in the final.
“I knew it wasn’t going to stand up, not the way I was hitting it,” Hetzel said. “Even with 4-up, I was like ‘thank goodness I’ve got a big cushion,’ because I knew I was going to have a few bogeys, and I did. A good player like Kayla is never going to be out of it.”
Thompson made up two holes with winning putts on No. 9 and No. 10, but she also missed several opportunities on Cowans Ford’s back nine to make up more ground. She missed winning putts on No. 11, No. 13 and No. 14, and her missed 5-footer on No. 16 ended the match with two holes remaining.
“I putted really well earlier this week, but I couldn’t get anything to drop today. I hit the ball really well, but I made mistakes you just can’t make against a player like Mallory. She’s too good, and she’s going to take advantage of that. I just couldn’t make the putts.” – Thompson.
Annie Collom of Davidson, a Richmond signee who led Concord’s Cannon School to four straight NCISAA titles, lost to Raleigh’s Courtney McKim 4 and 3 in the championship first flight final. Other flight winners were Rachel Walker of Waxhaw (championship second flight), Savanna Wood of Boone (championship third flight), Cornelius’ Tessa Young (championship fourth flight), Stanley’s Sandy Ray (tournament division first flight), Belmont’s Barb Tyler (tournament second flight), and Conover’s Colleen Witmer (tournament third flight).