It took Stetson’s Mallory Viera a little extra work on Wednesday afternoon, but the soon-to-be Hatter senior delivered in the clutch to capture the 84th Florida State Women’s Amateur Championship at the Vero Beach Country Club.
Viera defeated Yuanru Yin, of Orlando, in the final match of the tournament, but it took two extra holes to earn the title. Only after an errant second shot out of bounds on a par 5 second hole left Yin with no chance, did she concede the title to Viera.
“My first and last round of match play were the hardest because I went to the 20th holes both times,” Viera said. “The other three matches I won 4 up.
“In the final match, we were back and forth all day and we went into extra holes before she hit it out of bounds on the 20th hole. I was right in front of the green on a par 5 so she conceded the match.”
Viera got off to a hot start in the championship match, taking an early lead with a birdie on the par 5 second hole only to see Yin drain a six-foot birdie putt on the third hole to square the match. After halving holes four through eight, Yin won the 9th hole to take a 1up lead into the final nine holes of play.
After losing the 10th hole with a bogey, Viera bounced back with birdies on holes 11 and 13 to square the match. On hole 16, Yin regained a 1 up lead by making par, but a costly three putt bogey on the par three 17th hole once again squared the match heading to the difficult 18th hole.
It was only fitting that both players made great par saves on the 18th hole to send the match to extra holes.
On the 19th hole, Viera and Yin both found the trees off the tee but recovered nicely to make pars and send the match to what turned out to be the deciding 20th hole, a reachable par 5. After both players hit great tee shots, Viera went for the green in two, but had her shot just end up short on the front edge. Yin was forced to try to pull off a great second shot, but hit out of bounds to end the match.
It was the first state title for Viera, who joined a list of great champions to have won this prestigious event. That list includes former Hatter Alexandra Buelow, who won the same title in 2009.
“It is really awesome that we have had two players win this event in the last five years,” Hatters coach Floyd Kerr said. “I am also proud of Mallory because she also qualified to play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship along with Sammi Smith next week.”
Viera qualified for that event, which will be held June 17-22 at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, in Norman, Oklahoma, with a one-under par round of 71 at the Links at Boynton Beach.
Viera credited another one of her Stetson teammates for assisting her in winning the Match Play title.
“It was great having a teammate on the bag,” Viera said. “Ryan Ashburn and I play a similar style, so we were a great team.”
Viera will depart for Oklahoma on Saturday in search of another summer championship.