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Leach wins US Womens Mid-Amateur

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USGAOCALA, Fla. – Martha Stacy Leach won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur on Thursday to join sister Hollis Stacy as a U.S. Golf Association champion, beating former Georgia teammate Laura Coble 3 and 2 at Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club.

The 47-year-old Leach, the Savannah, Ga., player who now lives in Hebron, Ky., and Stacy are only the second sisters to win USGA titles.

“It’s special,” said Leach, making her 22nd start in the tournament for players 25 and older. “It just means a lot. I love her, but I have a lot of other siblings I love, too. Hollis just happens to be a great golfer.”

Stacy won six USGA titles, taking the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 1969-71 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1977, ’78 and ’84. U.S. Women’s Amateur champions Harriot Curtis (1906) and Margaret Curtis (1907, ’11, ’12) are the only other sisters to win USGA titles.

“I’m so proud of my little sister,” Stacy said. “She has a heart as big as the state of Georgia.”

Leach made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th hole to take a 1-up lead and took a three-hole lead with pars on 12 and 14.

The 45-year-old Coble, from Augusta, Ga., hit a wedge to inches for a birdie on the par-5 15th to cut her deficit to two holes, but Leach hit a 60-yard wedge shot to 3 1/2 feet on the par-5 16th and made the birdie putt to end the match.

“It was a great way to finish,” Leach said. “I’m thinking in the 21 years I’ve played in this, an average 400 entries have been sent in, 8,400 women have played and there have only been 23 champions. And there have been a lot of double winners. What are your odds of winning this? This year I was either going to win the lottery or win the Women’s Mid-Am. I did). And I said, ‘Damn, I won’t be winning any money.’ “

With the usual match-play concessions, Leach was even par for 16 holes and Coble was 3-over par.

“I was just a little bit off today with my swing, putting, and just couldn’t get it all together,” Coble said, “I’m disappointed that I didn’t win, but I had a great week.”