Story provided by Andrew Blair
Director of Communications / Virginia Golfer Editor
Virginia State Golf Association
VIRGINIA BEACH Hampton Roads-area players Lauren Doughtie, 21, of Suffolk and Kristen Simpson, 22, of Norfolk registered a pair of quarterfinal and semifinal round victories and will meet in Friday’s scheduled 18-hole championship final at the 83rd Virginia State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Championship at Bayville Golf Club (5,766 yards, par 36-3672).
A rising senior at North Carolina State University, Doughtie registered a morning 2 and 1 victory over friend and 2005 VSGA Women’s Amateur champion Cindy Morris (Portsmouth), before notching a 5 and 4 semifinals win against event co-medalist and Longwood sophomore Kameron Carter, 19, of Bassett. Meanwhile, Simpson, a recent University of Virginia graduate, bested Georgetown sophomore Christine Curley (Vienna), 4 and 3 in the quarters, before ousting central Virginian Heather McGinnis (Midlothian), 7 and 6 in the afternoon session.
The championship final will feature the runners-up in the last two championship finals at the VSGA Women’s Am. Simpson fell to Tazewell’s Carol Green in ’06 at Charlottesville’s Farmington Country Club, while Doughtie lost last year to Forest’s Sarah Harvey at The Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course in Richmond.
“Neither one of us wants a repeat, so that’s going to make us want to play that much better,” Doughtie said. “I think it’s going to be a really close match. You can’t ask for much more.”
The two finalists share plenty of commonalities. Doughtie and Simpson have known each other for about a dozen years, dating back to their days when they were the only two girls playing in the junior club championship at Suffolk’s Cedar Point Country Club. At times, the matchups on the golf course during their pre-teen years were less than serious, with one of the events not even producing an outcome.
“One year it got too hot, so we went in. We were like, We’re done’ ” Simpson laughed.
Needless to say, things have since changed and Friday’s matchup will feature two of the best players in the commonwealth. Simpson became the first of the two to take home a VSGA title, winning this year’s Virginias Women’s Stroke Play Championship. That same week, Doughtie advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. Doughtie has enjoyed a watershed spring, competing in the NCAA Championships as an individual, medaling in three USGA qualifiers and she competed in the U.S. Women’s Open a week after the WAPL.
The two also work with the same instructor, Kandi Comer, a PGA professional at Keswick’s Glenmore Country Club, and still cross paths and play when they go in to tune up their games.
“I’m interested to see who Kandi is going to pull for. Hopefully, me, because Kristen won the first state championship,” Doughtie joked.
In the interim, Doughtie and Simpson tried for some friendly misdirection with their teacher.
“Neither one of them wants me to talk to the other one [Thursday night],” laughed Comer, who says she plans to speak with both players via telephone prior to Friday morning’s match.
The finalists didn’t trail in either their quarterfinal or semifinal round matches.
“I think we’ll play well against each other,” Doughtie said. “We’ll push each other, that’s for sure. We play different games, but have fairly similar outcomes.”
With both players enjoying a strong ball-striking week, the outcome could be determined by “who plays better with the wedges,” according to Simpson.
“I think we’re both comfortable with our games. Some players might be intimidated by one being a long driver, but I don’t think that will affect us,” said Simpson, who will be attending graduate school at the University of Virginia in the fall and has one year of eligibility remaining on the golf team.
Simpson made four birdies on the outward half in her morning in building a 3-up lead on her opponent at the turn. She then breezed through the afternoon session literally. Against McGinnis, she built a 6 up advantage after 10 holes and finished the 12-hole match in 2 hours. McGinnis, who reached the championship’s semifinals for a second straight year, seemingly had little left after completing a grueling 2 and 1 morning win against 21-year-old UNC Wilmington senior Christie Appleton.
“I just need to buckle down and go through the experience of playing 36 holes a day,” said McGinnis, who works as a Robins Junior Programs camp counselor at Independence Golf Club. “With a little more practice and experience, I think I can do it.”
In defeating Morris in the quarters and Doughtie built a 4-up lead at the turn before going on to victory. With Morris caddieing in the afternoon session, the long-hitting Doughtie then broke out an impressive arsenal of shots in her match against the second-seeded Carter, winning five of the first eight holes and had an insurmountable 5-up lead at the turn.
Doughtie and Simpson played a friendly practice round on Sunday and when they were seeded on opposite sides of the match-play bracket, both admit that they talked about meeting in the finals after stroke play qualifying concluded.
“We’ve been looking for that trying to figure out how to make sure [the finals’ matchup] happens,” Doughtie said. “We just got lucky with the blind draw.”
Doughtie, who missed the cut at the Women’s Open, has used the national championship as a valuable learning experience.
“I really wanted it on Thursday, but I tried even harder on Friday, because I knew I was right at the cut line and needed to shoot even or one under,” Doughtie said. “It proved to me that the harder I try, the worse I play. I just have to go out there and relax and not try to make it happen.”
The championship match is set to begin at 9 a.m.