BOISE, Idaho – Haley Nist began the final round of the 2018 Idaho Women’s State Amateur with a 3 shot lead, and after an up-and-down final 18 holes at Shadow Valley she walked away the champion.
Nist, soon to be a senior at The University of Colorado-Boulder, did not make any birdies in the second round. She improved on that statistic right out of the gates on Saturday. Birdies on two of the first three holes boosted the lead and alleviated some of the pressure on Nist.
Nist struck the ball with consistency and backed it up with excellent putting on the front nine. Nist hit every fairway, but her iron play separated her from the competition. 7 out of 9 greens in regulation led to some makeable putts, many of which Nist missed by mere centimeters.
At the turn Nist looked to be well in control – the only player in the final pairing under par. The back nine was a different story.
The rough back nine started with a drive landing near the base of a tree on #10. After a punch out, Nist bogeyed the hole. A similar situation on #12 led to another bogey. She was dropping shots, but fortunately for her the closest competition couldn’t apply any pressure.
The competition, 14-year-old Kelli Ann Strand, was excellent off the tee, but struggled to hit greens all day. Strand showed flashes of great play, but ultimately couldn’t find any key putts to fall. She finished with a final round 76.
Nist hit 4 fairways and 6 greens in regulation on the back, but brilliant short range putting kept her lead safe. With a six shot lead heading into the 16th hole, Nist had control over her own destiny.
On the 18th with a four shot lead, Nist calmly hit both fairway and green, and 2-putted for victory. A fitting representation of the steady play that showed up from Nist all week. She finished the tournament 75-74-75 224 (+8), 4 strokes ahead of Strand.
Nist’s name will now appear twice on the trophy. She previously won the event in 2014. “ It’s always nice to get a win in your hometown,” she said after the round. “I had not played a lot of golf recently, but this win should be a good start for me heading into the fall college season.”
The Idaho Women’s State Amateur has been contested since 1934.
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