Thursday, July 12, 2001

Champ, newcomer vie for N.Ky. women's golf title




By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

        ALEXANDRIA — The golfer who expected to defend her Northern Kentucky Women's Amateur title today will meet someone who is surprised to still be playing.

        Defending champion Diana Camacho will play first-time finalist Anna McCord at 9:30 a.m. at A.J. Jolly Golf Course. In Wednesday's semifinals, Camacho eliminated Michelle Bellish 5and4, and McCord defeated Kim Gunning 4 and 3.

        Camacho is trying to become the second consecutive woman to win two straight titles — Katie Kruer accomplished the feat in 1998 and '99. But she isn't focusing on her competition in today's final.

        “I'm just going to play the course,” Camacho said after Wednesday's match.

        About 10 minutes later, McCord talked about her radical strategy — practicing less for big tournaments.

        “It's working,” McCord said. “I'm surprised. The week before this, I'm thinking, "I haven't played.' I'm in the finals.

        “I've been practicing all those years. Maybe I shouldn't have.”

        But ask McCord about Camacho's game, and she becomes serious.

        “She hits a long ball,” McCord said. “She's been putting good.”

        But Camacho said she spent an hour on the practice green Tuesday at A.J. Jolly and another hour at her home course, Eagle Creek Country Club in Crittenden, to fix her stroke.

        That practice paid off against Bellish.

        After halving the first five holes, she won No.6 and took a 2-up lead with a birdie three holes later. By the 14th tee, she was ahead 5-up.

        “I had six fewer putts on the front nine than I did (Tuesday),” Camacho said.

        Bellish never recovered. She cut one hole off Camacho's lead with a 20-foot birdie on No.14, but her tee shot on the 15th hole went into the trees left of the fairway.

        “I didn't have my best swing,” Bellish said. “A lot of shots I had to hit behind trees and underneath tree limbs.”

        The match between McCord and Gunning was equally close on the front nine. McCord sank a birdie to open the round, but Gunning tied the match three holes later.

        But that was the end of McCord's problems. She took a 2-up lead with nine holes to go, won the first two holes on the back nine and lost only No.12 the rest of the way.

        “She's the type of golfer who's never in trouble,” Gunning said of McCord. “I really struggled off the tee. I hit maybe four fairways.”

Today's pairings, Wednesday's results
Check out our Tristate golf guide for a directory and features on local courses, coverage of the Men's and Women's Met, and other news.



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