Matson claims fourth Senior Amateur

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
Montana Women’s State Amateur Champion, Teigan Avery of Kalispell, and Montana State Women’s Senior Amateur Champion, Sue Matson of Laurel, at the awards presentation Saturday evening at Laurel Golf Club. Avery, a University of Montana sophomore, won her first Amateur title, while Matson, of Laurel, won her fourth Senior Amateur title.
Montana Women’s State Amateur Champion, Teigan Avery of Kalispell, and Montana State Women’s Senior Amateur Champion, Sue Matson of Laurel, at the awards presentation Saturday evening at Laurel Golf Club. Avery, a University of Montana sophomore, won her first Amateur title, while Matson, of Laurel, won her fourth Senior Amateur title.
Laurel’s Sue Matson rolls in a par putt on 16 to maintain a three-shot lead with two holes to play in the Montana State Senior Women’s Amateur at Laurel Golf Club on Saturday. Matson won the tournament by four shots to claim an unprecedented fourth title.
Laurel’s Sue Matson rolls in a par putt on 16 to maintain a three-shot lead with two holes to play in the Montana State Senior Women’s Amateur at Laurel Golf Club on Saturday. Matson won the tournament by four shots to claim an unprecedented fourth title.

Story and photos
By CHRIS MCCONNELL

A lot needs to happen to win a state championship; a solid golf game, luck, some perspective and, apparently, a bit of comic relief from a squirrel.
Since the Montana State Senior Women’s Amateur was added as a tournament in 1990, five women have won it twice, one woman won it three times, and as of Saturday one golfer–Sue Matson–has won it an unprecedented four times.
Laurel’s Matson continues to add to an impressive resume that includes 13 Senior Club Championships at Laurel Golf Club and two Yellowstone County Senior Ams. She also qualified for four United States Golf Association State Team events.
Matson didn’t take up competitive golf until later in life. She had played a little golf as a kid, but her amateur career was interrupted for nearly four decades after receiving some harsh words when she was eight.
Matson was kicked off a golf course where she grew up near Gettysburg, Penn. because she was a beginner “hacking up the course” and the head pro told her grandpa, “She’s never going to be a golfer; make her a swimmer,” Matson recalled.
She didn’t touch a club again for 37 years, but when she did it was with invigorated passion, and she saw immediate results.
She got a hole in one the second day after she bought her clubs, worked on her game most days and started Bottom Line Accounting Services so she could focus on golf.
“I would work at night and practice and play during the day,” Matson said.
In 2007 she won her first Senior Am at Riverside Country Club in Bozeman and successfully defended her title the next year at LGC, but it wasn’t easy.
Matson said she was “7 or 8” down with nine to play in the final round.
“I was was coaching the golf teams at Laurel High School at that time and I focused on the same thing I told my players; stay in the moment and don’t ever give up,” she recalled.
She won by one.
She added a third championship in 2011 in Helena at Green Meadow Country Club.
Her journey to her fourth championship was far from smooth.
A tragedy befell the Matson family earlier this summer when her grandson was involved in a serious motorcycle accident. He remains hospitalized in Billings and was on her mind last week.
“I carry a lock of his hair in a prayer box bracelet I wear,” Matson said.
On Thursday, Matson grabbed a one-shot lead after a strong opening round 79 in which she played her last six holes two under. She struggled during Friday’s second round, admitting that more was on her mind than just a golf tournament.
“Some days I’m strong, but others I’m worn out and emotionally drained,” Matson reflected, referencing her grandson’s accident, then adding, “I could have left the course [on Friday] and never looked back.”
She had played 10 holes and lost the lead when a moment of levity came from a most unlikely source: a squirrel.
She was preparing to hit her third shot into the par five 11th hole when the critter dropped out of a tree and ran around her feet and ball, pestering her. She backed away and chased it off only to have it return a second time as she addressed the ball.
A Billings news station had a camera rolling behind the green and captured the second half of the battle on video, when Matson ran it off for good.
She proceeded to knock her shot on the green and two putt for par.
Matson recalled, “It was the first time I had laughed all day; that squirrel lightened my mood.”
She fell back into a tie for second place after posting an 89 and that evening she received encouragement from her son, a former golf professional.
“He called and said, ‘Mom, you’ve got this,” Matson said.
She started Saturday’s final round three shots behind Condon’s Helene Michael.
Matson battled back to take a one shot lead going into the back nine after shooting a three over 39 on the front. She made a fifteen foot par putt on the long 15th hole and when Michael made a double bogey she had a three shot lead. She and Michael matched pars on 16.
On the par three 17th hole she recalled a past success which helped her pick the right club.
“It was the same front left pin as in 2008 and I have two clubs for that location; short and center. I took less club because of the adrenaline factor” and left an uphill chip, Matson said.
The 18th hole was all but a formality, and she finished strong, posting an 80. When she made par and Michael bogeyed, she had won her fourth State Women’s Senior Am by four shots.
“I hit three of the best shots of my tournament ... I haven’t played 18 that well in a month,” Matson said.
After she putted out, her husband Karl presented her with a vase of flowers and a picture of her grandson. He quickly took them back as her friends approached and “Nancy Lopez’d me and doused me with ice water. They said ‘we would have thrown you in the pond, but you wouldn’t have liked it,’” Matson said with a laugh.
By winning the State Am, Matson qualified for her fourth USGA State Team event in Santa Fe, NM this fall. It is the last year the event will be held and features the best female golfers from all 50 states.
The Amateur side of the competition was won by University of Montana golfer, and Kalispell native, Teigan Avery who fired 76-73-77 to win her first State Am by five over Townsend’s Anna DeMars. MSU-Billings sophomore Shealyn Hafer was third. Top local finishers from the Laurel area included Ashley Griffith in solo fifth, first round leader Kyla Clancy in a tie for sixth, and Morgan O’Neil in eighth.

Women’s State Am
1st Teigan Avery 76-73-77   226
2nd Anna DeMars 78-76-77 231
3rd Shealyn Hafer 79-79-74 232
4th  Kameryn Basye 82-77-76 235
5th Ashley Griffith 81-79-76 236
T6th Jackie Mee 77-83-79 239
T6th Kyla Clancy 75-80-84 239
8th Morgan O’Neil 82-85-75 242
9th Katie Wills 82-78-84 244
10th Hayden Flohr 81-86-79 246

Women’s Senior State Am
1st  Sue Matson 79-89-80 248
2nd Helene Michael 80-85-87 252
3rd Susan Court 81-88-84 253
4th Bobbie Lacklen 83-85-86 254
5th Julie Embleton 87-87-87 261

 

Helene Michael grabs Women’s Senior Am lead - From www.montanasports.com

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