Emily Tubert of Burbank began playing golf only five years ago, was competing in her second national championship and first match-play tournament.
But when the smoke had cleared in the 34th U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, the 18-year-old Tubert was the last player standing, defeating Lisa McCloskey of USC, 3 and 2, in the scheduled 36-hole final at the Warren Golf Club at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
“I’ve always felt like the underdog,” said Tubert, who graduated from Burroughs High in Burbank in June and is headed to the University of Arkansas. “At this point it feels a little unreal.
“There are a lot of big names on the trophy. It definitely gives me the feeling of belonging with these girls. To walk away with this national championship victory is amazing. I can’t believe it.”
Tuber, whose pre-tournament goal was to advance through 36-hole qualifying to the match-play portion of the tournament, was 2-down to McCloskey after five holes of the morning round before taking command of the final.
She reeled off five birdies in the next seven holes to seize a 5-up lead was not really threatened the rest of the day.
“She was on fire,” said the 19-year-old McCloskey, who is from Montgomery, Texas, and is in the process of transferring from Pepperdine to USC. “She birdied the ninth through the 12th, the hardest stretch of holes on the golf course.
“I thought if I shot four-under par for the (afternoon) 18, it would get me back in there. “But even if I had, it wouldn’t have done it.”
McCloskey, 4-down when they broke for lunch, tried to rally in the afternoon with a birdie at the 21st hole to reduce the deficit to three holes, only to fall back when Tubert went on another run.
She captured the next two holes with birdies and won the 24th with a par to go 6-up.
“I felt like I’ve been playing well this week,” said Tubert, who captured the CIF Southern Section title as a senior at Burroughs. “So, I really just wanted to play my game, and win or lose I just wanted to go out and stick to my game plan. Not deviate too much and get outside of myself.”
McCloskey cut into Tubert’s lead by holing a 14-foot birdie putt at the 25th hole and a downhill 18-footer for a birdie at the 27th.
Tubert got back on track with a birdie on the 28th of the match and was 5-up with eight holes remaining, but gave one back when she drove into an unplayable lie in the woods on the 30th hole.
The match was dormie on the 33rd hole, where McCloskey stayed alive by holing a 12-foot putt, but it was over when both players made par on the next hole, with Tubert jumping into the arms of her father and caddie, Marcelos.
“He couldn’t say much,” said Tubert, who claimed her first American Junior Golf Association title at the Under Armour/Vicky Hurst Championship in May. “He started crying. He said. ‘I’m so proud of you, and you belong.’ For me, it’s been tough just believing that I belong with this caliber of players.
“This is definitely the biggest event I’ve won. I did get my first AJGA victory this year. But this is a national championship. This is an amateur event. You know, there are a lot of junior golfers here, but there are a bunch of college players, and really talented college players. It’s a who’s who at this event
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