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July 11, 2014

Salem, Va. – For central Virginian Lyberty Anderson, an incoming freshman at Virginia this fall, a summer spent mostly away from competitive golf proved refreshing, but it temporarily robbed her of her feel for the game.

By the time she began her fifth round in four days at Hidden Valley Country Club in Salem, Va., that feel began to return. And once it did, there was no stopping the 18-year-old from Chesterfield. Anderson capped a dominating Friday with a 4 and 3 victory over future Virginia teammate Lauren Coughlin (Chesapeake, Va.) in the scheduled 18-hole final of the 89th Virginia State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Championship.

Anderson’s title was her first in the VSGA Women’s Amateur. She also has a VSGA Women’s Stroke Play championship to her credit. It also denied Coughlin, who won this year’s VSGA Women’s Stroke Play title, her third straight VSGA Women’s Amateur crown.

“Honestly, when we teed off, I knew we would play 18,” Anderson said. “I didn’t think it would end as soon as it did, because she was playing well. She’s consistent. She doesn’t make mistakes. Luckily, she made a few today. I didn’t necessarily capitalize on them, but it made me feel that, `Hey, I’ve got this. It’s there. I can do it.’ “

Anderson opened the day with a 7 and 5 semifinal win over Williamsburg 19-year-old Marin Warring, a match in which Anderson got by mostly with pars as Warring struggled with bogeys.

Coughlin, the stroke play qualifying medalist, defeated James Madison University junior Kelsey Solan 3 and 2 in the other semifinal. Anderson said Thursday she hoped to get a shot at Coughlin in the championship match, and her wish came to fruition Friday morning.

And though Coughlin played well, she had little chance to make up ground due to Anderson’s stellar play. Counting the concessions that are typically a part of match play, she played 15 holes at the demanding Hidden Valley track in five under par, including a match-changing eagle on the par-5 eighth hole.

“There’s not much you can do about that,” Coughlin said. “You just play your game, and mine wasn’t going right. And hers was. There’s nothing you can really do.”

Anderson jumped to an early two-hole lead in the championship match, but the steady Coughlin didn’t let Anderson out of her sights. She two putted for par on the par-3 seventh hole, and Anderson three-putted from about 40 feet away as Coughlin got to within one hole down.

Both players hit the fairway on the reachable, downhill par-5 eighth, and both were on the green in two. Coughlin two-putted for birdie, and Anderson had 20 feet left for eagle. She struggled with short putts for much of the four-day event, but she rolled it in for an eagle-3 that moved her back to 2 up.

“That’s kind of where the momentum picked up for me, mentally,” Anderson said. “I hadn’t made a putt since [Thursday]. In my early matches, I made a couple of 20 footers, 30 footers. But that was one of the first real good putts that I made. I looked at my [aunt] and said, `I’m feeling it now.’ “

“She had a really good putt,” Coughlin said. “I just barely missed mine. Losing with birdie is never the best feeling in the world. But again, she had an eagle. Nothing you can do. She deserved it.”

Anderson held at least a two holes up lead for the remainder of the match. The precise approaches that carried Coughlin to the championship match began to disappear. She hit some off-line shots and left approaches short, and Anderson took advantage by hitting the middle of the greens and making two putts to stay ahead.

“I was trying not to force it, but I just wasn’t hitting any good shots,” Coughlin said. “She was hitting okay shots, but nothing like she was hitting on the front (nine). I just wasn’t able to put any pressure on her.”

Anderson fittingly wrapped up the match on the par-4 15th with a birdie. She didn’t need it. Coughlin missed the green with her approach and blasted her pitch well past the hole, leaving her a good 30 feet for par. Anderson dropped in a 10-footer for birdie, and the players, who will be teammates at UVa this fall, embraced on the green.

Coughlin will return to Charlottesville and begin summer school on Monday. Anderson will play in the Virginias-Carolinas Matches next week, but she plans on taking easy for the rest of the summer in preparation for her first semester at Virginia.

“We’re still going to compete against each other to a certain extent, in these events and at school,” Anderson said. “But thankfully, we’ll be on the same side. It’s just really hard playing friends.”

Recap courtesy the Virginia State Golf Association Communications (Chris Lang)

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