MANCHESTER, Maine — Alexa Rancourt’s putter had been in sort of a coma the first two days of the WMSGA Championship, but it awoke at just the right time.
After a shaky start in which she bogeyed the first hole and double-bogeyed the second, the 18-year old from Sable Oaks Country Club in South Portland settled down and recorded four straight birdies on the back nine en route to her second straight WMSGA title.
Rancourt finished Wednesday’s final round at Augusta Country Club with an even-par 72, good for a three-day total of 1-under 215.
Debby Gardner of Waterville CC in Oakland finished 23 shots back at 238 while Ann Probert, also of Waterville, shot a final-round 78 to take third with a total of 241.
Rounding out the top five were Martindale CC of Auburn’s Kristin Kannegieser at 242 and Norway CC’s Leslie Guenther at 243.
Rancourt, who will begin play in the U.S. Amateur championships in St. Louis Monday before heading to Furman University in South Carolina on a golf scholarship in the fall, was finally able to get the confidence with the putter she had been seeking all week.
“It came through on the back nine for me, finally,” she said emphatically. “I just felt like I was standing over every putt like, this is going in.”
After the shaky start, Rancourt settled down with a par at the fourth before reaching the par-5 fourth in two for the third time in as many rounds, easily recording a birdie.
She parred out the rest of the front nine for a 38, and sunk a par putt on the 10th, which really got the ball rolling.
“I made a really good putt on No. 10 to save par, and that putt gave me some confidence because it was an uphill putt and I jammed it right in the back of the hole,” said Rancourt.
Rancourt would then birdie the next four holes, including a 12-footer from just off the green on the par-4 12th and a 25-footer on the par-4 14th, which left the shaky start far in the rearview mirror.
“ Golf is so mental so if you let those thoughts creep in, things that you don’t want to happen start to happen,” she said.
Rancourt’s only blemish on the back nine came in the form of a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 16th in which she hit her approach to the left of the green and sailed her chip over it.
“I made the wrong club selection and that was kind of ‘an oops’ on my part,” admitted Rancourt, who needed two strokes just to chip back onto the green.
Rancourt finished with a flourish, knocking her approach on the par-5 finishing hole to inside 15 feet and, of course, sinking the putt.
“It feels really good to come back and defend, I feel like I played really well this week,” said Rancourt.
So well that Wednesday’s hot and humid conditions didn’t bother Rancourt, who attended the Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Even though most of Rancourt’s playing time is going to be spent in the southern part of the country, she’d love to come back and defend her title again.
“I absolutely love this tournament, I think its awesome,” she said. “The support here is great, its just good to come back and feel like it’s home, and Maine will always be home to me whether I’m living here or not.”
Gardner, a former three-time winner of this tournament (1976-78), knew that she was going to be playing for second place because Rancourt was blasting her drives more than 250 yards down the fairways and attacking pins with precision.
“ She is incredible, she’s got a great future in front of her, she’s a terrific gal,” said Gardner. “She has the whole package, she hits the ball far, she putts like crazy”
Gardner was pleased with her own round despite a few issues on the green.
“I was very happy the way I played today, and had some putting issues but I seemed to solve that,” she said.