Julie McMullin wins State Am in dramatic fashion
July 26, 2011
Julie McMullin said all she could do was focus. She had to. What awaited her was a 25-foot bogey putt from the fringe of the 18th hole at the 105th Women’s State Amateur Championship. For McMullin, it was make the putt or lose the title in heart-wrenching fashion.
Although she had taken two shots to escape the left-side bunker near the green, the Park City resident said she didn’t exactly think of the putt as a "do-or-die." She just approached it as she did throughout the week that led her to the match play final.
"I just didn’t give up," she said. "I didn’t want to lose in that manner."
McMullin buried the 25-foot downhill putt to force a 19th playoff hole against three-time State Am champion Lachell Poffenberger. On the 19th hole, McMullin made par, Poffenberger bogeyed and, last Thursday, Julie McMullin raised the trophy sky-high at Valley View Golf Course in Layton.
"I just learned to not ever give up on a hole or any shot in golf," she said.
Asked if she had ever been in such a pressure-filled situation before, McMullin said, "not to win this tournament. It has always eluded me in the past."
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"My caddie and I lined it up like we had discussed every other putt previously in the tournament. I just thought of it as another putt. Once it went in, it was definitely more exciting. I’ve watched the putt over and over, and I still don’t believe it went in."
The Parkite said she lost in the Elite 8 round last year, the first of the match-play format.
The 43-year-old McMullin bested friend and fellow finalist Poffenberger, 42, to become the oldest Utah State Am winner since 1979.
"I think it was special for both of us," McMullin said. "Whichever one of us ended up winning, a veteran was going to break through."
She added: "It’s been very exciting. I was playing people half my age this year as well as last year. The younger guns have definitely been dominating the tournaments for the last 15 years. These college and high school golfers, they can just hit the ball so far. They’re out-driving me by 40 yards."
She attributed her breakthrough victory to staying focused on each hole, and her putting game.
After taking up the sport 16 years ago, McMullin said it took her game years to evolve. She didn’t start contending in tournaments until seven or eight years ago, she said.
"I’ve come close, but never really close enough to have a legitimate shot," she said of previous State Am tournaments. "It’s been the tournament that has meant the most to me here in Utah. In the past, for one reason or another, things didn’t work out. It just didn’t seem to come together; it all came together this time."
Implementing tweaks to her putting stroke and significant changes in her swing proved to be the difference this year, she said. But praise also went to her caddie and friend Mary Beth Birsky.
"She definitely deserves credit in the victory," McMullin said. "She was there every step of the way for every putt and every shot, trying to keep me under control."
McMullin owns a small business in Park City and is a member of the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course where she recently won the club championship. She will be defending that title this year. Next year, she’ll be defending the 105th annual Women’s State Amateur trophy that now sits comfortably in the Jeremy Ranch clubhouse.