By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — A few months ago, Jade Staggs’ career was in peril. After parting ways with the University of Oklahoma golf team, she made the decision to set out on her own to prove to herself and others she can make it in the golf world.
However, after a few tournaments of playing well, Staggs still had no hardware to call her own. That changed Thursday when the Westmoore graduate won the 95th State Amateur Championship at The Greens Country Club in Oklahoma City. It was her first win of any kind since she left high school.
“It feels really good,” Staggs said. “I’ve had a lot of support from people that helped me to get through the tough times. And to be able to win a tournament like this after everything, it helps me to build confidence and keep believing in my ability.”
Staggs defeated No. 6 seed Taylor Neidy 3 and 2 in the championship match. The win earned her an automatic spot on Oklahoma’s Fore State Team and USGA State Team.
“I feel like I played pretty well all week,” Staggs said. “I felt was playing solid. I was hitting my irons well. I struggled with my putting a little bit, but I had my dad give me some tips. Then after that, I kind of felt a little bit more comfortable. A little bit more successful. I struggled on the front nine in all my matches, but I knew if I could keep it close, the back nine were mine to take.”
Staggs entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed. Just to get to the finals, she had to beat No. 4 seed Kelly Fuchik in the quarterfinals and top seed Nadia Majidi in the semifinal round. It took her 19 holes to get past Majidi.
“I felt like after yesterday’s match against Nadia, after I won the playoff, I felt like I had the right mentality and the right game plan to pull it off the final match,” Staggs said. “The key was just staying patient and realizing it was going to be a marathon. I just kind of had to keep hanging around and give myself opportunities.”
Staggs was coming off a solid showing at the 2013 Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, which was played at the Jimmie Austin Golf Club, the home course of the University of Oklahoma.
After qualifying for the WAPL, Staggs shot a 148 over the first two days to advance to the match play portion of the tournament. She won her first round match and had a lead heading into the final hole in the round of 32. That’s when the wheels fell off for Staggs.
“On the final hole I had a one-up lead and was trying to prevent the match from going into extra holes,” Staggs said. “I had 230 yards into the green and was down wind so I decided to commit myself to going for the green in two to give myself an eagle chance. I went for it and my ball hit the tree and kicked down into the creek and I lost the hole.”
It was a bitter pill for Staggs to swallow. To be one hole away from the round of 16 in only her second tournament since parting ways with OU would have been an incredible boost. However, going through that helped her to win the SAC this week.
“I felt like my experience in the Public Links, in the match play against those players, helped me to be patient,” Staggs said. “And to realize that I’ve been down before to some of the best players in the country and manage to win. I think that gave me confidence.”