NOBLESVILLE, Ind. - Stroke-play medalist Margaret Shirley
never trailed en route to a 5-and-3 win over defending champion Julia Potter in the 2014 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship, conducted at the 6,117-yard, par-72 Harbour Trees Golf Club
"It just doesn't feel real right now," said Shirley
, who was runner-up to Potter in 2013.
Shirley, 28, of Atlanta, joins Carol Semple Thompson (1997), Ellen Port (2000) and Potter (2013) as the only stroke-play medalists to take the championship title.
struck first, knocking her
hybrid approach at the par-4 first hole to 12 feet and holing the birdie.
"That putt kind of got me going for the rest of the round," said Shirley, a director of Rules and competitions for Atlanta Junior Golf.
advantage to 2 up with a two-putt par at No. 3.
drained a 25-foot birdie to regain her
2-up advantage and start her
"That's actually the first time I've hit that green all week," said Shirley, who graduated from Auburn University in 2008.
"I was just happy to be on that green.
And that putt was dead center.
On the inward nine, Shirley
kept putting pressure on her
found the left greenside bunker, but converted the up-and-down par for the win and a 3-up lead.
Shirley's hot hand with the putter again played to her
advantage on the par-4 11th.
After Potter chipped to within 3 feet for par, Shirley
drained an 18-foot birdie putt for a 4-up lead.
When Potter missed a par comebacker on No. 13, Shirley
had a dormie-5 lead.
Families were a weeklong presence for Shirley
"Julia is a great champion, obviously a phenomenal player but an even better person," said Shirley
That's what my dad was out there for me, and I'm sure that's the same for Margaret
"Clearly we have a lot in common and a lot to talk about, but I'm very happy for her
family to experience what my family and I experienced last year.
This was the fourth time in championship history that the final match included two players in their 20s, including the 1993 and 1994 finals as well as the Potter-Shirley match in 2013.
Both players needed to finish their semifinal matches on Thursday morning due to torrential rains and storms that halted play on Wednesday.
cruised to a 5-and-4 win over four-time champion Meghan Stasi, while Potter took a 2-and-1 victory over Tara Joy-Connelly.
receives a 10-year Women's Mid-Amateur exemption, as well as a two-year exemption into the U.S. Women's Amateur.