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Sarah Anast was quick to give a shout out after her win Saturday.
“Emily helped me a lot,” Anast said, talking about her caddy Emily Fortgang. “She kept my mind off golf. I didn’t have to think about it and about what I was doing. I know I can play, I just had to go out and do it.”
Anast trailed big early to her opponent in the women’s Atomic City Invitational final, Anita Dunmar, but got on a roll to cut into that lead. Anast would hold on at the final hole to take a 1-up victory Saturday.
Anast, a former Los Alamos Hilltopper state champion who now plays for Colorado State University and majors in sports medicine, dropped a 6-foot putt on the ninth hole — the women’s flight started on the back nine — to secure the victory.
Fortgang, Anast’s former teammate, kept the mood light for her all day, which helped her relax, particularly after Dunmar started Saturday’s play as hot as a pistol.
Dunmar, a nine-time tournament winner herself, grabbed a 4-hole lead just five holes into the match and led by one after 13 holes.
But Anast’s 270-yard blast off the fifth tee led to a birdie to even the bout. Anast would get herself out of trouble, landing her tee shot on the seventh into a repair area right of the fairway — she elected not to take a drop but to hit from the lie.
“I was all upset,” Anast said of putting her shot into the dirt when she was actually hoping to place a nice, easy shot on the fairway. “I was able to birdie, even though it wasn’t exactly as I planned.”
The birdie put her up a hole, a lead she would never relinquish.
Dunmar, who helped coach Anast as a kid, outlasted 2007 champion Barbara Schmitt in Friday’s semifinal to advance to face Anast in the title match.
Dunmar and Schmitt played a grueling 21 holes Friday before Dunmar caught a break on the 17th hole and held on for the victory.
Schmitt hit her tee shot into the woods on the par-3 17th, while Dunmar kept her tee shot short of the green.
Schmitt couldn’t extract herself from trouble, while Dunmar’s conservative approach on the hole paid off for her. Dunmar settled for a bogey, which was good enough to win the hole and the semifinal contest.
Following that win, Dunmar said her performance on the 16th hole, the 20th hole of play for the pair, after an errant tee shot, helped her to hold on.
“Mentally I was so tired,” she said. “I hit it in the woods, but Barb went into the woods, too…she was on (the green) in three, and I was on in three. We both got bogeys, but that gave me some momentum.”
For 18 holes, Dunmar shot a 77, while Schmitt shot an 83.
The two traded holes for much of the day with neither having much of an edge throughout.
Dunmar said it was her short game that kept her neck-and-neck with the defending champ.
In Friday’s other semifinal, Anast was dominant against Martha Waters, needing just 13 holes to win 7-5.
Anast played a steady round throughout. Waters said afterward that she just never got on track to give Anast much of a run for her money.
In the third place match, Schmitt also had to dig herself out of a hole, coming back from three down to win 1-up over Waters.
Schmitt said she would’ve been very surprised to repeat as ACI champ with a tough field standing in he way.
“I knew we had a bigger field in the championship flight than last year,” Schmitt said. “I didn’t think coming in I had a chance to win. I thought I’d try for second.”
As for Anast, she said she will play in the Buffalo Run Tournament in Colorado, a three-day, stroke play contest, this weekend.
Anast said she started off well in the fall of her freshman year at CSU, but her coaches have been trying to rebuild her swings, everything from her drive to her chip, and she struggled in the fall.
“I’ve worked through it myself, and I prayed a lot,” she said. “It’s going a lot better.”