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For the last 20 years, Sally Robinson has often played the role of the hunted while competing in Toledo Women’s District Golf Association events.
These days, the association’s six-time player of the year (2004-2009) has become the hunter, chasing former University of Toledo player Helene Beat.
Robinson missed a chance to win her 10th TWDGA match play championship on Friday, falling to Beat, 4-and-2, in the championship flight final at Valleywood Golf Club.
Beat, a former ladies pro at Inverness Club, regained her amateur status last year. She joined the TWDGA, and promptly earned 2010 player-of-the-year honors. The defending champion in this event, Beat also topped Robinson in last year’s match play final.
The hunter-hunted theme played out on the course Friday, as Robinson used solid putting to offset Beat’s superior driving and long-iron play until the late going.
“Sally makes a lot of long putts and I don’t,” said Beat, who works for Merrill Lynch and plays at Highland Meadows. “I can’t control what Sally does. It’s awesome that she’s so great at putting. Maybe she’ll give me some pointers.
“It’s just frustrating when I don’t make the little ones. I was over-reading a lot of them, and a lot of them weren’t very good putts.”
Robinson, who never led, missed a chance to pull even when her 25-foot putt for birdie lipped out on the par-5 sixth hole. But she did tie the match on the next green. Her five-foot putt for par dropped after Beat missed a nine-footer and made bogey.
At that point, Beat had seen much of her edge in tee-to-green distance erased before the cup by Robinson’s crafty short game.
“I tried not to watch what she was doing, but she’s a very good player,” Robinson said. “Her drives are way out there, and she’s going in with an iron where I may be going in with a wood.
“I tried to beat the course. If I could beat the course, I figured I could beat Helene. But I didn’t beat the course.”
“That’s when I started to take advantage,” she said. “I hit it close with my wedges and capitalized.”
She took the lead for good on No. 9 when Robinson missed a 20-footer to make bogey, and extended the lead by winning Nos. 12 and 15.
After both players birdied the par-4 11th hole, Beat earned her fourth birdie of the match on No. 12 after chipping to within three feet.
She set up her title repeat by saving par on No. 15, chipping from left of the green some 30 feet away from the pin to inside of a foot. Robinson bogeyed that par-3 hole after sailing her tee shot off the back of the green.
Down three with three holes to play, Robinson decided to go for broke.
She took an alternate route to the green on the 311-yard par-4 16th, playing across a creek to the right seeking to shave some distance and gain a more promising angle to the elevated green.
By the time Robinson got to the green — after hitting her approach well short and flubbing a subsequent chip — Beat had reached the green in two shots, and her tap-in par clinched things.
“I knew I had to make something happen,” said Robinson, who plays at Chippewa Golf Course. “I had never played that hole that way. I would try it again. I just didn’t come up with what I needed to.”
Beat was playing in her first TWDGA event of the season after completing work on her master’s degree. With more free time the rest of the summer, she plans to start playing catch-up in the points race.
Beat played two years at Stetson University in Florida before transferring to UT for her final two years.
“I think my experience with teaching the swing really helped my own personal game,” Beat said.
The next major TWDGA event will be the stroke play championship tourney Aug. 10-12 at Brandywine.
Robinson, a Toledo Public Schools teacher, won this event in 1988, ‘90, ‘92, ‘97, ‘98, 2004, ‘06, ‘08 and’09. She has been runner-up five times.
In the consolation flight final, Pam Hardy scored a 1-up victory over Diane Rich.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com or 419-724-6461.