The last time Kelly (Truc) Ly teed up a golf ball in a competitive setting, she was at Norwood Hills CC in Missouri at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, which was her second straight appearance in the championship at the time. Finishing well within the cut line to advance to the match play portion of the championship, Ly was eliminated in the Round of 64. Shortly after, she took a break from competing.
It wasn’t until the 2023 SCGA Women’s Mid-Amateur at Mesa Verde CC that Ly would find herself in contention for another trophy. But if you asked her, winning wasn’t even a thought in her mind, at least initially.
“I was quite nervous on the first tee shot. I tried to keep it together,” Ly said. “I came out to have fun with my caddie and all the sudden, I played amazing. At one point I was like, ‘Maybe we can get this thing.’”
Shooting a 77 in the first round, she positioned herself within arm’s reach of the top-10 and three strokes off the clubhouse leader heading into the final round. As the rust surely wore off through her first 18, Ly started her second 18 with five birdies through seven holes, which promptly moved her name to the top of the leaderboard put her in the driver’s seat as she approached the back.
“My short game was amazing, not so much with the driver,” Ly said of her hot start. “It was my approach shots that set up for those birdie putts … and luckily they went in.”
Her lead quickly grew to three strokes as she approached the tenth hole tee box, with a trio of past SCGA champions (Monica Martin, Leanne Craig and Eunice Cho) chasing Ly as they made the turn.
But Ly rolled in two more clutch birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to extinguish any hope of catching her. Walking off No. 18 with at even-par 71 on the scorecard, Ly logged the lowest round of the championship en route to becoming a first-time SCGA title winner on Tuesday.
“I’m very, very happy,” Ly said. “I didn’t plan to win but I came here to play, had fun and I’m quite nervous right now and excited that I took home this trophy … I’m looking forward to playing more SCGA events, especially this one as defending champion.”
This championship brings together golfers of various backgrounds and skill levels. Some, like Ly and Melanie Furuta, are re-introducing themselves to the competitive side of the game. In Furuta’s case, she had not played a competitively since she qualified for the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur. Once the nerves subsided on Monday, she found her groove and earned a top-15 finish.
“[SCGA tournaments] are the best tournaments in the nation as far as local associations go,” Furuta said. “It was super cool to come out here. The guys did a great job running the tournament. The course was in amazing condition given the weather we’ve had. Everyone I played with was wonderful. It was an awesome experience to be here.”
There are also players like Karen Manson, who competed in her first championship ever at 49-years-old. For her, it was the perfect opportunity to not only test the waters of competitive golf, but expose herself to an elevated course experience and make new golf friends in the process.
“I think it’s fun to play with other women that can play,” Manson said. “To watch these ladies smack the ball 200 yards, to watch them hit par after par … It puts it to a new level and I’m really honored to be on this new level and I hope to come back and do better in the future.”