Minnesota Golf Association

Acharya Makes It Looks Easy in 3rd Straight Mid-Am Victory

August 30, 2021

HASTINGS -- The 2018 MGA Women's Mid-Amateur was a kind of coming out party for Jasi Acharya. Not many people around here knew who she was then, but that was because she grew up in Montana, where she won four state high school titles and two State Amateur championships. Then she turned professional and played in tournaments on both the LPGA and Symetra tours. 

When she took a job as manager of a sales territory for PXG golf equipment that encompasses 5 1/2 states, she moved to Minnesota. That was five years ago, but it wasn't until early in 2018 that she got her amateur status back. 

So that Mid-Am three years ago marked her return to tournament competition. She played pretty well, tying Olivia Herrick for first with a 36-hole total of 150. But she lost in a playoff.  

Afterward, she said: "Olivia is a really good player, and I hope that we have a chance to play against each other in the future."

She has gotten her wish on several occasions, and Monday saw another renewal in the rivalry at Hastings Golf Club in the 2021 Mid-Am.

Acharya won this one. She shot an even-par 72, which gave her a 36-hole aggregate of 148 and a five-stroke victory over Herrick, who suffered a couple of crippling double bogeys on the way to an 81. Rachel Hernandez shot 82 and was another two strokes back, in third at 155. Paige McCullough, the 2017 Mid-Am champ, followed a 78 with a 79, and the resulting 157 was good for fourth place.

On a day when Herrick and all of the other contenders were struggling, Acharya seemed in full control of her game, making only a couple of minor mistakes. The 37-year-old former University of Montana star -- and Big Sky Conference individual champion --  had the low score of the day by six shots. McCullough, Adele Peterson (78), Betsy Aldrich (79) and Julie Oerther (78) were the only other players to break 80. 

Basically, Acharya lapped the field. 

"Jasi was really solid today, and I wasn't," Herrick lamented. The other contenders would have echoed those words. 

Acharya had come into the tournament as the two-time defending champion, but Herrick, who has won this tournament three times (2014, '15 and '18), shot an even-par 72 on Sunday and had a one-stroke lead going into the final round. Rachel Hernandez, the member services manager for the MGA, was second with a 73. Acharya, whose first nine holes in the opening round included only two pars, along with five bogeys and two birdies, was four behind with a 76.

Just as Acharya had spent some time away from golf tournaments (waiting for her amateur status to be reinstated), so did Herrick. She was a new mother in 2019. That, plus having a successful business to run (Olivia Herrick Design), kept her out of competition for a year. She was back in action last year, although not quite as sharp as she'd been before the maternity leave. She tied for third in the 2020 Mid-Am, but finished nine behind Acharya and never really contended for the crown.

This year, Herrick, 33,  seems back on form. She tied for fifth in the State Amateur a month ago, and on Sunday, she made 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey in a relatively stress-free 72.

On Monday, she made a bogey right off the bat, on the first hole, but the winner of more than 20 Minnesota state titles bounced back with a birdie at the 445-yard, par-5 third hole. When she got to the tee at the fifth hole (350 yards, par 4), she seemed to be in control of her own destiny. She was even par for the tournament, two ahead of Hernandez and three ahead of Acharya. But then she started to leak a little oil.

A bogey at the fifth was followed shortly thereafter by a double at the 405-yard, par-5 seventh. Suddenly, she was tied with Acharya, who birdied the fourth, and Hernandez, who had bogeyed the second and sixth holes. They were all 3 over for the tournament. They remained tied when all three bogeyed the 355-yard, par-4 eighth, probably the hardest hole on the course. (The top 15 finishers in the 2012 Men's State Amateur -- which was won by Erik van Rooyen -- averaged nearly a full stroke over par on the eighth at Hastings.)

Hernandez also bogeyed the par-3 ninth, and when she and Herrick both bogeyed the par-5 10th, Acharya had the lead for good. Herrick made another double at the 12th (330 yards, par 4); Acharya made a 4-footer for birdie at the 13th; and when Herrick and Hernandez both bogeyed the 14th (325, par 4), the tournament was pretty much over. 

Acharya was putting the ball where she wanted to with virtually every shot she hit. Her only bogey on the back nine came at the 150-yard, par-3 15th hole, where her tee shot came up a yard short of the green. Another 5 feet, and the shot would have bounced to within 10 feet of the hole. As it was, she  was only 35 feet from the cup, but she hit a weak chip and missed an 8-foot putt for par.

Other than that, it was all fairways and greens on the incoming nine for the 2019 MGA Women's Player of the Year. 

With the victory on Monday, Acharya now has three Mid-Am championships in a row, but that's not the record for this tournament, which came into existance in 1997. Leigh Klasse won five in a row, from 2004 to '08, and she added another Mid-Am title to her resume in 2011, giving her six in all. Claudia Pilot is the only other woman besides Klasse and Acharya to have won three in a row (2001, '02, '03), and she has a total of five. 

MGA Women's Mid-Amateur Championship

At Hastings Golf Club

Par 72


Final results 

1. Jasi Acharya, Interlachen                        76-72--148

2. Olivia Herrick, Dellwood                           72-81--153

3. Rachel Hernandez, MGA                         73-82--155

4. Paige McCullough, Stillwater                   78-79--157

5. Adele Peterson, Bearpath                        81-78--159

6. Betsy Aldrich, Woodhill                            81-79--160

7. Jacqueline Santopietro, Monticello          81-81--162

8. Lynn Anderson, Braemar                         83-80--163

T9. Julie Oerther, Minnesota Valley             89-78--167

T9. Brenda Williams, Windsong Farm         81-86--167

1st Flight 

1. Linda Goodno, Keller                              90-83--173

2. M.J. Graphenteen, Luverne                     84-90--174

3. Ellie Layton, Rochester                            86-89--175

4. Anna Drahos, Valleywood                       92-87--179


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