In the Hunt Again, Acharya Moves Closer to First State Victory at MGA Women's Mid-Amateur
September 10, 2019
By Nick Hunter
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Playing in her first Minnesota state championship last year at the Legends Club at the Minnesota Golf Association Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, Jasi Acharya, a former professional and Big Sky Conference champion while at the University of Montana, played an identical 36 holes to Olivia Herrick, forcing a playoff before falling to Herrick on the first playoff hole for a runner-up finish.
At the MGA Women’s Match Play Championship in June, Acharya faced University of Minnesota golfer Grace Kellar in the championship match before Keller claimed the championship on the fourth extra hole to deny Acharya yet again.
Acharya carded a final-round 78 in late July to place seventh at the MGA Women’s Amateur Championship and a week later entered the final round of the Women’s State Open two shots off the lead. Following a final-round 73, Acharya once again was forced to playoff to claim her first state championship win, but would claim a third runner-up finish instead after Kate Smith sank a long-distance birdie putt on the first playoff hole.
“I’m really good at finishing second,” Acharya joked following her round Tuesday. “I just need to keep doing what I have been. I haven’t practiced much lately, and that’s on me, but being in those situations, I feel like I’ve been there before. In my previous career, that was something I was much more accustomed to. It’s fun and I like that feeling, but hopefully I can piece together something tomorrow and be right there.
“Tomorrow I need to stay in the moment as much as possible. I feel like I’ll be a little more prepared—I’d never played the course before and there are some shots that are visually dicey. I like the spot that I’m in and would’ve certainly liked to have played better on the back nine.”
Firing a 2-over 74 Tuesday at the 23rd MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Bearpath Golf and Country Club, Acharya is once again in contention to claim her first state win, but will have to fend off six-time winner Leigh Klasse, who lurks one shot off the lead.
“I played a lot in July, but in the last month I haven’t played much because I’ve been busy at work,” Acharya said Tuesday. “I was a little rusty the first few holes and didn’t even hit it that great, I just made a few big putts in a row and got it rolling.
“My drives were kind of squirrely and I didn’t hit anything close. I made a lot of pars, but it was kind of a messy round.
Acharya carded bogey on her second hole of the opening round Tuesday before putting her way to the top of the leaderboard beginning with a 30-footer for birdie at the fourth to draw even.
Sinking her birdie look from eight feet at the fifth, Acharya moved into red figures for the championship and added another birdie at the sixth from 20 feet to get to 2-under for the round.
A bogey at the par-5 ninth hole put Acharya to her inward nine at 1-under par, but she would stumble late Tuesday, carding bogeys on three of her final five holes to post a 2-over 74 to take the first-round lead.
As a former professional, Acharya made more than 35 appearances on both the LPGA and Symetra Tours. Prior to turning professional, Acharya notched four individual state high school titles as well as a pair of Montana State Amateur victories and was elected to the Montana State Women’s Golf Association Hall of Fame before the age of 35.
Klasse, whose first Mid-Amateur title came in 2004 and most recent in 2011, got off to a fast start with a birdie on the opening hole before bogeys at the third and seventh holes put her to the back nine in 1-over. Klasse traded a birdie at the 12th with a bogey at the 14th before pulling her approach into the penalty area on the final hole, leading to a double-bogey and a round of 3-over 75.
Betsy Aldrich, who claimed the MGA Women’s Senior Amateur Match Play Championship in June, played her opening nine in even par Tuesday before carding three bogeys over her final nine holes to finish in a tie for second with Klasse at 3-over 75.
The final round of the 23rd MGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship gets underway at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday at Bearpath Golf and Country Club.