HYDE - On her drive to the Highland Golf Club on Sunday, Gladstone's Holly Canull was terrified of the prospect of facing off against Gogebic's Nancy Osier in the first round of match play at the UPLGA Championship.
Canull, the No. 11 seed, having never been in the championship flight before, was set to face a two-time senior women's open champion in No. 6 seed Osier.
Despite her rookie status in the championship flight, Canull overcame her nerves and made the clutch shots when she needed to and went on to defeat Osier in a four-hole playoff.
"I was terrified to come here this morning," Canull said. "She (Osier) has such a reputation throughout the U.P. She's been a two-time senior women's champ. She pushed me and pushed me, and it forced me to stay in my zone. This is a shock."
Neither Canull or Osier were up after 18, so the duo went to a playoff on the par-4 first hole, where Canull would make the first of two putts to stay alive.
With Osier already on the green-eight-feet from the cup-Canull was still off the green, a few yards on the back fringe of the hole. She put her fourth shot seven feet from the cup, meaning Osier would just have to sink her putt for par to win.
As the ball left Osier's putter, it looked like it was headed for the bottom of the hole, but the ball lost steam right at the last moment, giving Canull life. She capitalized and sunk her seven-footer for bogey to avoid elimination.
"Maybe most disappointing was that putt on one, where it stopped right at the lip," Osier said. "I could have won the match there, but I didn't."
It was the same story on the par-4 second. Osier would go on to score a bogey, with Canull facing another decently sized putt for bogey. This time, a nine-foot putt that went uphill.
Same situation, same result, as Canull sunk it to send the match into a third playoff.
The two would each tally bogeys on the par-5 third hole. Canull had a par putt to win, but just like Osier's par putt on No. 1, it lipped out.
With the two headed to the 131-yard par-3 fourth, Canull went in her bag and grabbed one of her most reliable clubs-her seven wood.
"My dad gave it to me many years ago and it hasn't come out of my bag," Canull said. "It's just a little security blanket for me. It normally does what I want it to do."
The dependable club came through for Canull, again. This time, she landed her ball on the green, setting herself up to win the hole.
Osier landed just left and short of the green on her tee shot and sent her second shot to the back part of the green. Canull's birdie putt went just past the hole, allowing herself to make an easy par.
Facing a par putt to send the playoff to another hole, Osier couldn't sink it, giving Canull a victory in the first match of her career in the championship flight.
In addition to it being her first win, Canull had many other reasons to feel excited after the match.
"My father, Peter Peterson, did his best U.P.'s at the Highland," she said. "I believed he finished runner-up back in the 60's. I think he was with me today, helping me. I'm just so happy to be here and happy to be in the championship flight with my friend Lori Shea who has been a mentor to me for years and years. It's just a great day."
Shea the No. 5 seed, also out of Gladstone, had a hotly contested match as well.
With her and Indian Lake's Jackie Villemure all squared after 15 holes, Shea took control of the match on the par-3 No. 16.
Both golfers hit the green on their tee shots, but it would be Shea who would make par, as Villemure three-putted for bogey.
"That was probably my first good par-3 approach to the green," Shea said. "I had not been hitting the par-3's at all, today."
Up one, headed to the par-5 17th, Shea continued playing well down the stretch, when it mattered, as she sank an uphill eight-foot putt for par to win the match.
"On 17, I did take out my driver," Shea said. I was debating if I was going to or not. With the wind against us, I thought you know what, it will slow up a little bit because of that hazard right there. Luckily, I was in the corner. I didn't have a good second shot. On my third shot, I just wanted it right between those two sand traps, and I did that. And then I chipped it up nicely and sank the putt."
Besides Canull defeating Osier, there were no other upsets on the day. Marquette's Avery Rochester earned the No. 1 seed after firing a 68 (five birdies, one bogey) on Saturday, and advanced 8 and 7 after 11 holes over No. 16 Marie Bellville, of Indian Lake.
"I hit the ball pretty well," Rochester said of her weekend. "My putting has been really good, so far this weekend. I've only have had one three-putt so far."
Rochester advances to face No. 8 seed Pam Frankini of Pine Grove, who defeated No. 9 Courtney Castelic 3 and 1. Despite her successful weekend, Rochester is putting it behind her and instead, focusing on what lies ahead.
"I can't think that I shot a 68 or I can't think about the round yesterday because that will just get in my head," she said. "If I'm not hitting the ball well, I can't think this isn't as good as I was hitting the ball before. It's just a new round of golf. Not everyday is going to be as good as the last, and it could be better than the last. We'll just have to see."
No. 4 Karen Wiles of Escanaba topped No. 13 Tina Weiland of Wawonowin 7 and 6, and No. 2 Zoe Woodworth of Calumet had no problems advancing past No. 15 Audrey Caputo of The Crossings in Sault Ste. Marie, winning 8 and 7.
No. 10 seed Jayne Mackowiak was the only member of the Highland to qualify for the championship flight, but she fell 9 and 8 to Oak Crest's Leah Faketty.
In the final match of the first round of championship flight play, Pine Grove's JoAnn Poncino won the 18th hole, to defeat Gladstone's Lisa LaCasse.
Those who were defeated in the first round will now head to the president's flight, and the winners from Sunday will now have their second round matchups today, with tee times beginning at 11:20 a.m.
Woodworth, Faketty, Poncino, and Canull will tee off at 11:20 a.m., while Rochester, Frankini, Wiles, and Shea go off at 11:30 a.m.