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Yatawara-Coltrane team wins Labor Day women’s title

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By Dennis Davidson
dennis.davidson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The team of Lily Yatawara and Sarah Coltrane led all the way on Monday, winning the annual Labor Day women’s golf championship match over Kaley Barts and Kathy Carlton, 3 and 1, at the Country Club of Salisbury.

Coltrane, a senior on the Catawba College golf team, ended the match on the par-3 17th hole, rolling in a 15-foot putt.

Yatawara, a former collegiate golfer at Appalachian State, and now a 25-year-old working in Charlotte, adds another championship to her family’s legacy. Her sister, Grace, a senior at East Carolina, teamed with Allison Adams to win the first five Labor Day women’s titles (2011-15).

Carlton and Barts, also a senior at Catawba, were the defending champs of the tournament and the No. 1 seed this year. They survived a highly competitive semifinal on Sunday, defeating Sandra Brink and Susan Morris, 1-up.

Coltrane and Yatawara, seeded third, also had a tough battle on Sunday, defeating the No. 2-seeded team of Kristi Laton and Alice Slyven, 2-up.

To view more photos from Monday’s championship flight, click here.

On Monday, both Coltrane and Yatawara had early birdies, building a 3-hole lead after playing just four. The two teams then halved the next five holes.

“Last year, I made a lot more putts and hit the ball a lot closer to the flag,” explained Barts. “That’s really what the difference was today — the putts. Last year, I made so many putts, I think was 7-under par on my own. They were just dropping everywhere. But not this year.”

Barts and Carlton’s deficit was extended to four holes on No. 10, as Yatawara hit a great drive and second shot. Her chip was to within two feet and she made the tap-in birdie putt. “That putt was an easy one,” said Yatawara, who like her sister, was a standout at Salisbury High School. “I needed easy ones today.”

The next two holes were even, but on the par-5 13th, Barts’ chip from the left, just off the green, led to a short birdie putt. She dropped it in the cup, pulling her team to within three holes, with five to go.

None of the four players managed to make their birdie putts on neither the par-3 No. 14, nor the par-5 15th, but Barts came through again on No. 16.

Facing elimination on the par-4 16th, Barts’ 46-yard approach to the elevated green was pin-high and within three feet, avoiding the false front. Meanwhile, Coltrane hit what appeared to be a close-to-the-pin shot, but it rolled back down the slope, leaving her a 15-foot putt.

“I was going to run up there and mark it, but it started rolling back too quickly,” said Coltrane.

Barts sank her putt, cutting the deficit to two holes, as Coltrane and Yatawara settled for pars. “No. 16 could have been our last hole and that was a lot of pressure,” said Barts.

Now two holes down with two to play, Barts pulled her tee shot on No. 17 just a little left, leaving a long, downhill putt — which she ended up missing to the left. Coltrane had the closest look for birdie and she sank the 15-footer, ending the match.

“I had a good run at it,” Barts said, of her putt on No. 17. “I just missed it, on the high side. It would have been nice to have made that one and play one more hole, but it wasn’t to be, especially after Sarah made her putt.”

Coltrane now has the bragging rights over her college teammate, Barts, but it was Yatawara who had the explanation of how the title was won.

“There was nothing spectacular today, but we had no bogeys,” said Yatawara. “Our motto was, ‘let’s just get on the dance floor.’ It put a lot of pressure on our opponents if we were both on the green, putting for birdies, because we were probably going to get par, at least.”

Coltrane added that the two avoided having bad holes at the same time. “We covered each other if one of us had a poor drive or second shot,” she said. “We constantly covered each other’s backs.”

Yatawara said that while she only plays a couple of times of month, she has been in the gym, staying fit and getting stronger. “Yes, I’ve been lifting,” she laughed. “Working out keeps me on my game, for when I do make it out to the golf course. But winning today makes me want to play more. I’m feeling competitive now.”

She added that it’s nice to join her sister as a Labor Day champion.

“It does feel good to win,” Yatawara said. “Everybody practices all year and looks forward to this tournament. Grace won a few — more than a few — but now, I’ve got my title.”

Carlton was just fine with a runner-up finish as she has her eyes on the bigger picture.

“Everyone is excited about the college girls playing with some of the women here at the club,” said Carlton. “It’s a three-day commitment and not everyone wants to do that, so it’s nice to see everyone have a chance and these girls level the playing field. We’ve just got to keep it going and keep it growing.”

Carlton noted that the women’s event had eight teams and 16 women playing, twice as many as just a few years ago. “It’s been a great weekend,” she added, “but we would like to have even more women participating.”

Barts, of Apex, and Coltrane, from Asheboro, both acknowledged that playing in the Labor Day tournament helps prepare them for the college season, which begins next weekend.

“Winning this last year actually helped my confidence,” said Barts. “It was definitely a mental booster because for sure, there’s a bigger audience watching you here than in college tournaments. It’s usually just our parents and coaches watching us then.”

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