SANTA ANA PUEBLO — After giving back every bit of a six-stroke lead, and then some, Naomi Ramirez recovered on the final five holes Sunday to stave off challenger Samantha Surette in the New Mexico-West Texas Women’s Amateur championship.
Surette, however, was able to polish off a two-putt bogey on the final hole at the Santa Ana Golf Club to take home the Albuquerque Women’s Championship for the first time.
Ramirez finished with a 10-over 226 after a 78 Sunday, while Surette shot a 76 to finish with a 14-over 230. She finished a stroke ahead of Ashlee Garrett and defending city champ Shannelle Tafoya for the Albuquerque title.
Ramirez, of Ciudad Juaréz, carded four double bogeys on the first 10 holes and eventually fell three strokes behind Surette shortly after the turn.
“I guess I was off on my concentration and I was little nervous, too,” Ramirez said. “I had such a well, not a big lead, but a lead, which threw me off a little. I don’t know how to explain it. The doubles, my course management was a little off. I didn’t think as smart and wasn’t doing what I was doing (Saturday) and (Friday).”
From 4 over, she fell all the way to 13 over, while Surette was playing steady golf, still sitting at 10-over through 10.
But that’s when things turned around for Ramirez, who will be a sophomore golfer at UTEP in the fall, while Surette started to hand a few strokes back herself.
By the 336-yard, par-4 14th hole, the two were tied at 13 over and Ramirez was mired in the short rough, a situation that had been a problem throughout the tournament.
“I was having a hard time with this rough,” Ramirez said. “I don’t think we have anything like it in El Paso. I’ve been pulling it a little from the rough but on 14, I just got the hang of it. That one I had to hit it far because it was in between some of my clubs.”
She not only hit it far, but right at the pin, with the shot coming to rest just over a foot from the hole.
Surette’s approach also was on the green, but she was looking at a 15-footer for birdie. She rolled it in, putting the pressure on Ramirez.
“You’re expecting a par but when she made it, I was like, ‘She’s not going to just let me take this hole,'” Ramirez said.
For Surette, however, that was the start of a rough patch, with the 360-yard, par-4 proving to be the pivotal hole.
“I started grinding,” she said. “I didn’t need to grind. I just need to play my game like I do. But I started grinding after that. I’m not a grinder apparently.”
Ramirez delivered another pinpoint approach, lying about three feet below the pin, while Surette was scrambling to try to save par. But Ramirez easily knocked in her birdie, while Surette’s putter failed her, leaving her with a bogey and a two-stroke swing.
From that point, Surette was simply trying to hang on for the metro-area championship.
“She finished strong,” she said of Ramirez. “You have to give it to her. If you’re going to get beat, get beat by birdies. That’s a great thing. I think I started pressing myself. I was trying harder and that’s not the way I play. I just have fun and swing.”
Ramirez grabbed a third consecutive birdie on 16, and finished out the round with easy pars.
“I was just trying to get it close and give me a chance to make up for some of those shots that were a little off,” she said. “I was playing myself most off all. I knew I could birdie those holes because I did (Saturday). Most of all, I was trying not to give away so many shots like I did on the front nine.”
While Surette’s bid at winning both titles came up short — it hasn’t been done since the tournaments were combined in 2015 — she said holding the Albuquerque championship is a memorable moment.
“So this is my biggest victory,” she said. “I wished I would have finished a little stronger. But I’m happy. I’m worn out but I’m happy.”