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Linder perseveres to capture her third TGA title at Women’s Match Play Championship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Rule of Three’s was in full effect for Sophie Linder, so much so we might’ve been able to see this coming. The future Ole Miss women’s golfer picked up her third Tennessee Golf Association title in three years at the 3rd Tennessee Women’s Match Play Championship. Linder defeated Gallatin’s Lynn Lim in 22 holes in the weather-delayed final match at Belle Meade Country Club.

Linder’s path to the title was full of challenges, but ones she was up for. Only one of her three pool play matches made it past the 13th hole, where the Carthage native defeated Wartrace’s Vilda Westh Blanc 3 & 2 to pick up her second match win. Linder also defeated Tennessee Golf Hall of Famer Sarah Ingram with a commanding 8 & 7 victory to punch her ticket into the elimination bracket.

From there, Linder continued to methodically take down her competitors. She led from the jump against Ooltewah’s Katie Scheck and never relinquished the lead. A par on 15 was good enough to put Linder up four with three to play, advancing her to the semifinals.

Her semifinal match-up featured a changing of the guard of sort for Ole Miss women’s golf. Linder will join the team in the coming fall, while her opponent Madeleine May recently announced her transfer from Ole Miss to Indiana University. A birdie on the first hole gave May an early lead, but Linder bounced back with a win of her own on next hole. The match was tied at the turn following May’s win on the ninth, but once again Linder responded immediately by winning the 10th hole.

After winning the 15th hole, Linder looked to end the match on the par-3 16th. She would drain a long-range birdie putt, but May wasn’t going down that easily. She hit her tee shot to within a foot on the par 3 to halve the hole. On the very next hole, a clutch birdie from the Christchurch, New Zealand native extended the match to the 18th hole. But Linder never waivered. A birdie on the final hole gave her a 2 up win to punch her ticket to the finals.

On the other side of the bracket was Lynn Lim. Her eyes’ were set on finishing one spot better than she did in the 2022 Tennessee Women’s Match Play Championship, where she finished runner-up to Clarksville’s McKinley Cunningham. She cruised through the pool play portion, winning her matches 5 & 3, 4 & 2 and 5 & 4, respectively. 

Her quarterfinal match-up was against Middle Tennessee State sophomore Abbie Lee. Through eleven holes, Lim led 5 up before Lee won back-to-back holes. Lim won the next hole, halved the hole after, earning her another win before the 17th hole. It set up a Gallatin vs. Gallatin semifinal against Kynadie Adams. 

The two have each won the Tennessee Girls’ Junior Player of the Year, Adams in 2019 and Lim the most recent winner. The match was tight from the jump with both players birding the par-5 first. Lim birdied the very next hole to go 1 up, and while she never let Adams lead after that hole, it was close to the bitter end. Lim finally punched her ticket to the finals for the second straight year with a win on 16, another match ending before the 17th hole.

It set up an exceptional final match between two former Tennessee Girls’ Junior Players of the Year. But the final match had to be put on hold for over an hour as storms moved through the area in the afternoon, much like they did the day before.

When it finally started, the title match was everything you could ever want. Linder and Lim traded blows throughout, a 2 up lead never lasting more than one hole. Down one after 16 holes, Linder was running out of time. But she took advantage of Lim putting her approach shot in the front bunker on 17 to win the hole and tie the match headed to the 18th. 

A pair of pars guaranteed extra holes of match play as the group made their way to the tricky par-5 14th hole. Linder found herself under trees she had to punch out of while Lim was perfectly situated in the fairway with a chance to reach the green in two. Lim’s second shot went long right as Linder hit her third short of the flag, leaving a lengthy putt for birdie. To put the pressure on, Lim knocked her chip within five feet of the hole and a championship. After Linder came close but ultimately settled for par, the Vanderbilt rising sophomore couldn’t believe it when her birdie putt lipped out to extend the match.

The 20th hole gave Lim another good luck at a birdie win, but the course was not cooperating. Another birdie putt burned the edge as Lim stared in disbelief. For Linder, however, a window of opportunity.

They halved the 21st hole on the par-3 16th, moving to the 17th hole and 22nd hole of the match. A hole where Linder had just won to get the match to extra holes. With about six feet to the hole after her third shot, Linder set up to the putt. She gasped as the ball rolled around the edge of the cup… and then fell in to seal her victory.

For full results, click here.