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FRONT-RUNNER
iverdale golf superstar Mariah Stackhouse takes Georgia Women's Amateur title in three-hole playoff for wire-to-wire win

By Rory Sharrock

rsharrock@news-daily.com

The list of achievements just continues to grow for Mariah Stackhouse, 14, of Riverdale.

With a bedroom already full of trophies and headline clippings, the Clayton County teen must now find space for one more piece of hardware after winning a three-hole playoff for a wire-to-wire victory at the 79th annual Georgia Women's Golf Association Amateur Championship, which was held at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club in Albany.

"It was a good experience for me," said Stackhouse. "It's the biggest tournament for women in Georgia. I definitely knew if I could win that one, it would be pretty big. It was a tough field there with Georgia's top amateur golfers. I just went in and gave it my best."

Stackhouse fought off a challenging group of players of whom were old enough to be her mother and grandmother, including former Georgia Women's Player of the Year Laura Coble of Augusta. Coble has also won five GWGA Amateur Championships.

"I don't think it really mattered. If you're a good golfer, you're a good golfer. That showed me how well I'm doing in golf. I'm 14-years-old and it shows how far ahead I am. I just need to keep it up and improving," she said.

During the Championship, Stackhouse played steady and maintained her position atop the leader's board.

However, in the final round, Coble managed a strong rally for a tie, which put her in contention for a record-tying sixth Georgia Women's Amateur crown.

When the dust settled after the 18th hole, both players were headed for a playoff to determine the best female amateur in the state.

As the pressure of a three-hole playoff rose, the championship nerves within Stackhouse's veins were as calm as summer evening breeze.

The Riverdale golfing legend pared each of her playoff holes while Coble triple boogied the opening hole to give the Clayton County star a huge cushion, and ultimately the win.

With so much success on the greens at such a young age, the possibility of her having a career on the LPGA Tour grows with every trophy-winning camera photo shoot.

While it's no secret about her dreams of playing as a pro, Stackhouse is focused on obtaining a college degree and a career in the medical field.

"That's (LPGA) definitely something I'm looking at, but I'm going to stay in school a little bit longer. I want to be surgeon. I love to play golf and if I get the opportunity, that's something I'd try. But I'm definitely going to college," she said.

With her recent win in the Georgia Women's Amateur Championship, Stackhouse closes out her individual season on a high note with the Eleanor M. Keeler Memorial Trophy.

But her competitive schedule for 2008 isn't complete as she's set to compete in group events, including the 28th annual Georgia-Florida Women's Team Matches on the road at the scenic La Gorce Country Club. This match is slated for Aug. 28 and 29 in Miami.