Katie James with the Judy Oliver Trophy awarded to the WPGA Women's Amateur Champion

James wins 12th WPGA Isaly's Women's Amateur Championship
By Mike Dudurich • August 14, 2019

Mike is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.

Katie James would consider herself an unlikely winner of the West Penn Golf Association’s 12th Women’s Amateur for a variety of reasons.

And not necessarily because she didn’t believe she was capable of winning.

No, the uncertainly came from another source. How about the fact that James had suffered a torn meniscus in October, had knee surgery in January and the Women’s Amateur was her first competition since all of that.

“It’s pretty amazing, actually,” she said after her round of even-par 73, which was good for a one-stroke victory over Madison McDanel. “I had no idea where I stood pretty much all day. I did see a leaderboard at the turn and said, ‘Ok, we’re in it.’ I thought maybe it wasn’t going to be enough when I finished, but I was confident it would get me into a playoff.”

James’ victory came at Fox Chapel Golf Club, which is her home club.

“That was definitely a big help,” she admitted. “Having the seen the golf course, you know when to press and when not to. I was comfortable, have seen every shot before. My caddie, Jordan Klodowski, has been with me in a lot of tournaments and was a big help.”

James and McDanel had outstanding high school careers with James winning an individual title at Shadyside Academy and McDanel, who played at Central Valley, finishing in the top five each year at states and was able to celebrate with her teammates after winning three of four PIAA team titles.’

Like James, McDanel had no idea where she stood in the tournament, but she was playing with long-time amateur star Katie Miller and figured if she stay with her she’d be in it. Miller finished the day at 76.

While James went from Fox Chapel to Philadelphia to compete in the state women’s amateur, McDanel headed south to Chattanooga where she’ll begin here senior year at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

“College has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “I’m growing into a decent player and I’ll be earning a great degree in marketing.”

As for her performance at Fox Chapel, she was pleased.

“I hadn’t played Fox Chapel much,” she said. “I just felt so lucky to play there, the course was in the best shape I’ve seen anywhere in a while. I thought my short game and putting was pretty good. I felt like under par would win.”

James will be making her way to Southern Methodist University for her sophomore season.

“It’s been super fun there, I played in four events in the fall and even though it’s been a big adjustment for me, it’s been great. I feel like it’s where I need to be,” James, who is a finance major, said.”

An interesting aspect of the day at Fox Chapel was that both James and McDanel bogeyed the 18th hole. Had McDanel not done so, she would have forced a playoff and James could have had a stroke better cushion had she not.

Despite the third-place finish, Miller has been playing well, qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship which will be played Sept. 14-19 at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz.

She won the 95th Women’s Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania Championship by posting rounds of 72-69-69 for a six-under score of 210. The matching 69s established a course record at Edgewood Country Club.

About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.