Courtney Myhrum and Carol Semple Thompson have played more rounds of golf together than either can remember, but both know exactly when their next round will be.
Monday they played together and qualified for the final of the Women's Golf Association of Western Pennsylvania championship at Oakmont Country Club. After three rounds of match play against other opponents this week, the two old friends are the last ones standing, scheduled to tee off for the title at 8:40 a.m. today at Oakmont.
Myhrum needed all 18 holes to beat Kristen Obush on Thursday, winning 2-up, while Thompson notched a 4-and-3 victory over Danielle Proctor, the match ending after 15 holes. From the outset, it did not appear Myhrum's match would last 18 holes. She won the first three holes, but then only secured one more victory in the next 13.
"I can't say I had a hot start. [Obush] had a very slow start," Myhrum said. "She made it easy for me through three holes, and then she started playing the way she normally plays, which is long and straight. I knew that I couldn't rest on that lead."
Obush tied the match, even briefly taking the lead by a hole, before Myhrum won the final two holes to earn her spot in the championship match.
"She hit it short on her second shot, but on the third shot she laid it over a little long over the green," Myhrum said of her 18th-hole victory.
"After she laid in her third shot, I knew I only needed a two-putt to win, and that's what I did."
Myhrum had not needed all 18 holes in either of her previous two matches. In Monday's qualifying stroke play, Myhrum shot a 79, including a quadruple-bogey on the sixth hole. She improved on that by three strokes Thursday.
"I wasn't really expecting to be that consistent. Monday was a good day for me," Myhrum said. "I'm trending in the right direction."
She will need to continue trending in the right direction to top Thompson, the 14-time winner of the WGAWP championship. In her three matches, Thompson has yet to play past the 16th hole, winning by a total of 15 holes.
Yet Thompson was unsatisfied with her play this week.
"I haven't been hitting the ball as solidly as I would like," she said. "Hopefully, [today] will be better. I've just been out-hitting the ball, trying to figure out some swing thoughts."
Myhrum and Thompson enter today's 18 holes with similar mindsets: It will be fun to play the round with a familiar friend, and the best strategy is to play a solid game, forcing the other to make difficult shots.
"It'll be fun to play with her," Thompson said. "She's a great friend of mine, and I always look forward to playing with her, whether it is with her or against her.
"I have to play my own game, and try to get pars on every hole."
The only difference in Myhrum's description of her plan is she references what Thompson will need to make, rather than what she will need to do.
"I don't think my strategy will change," Myhrum said. "I'll play the course. I hope she'll have to make birdie to take a hole from me. We qualified together on Monday, and I think I even told her, that was probably the best I have ever played when I played with her. I don't tend to play well when I play with Carol."
Douglas Farmer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @D_Farmer.