MANATEE -- Jennifer Neville's march toward the women's state amateur title ended Tuesday.
The former Manatee High and St. John's University standout fell in the semifinals to Orlando's Emily Rymer.
But despite the 2-and-1 setback to Rymer, Neville was pleased with her performance this week at Sara Bay Country Club in the 85th Florida State Golf Association Women's Amateur Championship.
"I am really happy I made it as far as I did," Neville said. "(Tuesday) morning, I was kind of hanging by a thread, too. And then (Tuesday's) afternoon match, my putting just kind of wasn't where it needed to be, and she was playing really good. Even if there was room for me to move up, she was kind of making her long putts so she wasn't faltering too much. ... It's been a long four or five days. So I'm happy to be done and know what I need to work on now."
Rymer, who plays at Florida Southern in Lakeland, faces Orlando's Charlotte Daughan, who bested Fernandina Beach's Katie Mitchell 1-up in Tuesday's other semifinal, in the final, slated an 8:30 a.m. start Wednesday.
It's a grudge match. Daughan attended Rollins College, Florida Southern's rival, during her collegiate career. Daughan drilled a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to earn the final berth.
"I actually saw the line there and just trusted it," Daughan said. "It just broke about 2 feet left. I saw a little spot up there and just went for it."
Daughan played profes
sionally for three years before being reinstated as an amateur 1½ years ago.
Neither Daughan or Rymer have played in the tournament before, so they'll both be seeking their first state amateur championship.
The fans who turned out to see the area's last remaining player in the field saw two tight semifinal matches Tuesday afternoon. First, Neville found herself in prime position to bring her match with Rymer to all-square heading into the 18th hole.
That was made possible when Rymer misfired on a short putt on the 16th hole to cut her 2-up lead in half.
The par-5 17th awaited both players and with Rymer already hitting a layup shot, Neville had a decision to make -- go for the green in two or lay up short.
With the wind in her face on the 239-yard shot, she went with the latter option.
"Realistically, I don't think it would have been smart for me to go for it because I could have ended up in the bunker and I could always lay up," Neville said. "Once I saw she laid up, I decided to go for trying to make par. And if I get birdie, it happens. I was just hoping to get to 18."
The move backfired as Neville missed the green, chipped to within 6 feet then watched Rymer can about a 10-foot par putt that put all the pressure squarely on Neville's shoulders.
A miss would end the match, while a conversion would halve the hole and extend the match to the par-5 18th.
Neville missed, and Rymer, who is new to match play, earned the semifinal victory.
"Once I saw her make it, it put extra pressure on me," Neville said. "I just didn't trust the line that I had. And I didn't trust the speed."
The match was the longest Rymer has played this week. She secured two 4-and-3 victories and a 5-and-4 triumph in the previous three rounds. The latter came Tuesday morning in the quarterfinals against Bradenton's Marika Liu.
"I didn't know what to expect when it was match play for the first time," Rymer said. "And so when I made it to the (quarterfinals), I was like, 'All right. That's fun.' Now I want to make it to the (final). Kept pushing my goals farther and farther."