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MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Massachusetts – Allison Paik, an 18-year-old Sharon resident representing Ledgemont Country Club, was unstoppable throughout match play as she won the 117th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship by defeating Anne Walsh, 18, of The Country Club, 7&6 in the Championship match Friday at Essex County Club.
With 92 competitors to begin the week, this was the largest field in the history of the signature Women’s Championship since Mass Golf took over operations of it in 2018. Paik’s victory margin was the largest margin of victory since 1949 when Ruth Woodward won the Championship Match, 9&8, against Nancy Black.
This is the first Women’s Amateur Championship win for Paik, who last played in the Championship Proper in 2016 when she made the Semifinals.
Paik and Walsh, 18, are both commits to Columbia University and have plans to play for the women’s golf team.
“Going into today we were hoping for an all-Columbia final, and we got it,” Paik said. “I’ve grown up playing with Anne, starting with U.S. Kids. We were so little growing up playing so many tournaments with her, playing against her. But we’re really good friends, and I’m really happy to be going to Columbia with her.”
Jesse Menachem, Mass Golf Executive Director/CEO, commended both players afterward, praising both players as “good ambassadors for Youth Golf in Massachusetts.”
Allison Paik (Ledgemont CC) never had to go the distance against any of her opponents in four rounds of match play at the 117th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur. And when facing future Columbia University teammate Anne Walsh in the Championship Match on Friday at Essex County Club, she saved her best performance for last.
Paik, 18, of Sharon, won five holes with five birdies to take a 5-up lead on the front nine and won holes 10 and 12 to capture the Championship Proper for the first time. The match lasted approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Paik didn’t always have the easiest birdie chances in the Championship Match, but each one of her birdies putts made started from at least 10 feet away from the pin. On the par-3 4th, she hit it 35 feet in front of the pin but got a good read and sank it to take a 3-up lead. On holes 7 and 9, both birdie putts were outside 20 feet.
“I think getting off to a fast start is really important,” said Paik, who made 19 birdies and 1 eagle throughout the week. “I would say the greens especially were a good fit for me. They weren’t too quick so I could really attack all my putts, and I’m not afraid to hit it like a couple too far that way I can try to make as many birdies as possible.”
This is the first Women’s Amateur Championship win for Paik, who played in the event for the second time. Back in 2016, she made the Semifinals. This year, she played a combined 56 holes in match play and won 25 of them.
Walsh, of Jamaica Plain, finished runner-up for the second consecutive year. Last year, she lost to University of Maryland sophomore Angela Garvin in the Championship Match, 4&3. This year, she won Mass Golf’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament and finished runner-up at the Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship.
Coming off a grueling 21-hole match against Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club) in the Semifinals, Walsh wasn’t able to muster together enough good shots to keep with Paik.
“I didn’t have my best stuff this afternoon,” Walsh said. “Allison played great. I think I knew going into it that it was going to be a match where I needed birdies to win the holes because pars weren’t really going to cut it. And she was putting lights out. I wasn’t really setting myself up for birdies.”
In a way, Paik surprised herself at how well she played the front nine.
“I wasn’t expecting to be 5-up through nine,” Paik said. “But I know anything can happen like it could have been the other way around. I just kept playing my game. I kept trying to hit fairways and greens and make birdie as many times as possible.”
Paik made quick work on the final three holes, keeping the ball out of trouble, while Walsh struggled to hit the fairway.
Paik won the 10th with a par and they halved the 11th. Walsh finally got one down the middle on the 12th but then overshot the green. Paik was able to chip on in three, and after Walsh missed a long par putt, Paik made a 10-footer to end it.
VICTORY! Allison Paik wins the 117th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship with a stellar performance in the final match! She birdied 5 times on the front night and was lights-out with her putter.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) August 14, 2020
The Championship Match coincided with some less celebratory news that Columbia University had canceled in-person classes in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now that I’m finding out I’m going to be home in the fall, I’m hoping to compete,” Walsh said. “I think that The Baker Women’s Stroke Play Championship), I think that sounds like a great one. That’ll be a nice close to the year.”
Mass Golf conducted a broadcast of the Final Match of the Championship Flight on Facebook Live. To re-watch it, CLICK HERE.
Even with limited experience with match play, Alexandra Pool (Pine Brook Country Club) played like a veteran over the past four days. The 15-year-old Bostonian went the distance to win the President’s Cup, the bracket for players who finished 17-32 in stroke-play qualifying, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It was a lot more golf then I’ve played and a lot of good competition,” Pool said. “Staying focused was really important, and it was really fun.”
After winning in 19 holes in the Semifinals, Pool took on Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club), the 2019 Mass Golf Anne Marie Tobin Women’s Player of the Year, who won the Championship Proper in 2008 and 2010. Pool never trailed, and though Kuong tied it with pars on the 7th and 10th holes, Pool birdied the 12th, won the 13th with a par, and closed it out with par on the 17th hole.
“It was tough,” Pool said of playing Kuong. “I knew bogeys weren’t gonna cut it and pars and birdies needed to be made. I needed to stay focused on committing to shots.”
Kuong was especially complimentary of all young players in the President’s Cup, which included nine teenagers, five of whom were 17 and under. Out of 32 match play competitors, 18 were teenagers.
“The junior golfers are unbelievable,” Kuong said. They hit the ball a country mile.
“I just think Mass Golf, the next 5-10 years are going to be so strong, and then more kids are going to be coming in. It’s really good. You got to pass the torch and be good stewards of the game.”
7-Anne Walsh def. 3-Rebecca Skoler, 21 holes
The highly-anticipated semifinal rematch between Anne Walsh (The Country Club) and Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook CC) didn’t disappoint. Walsh beat Skoler, 1-up, in last year in the semifinals, and this year’s match went the distance and more.
Despite flubbing her bunker shot on the third playoff hole, the par-5 third, Anne Walsh was able to save par by getting up-and-down. Skoler, however, missed her birdie putt to win, and then her par putt rolled around and lipped out to end it.
Both players have been battling back and forth all summer, as Walsh and Skoler finished 1-2 at both the Ouimet Memorial Tournament and Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship. (Walsh won Ouimet, Skoler won Girls’ Junior).
In this year’s Semifinals, neither player could pull away from the other as each won five holes apiece through 18 and never led by more than 1-up.
Skoler continuously found fairways and set up solid approach shots, but time after time, Walsh found a way to keep the match alive with clutch putting. After sinking a 12-footer on the 20th hole (2nd hole), the two smiled at each other, impressing themselves at how competitive the match had been.
Skoler will now head to the University of Virginia as an incoming freshman.
8-Allison Paik def. 13-Mary Mulcahy, 4&3
Allison Paik (Ledgemont CC) set the tone early by making birdie on the first two holes and took advantage of some errors by Mary Mulcahy (Hatherly CC) to reach the Championship Match for the first time.
Paik also made birdie on the fifth hole, and after a tie on the 10th, Mulcahy made five consecutive bogeys, allowing Paik to close out the match in 15 holes. Paik avoided having to play a full 18 holes for the first three matches but then had a 2 and a half hour wait before teeing off in the Championship match against fellow Columbia incoming freshman Anne Walsh.
Mulcahy made her first appearance in the Mass Women’s Amateur Semifinals since 2013. That year, she won her Semifinal before falling to Tara Joy Connelly in the Championship Match.
PRESIDENT’S CUP SEMIFINALS
5-Alexandra Pool def. 8-Victoria Veator, 19 holes
In a matchup of two standout 15-year-old junior golfers, Alexandra Pool (Pine Brook CC) won the first playoff hole to advance to the President’s Cup Championship Match for the first time.
There were several swings in this match as only four holes were halved. Victoria Veator (MIAA) won holes 10-12 to take a 2-up lead, but Pool tied it by winning the next two and took the lead on the 16th before Veator tied it with a par on the 17th.
Ribbons for Mia: Veator and her family have close ties to PGA TOUR pro Camilo Villegas. To learn more about how the close, personal bond between the Veator and Villegas families have together, CLICK HERE
14-Pamela Kuong def. 7-Christine Mandile, 1-up
Despite winning three of the first four holes, Pam Kuong (Charles River CC) went the distance to win her Semifinal match. Kuong, the 2008 and 2010 Women’s Amateur Champion, emerged victorious by winning the 18th hole with a birdie.
Christine Mandile (Winchester CC), 17, got within 2 of Kuong by winning the 7th and 9th holes and finally pulled even with a par on the 17th hole.
Another signature Mass Golf event is coming to Essex in the next few years. In 2023, Essex County Club will host the Massachusetts Amateur Championship for the eighth time in its history.
Essex hosted the second annual Massachusetts Amateur Championship back in 1904 and last hosted it in 2005.
“Anytime that a club gets the best players in the state, it’s an opportunity, and it’s been awesome to do it this year with the Women’s Amateur,” said Jack Davis, the Head Golf Professional at Essex County Club. “There’s real pride in having these events as part of the history of this club.”
Andrew Carnegie, II, whose uncle was the famed United States Steeler magnate, “robber baron” and an avid golfer, won the 1904 Amateur contested at Essex, and he was one of 12 Essex members in the field. Carnegie won the 36-hole Championship Match, 8 and 7, over Thomas G. Stevenson.
Mass Golf Hall of Famers Frederick J. Wright (1928, 1935) and Frank Vana, Jr. (2005) have won the Mass Amateur when it was contested at Essex.
The 2023 Massachusetts Amateur will also coincide with the 130th anniversary of Essex’s founding.
“Mass Golf runs a very top-flight event,” Davis said. “Seeing it this week with the Women’s Amateur makes myself and our whole team here even more excited for the bigger events coming. Essex County Club is very happy to align themselves with Mass Golf. I think it’s an important organization to be part of. And we want you guys to be a part of our history as well.”
The 74th Massachusetts Women’s Senior Amateur Championship will take place this Monday, August 17, at South Shore Country Club in Hingham. The single-day event is an 18-hole Women’s Championship with two divisions: Division 1 – handicap indexes 18.0 or less & Division 2 – handicap indexes 18.1-36.0.
Entries are open to amateur golfers who have reached their 50th birthday by August 17, 2020, and who have an active Mass Golf/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate Mass Golf member course/club not exceeding 36.0 (as determined by the July 30 Handicap Revision), or who have completed their handicap certification.
Pam Kuong (Charles River Country Club) is the defending champion.
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Per the State’s (EEA) guidelines surrounding outdoor competitors and tournaments, NO SPECTATORS WILL BE PERMITTED at any point of the championship (stroke or match play). This includes family members, relatives, members of the same household, general spectators, etc.
To help individuals follow along, Click Here to view the Match Play brackets and starting times.