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HAVERHILL, Massachusetts – For the second time in four years, the team of Phil Smith (Long Meadow GC) and Molly Smith (Long Meadow GC) captured the forward division title at the Massachusetts Father & Daughter Championship.
The duo, which last won the title in 2014, put on an absolutely dominating show on Monday at Renaissance Golf Club as they posted a winning score of 2-under par 70, which was 11 shots better than the second-place teams of Scott Abramson (The Ridge Club) & Emma Abramson (The Ridge Club) and Rick Willett (Charles River CC) & Kaitlyn Willett (Charles River CC).
“If you put her up on the forward tees it gives us a lot of short shots,” said Phil. “She drove the ball great.”
Between Molly’s outstanding ball striking and Phil’s exceptional putting, the day was theirs for the taking despite a rocky start which saw them begin their round with a bogey on the 114-yard, par 3 2nd hole and then a double bogey on the 427-yard, par 5 3rd hole.
“The key was when we birdied four where Molly hit it in to about 10 feet and I made it,” said Phil. “Molly made a seven footer for par on five, and that really kept the momentum going. That is really the toughest stretch. If you get to nine here it’s not that bad. The first eight holes here I find are dangerous.”
The Smith team made a second birdie on the front nine – on the 323-yard, par 4 8th hole – to help them make the turn at 1-over par 37.
“She hit it into 10 feet on eight and that was a great shot,” said Phil, an eight-time Men’s Lowell City champion and the 2007 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Champion. “I actually hit the putt and didn’t think that I made it. It was one that hit something and went in, and that kind of changed everything.”
With adrenal and momentum at an all-time round high after making the turn, the family dynamics hit a rough patch which will no doubt become Smith family lore in no time.
“We both hit good drives and were both in the fairway,” said Molly who started the story.
Her father took it from there.
“I had 89 yards and she had 83 and she calls me Phil and says, “Phil I want to hit it,” and I am like are you kidding me,” said Phil. “She is a very good golfer too, but this is the third time playing with her and it’s always if I have a shot to hit we always go with me. She demanded to hit it, and then she lays the sod over it and misses the green.”
Molly helped her father quickly forget about that moment by draining the seven-foot par putt that he set up with his third shot.
“I was really confident with that shot,” said Molly, who at the age of 13 finished fourth at the 2018 Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship. “
Molly nearly drove the green on the 11th hole and then she and Phil would go on to card birdie on the 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th holes to cap off what was the only under-par round posted on the day across both divisions.
It was an important win for both but especially Molly who – as one of three Smith daughters – doesn’t get the call to play in the Massachusetts Father & Daughter Championship every year.
“I don’t get a shot at it every year so this is important,” said Molly. “Maddie will probably come in before I get to play again, so it could be three years before I get to play again.”
To Molly’s point, Phil is only able to play with one daughter every year. After he and Molly won their first title in 2014, he captured the forward division title with Morgan (age 14) the following year. In 2016, Phil and Molly lost in a playoff at The Haven and then Phil and Morgan claimed their second title in 2017.
The youngest Smith, Maddie, turned 10 years old in April and earlier this month captured the Mite Division at the Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship. She will no doubt be entering the rotation in the coming years.
The significance of the opportunity for Molly was certainly not lost on Phil.
“We were right on the fence to jump up to the older division,” said Phil about the decision to compete in the Forward Division, which played at 5,179 yards instead of the Championship Division, which was set at 6,141 yards. “Morgan had two and Molly and I lost at The Haven so she wanted to have two before she moved up and she was like, ‘Dad, I am only 13.’, so we played back. We would have liked to have seen what we could have done at the other division, but this was great.”
Following the bogey-double bogey stretch to start the round, the Smith team played 5-under par golf through their final 15 holes. It was a round that memorable for not just the golf but the time spent together.
“Other than 10 it was a lot of fun,” said Phil with a laugh. “When I play I don’t get nervous, but I definitely get nervous for this. I don’t want to play bad. We are always on a different golf course and now you know that you might not play with them for another three years.”