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FALMOUTH, Maine – Less than a month after capturing her record fourth straight Edith Noblit Baker Trophy title, Norton’s Shannon Johnson is in a strong position to collect her second victory of the 2018 season.
Johnson, a Thorny Lea Golf Club member who reached the finals of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, posted an even par 72 during the first round of the 2018 New England Women’s Golf Association Championship, which is being held at The Woodlands Golf Club in Falmouth, Maine. Johnson currently holds a one-stroke lead over Hannah Ghelfi of Pocasset Golf Club and has a four-stroke advantage over New Hampshire’s Chelsea Sedlar.
Established in 1956, the NEWGA Championship is a 54-hole event that is contested annually in one of the six New England states with hosting duties rotating among the states every six years. This year’s competition features a cut after the first two rounds to the low 70 players and ties.
On this day, Johnson made the turn at even par 36 before suffering a double bogey on the 321-yard, par 4 10th hole.
“The course is playing very short and you have to be strategic off the tee with your placement in the fairway,” said Johnson of the 5,676-yard layout in Falmouth. “I was a little unsure as to what I should hit on 10 and that indecision led to a bad swing and three putt.”
Johnson would respond immediately by making birdie on three of her next five holes including back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th holes. She completed her round by making three straight pars to finish at even par.
“I was able to take advantage of the short par 5 and got on in two for a two putt birdie,” said Johnson of the 445-yard, par 5 11th hole. “Then on 12 I was able to hit a good gap wedge to about 10 feet below the hole and made the putt. One more three putt on 13, and then I was able to hit a good wedge in on 15 to about four feet and made the putt.”
Nipping at Johnson’s heels all day long was Ghelfi, who finished second behind Johnson at the Edith Noblit Baker Trophy. The 21-year-old Ghelfi who won the 2017 Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship, made two two bogies on the front nine but she played the back nine at 1-under par to draw within one of Johnson. Ghelfi finished second at this event one year ago.
The Bay State was well represented on the leaderboard following day one as nine of the top 13 scorers on Monday hailed from Massachusetts. Placing T4 with scores of 6-over par 76 were Alison Eleey (South Shore CC) and Sophie Dipetrillo (Blue Hill CC).
Just last week, Dipetrillo was one of three to advance to the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at a qualifier held at Shaker Hills Country Club.
Other Bay State competitors who are in the top 15 heading into the second 18 holes on Tuesday included Megan Buck (Thorny Lea GC), Joanne Catlin (Oak Hill CC), Sue Curtin (Boston GC), Pam Kuong (Charles River CC), and Nicki Demakis (Reservation GC).
For more information, visit the NEWGA web site at newenglandwga.org.