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NEWTON, Massachusetts – For the first time in Mass Golf history, qualifying rounds for both the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship and the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship were held on the same day at the same club.
Charles River Country Club, which just last year served as host to the 2017 Massachusetts Amateur Championship, welcomed some of the region’s top mid-amateur talent – male and female – for the 18-hole sectional qualifiers.
By day’s end a total of nine competitors (five male and four female) earned a spot in the USGA Championships Proper on September 22-27. The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will be contested at Charlotte Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, while the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship is set for Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.
The historic day was capped off by the awarding of medalist honors to Sue Curtin (Westwood, MA), who will be making her fifth career appearance at a USGA Championship Proper after posting a 1-over par 74. Curtin, along with a trio of men’s medalists – Joseph Alvarez (North Berwick, ME), Brian Bassett (Charlottesville, VA) and Kevin Quinn (Needham, MA) – who finished at even par 70 earlier in the day, were all recognized for their top performances.
“It means a lot,” said Curtin, who turned 48 earlier this year. “I am finally getting to the point where I can play golf again. I feel so fortunate to be able to play this game.”
Following her graduation from the College of the Holy Cross, Curtin continued her close ties to the game despite pursuing a professional career and having two kids Jack (16) and James (13).
She first qualified for the 2000 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and then has – for the past three years – advanced to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The motivation for her latest individual national championship berth came not from a technical session or inspirational video. Rather it came from her recent round with James at the 2018 Massachusetts Mother & Son Championship.
On that August 16th day at LeBaron Hills Country Club, the duo captured their sixth consecutive 9-hole division title.
“After playing in the Mother & Son I had a different attitude,” said Curtin, who finished three strokes ahead of Kelli Pry (Coatesville, PA) and Megan Buck (Norton, MA). “It reminded me about having more fun verses putting too much pressure on myself. I think that it helped me today, and I had a different attitude today.”
Curtin took that relaxed yet winning attitude into today’s round. After giving herself two good birdie opportunities through the first two holes, she converted on her 3rd hole of the day by hitting her wedge to 12 feet and making the downhill putt. She would go on to register a bogey two holes later, but she made the turn at 1-over par 37 and held at one-stroke lead over Pry at the time.
“I kept giving myself chances,” said Curtin. “I made a bad decision on five and ended up making bogey, but I didn’t let it get to me. I kept to my game plan of shot by shot and never added up my score. I just tried to stay present and that seemed to work for me today.”
Curtin, who holds membership at both Boston Golf Club and Charles River Country Club, drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the 449-yard, par 5 10th hole. She would make par on seven of her final eight holes. A bogey on the 166-yard, par 4 13th hole was her only miscue on the back nine.
“I just felt like with the conditions you had to stay patient which I am usually not great at,” said Curtin, who said that the wind was swirling all day long which no doubt led to no competitors – male or female – being able to post an under-par round. “Going back to the Mother & Son was a great reminder. This is supposed to be fun, and you are not supposed to beat yourself up.”
With Curtin unaware that Pry had fallen back after a bogey on the 13th hole and then a double bogey on the 16th hole, Curtin arrived at the 18th hole looking to close out what had been a solid round.
On that final hole and after driving the ball well all day, Curtin suffered her worst tee shot of the day but managed to somehow make par.
“I made an unbelievable up and down on 18 to get medalist as it turns out,” said Curtin. “I was hitting it great all day down the middle. My drive on 18 was all tired legs. I hit it short left and had to punch out with a 7 iron to the middle of fairway. From 45 yards out I was able to get up and down and made a four footer to save par. I was proud of myself for sticking with it and not giving up.”
While Curtin may not have needed that putt to secure top honors, she wanted that moment to underscore the journey that she has been on since her graduation from the College of the Holy Cross in 1993 where she still serves on the Board of Trustees.
“I was going to make a great day out of today instead of trying too hard and that had a lot to do with it,” said Curtin.
Curtin was able to celebrate her berth into the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship along with Pry and Buck as well as Tracy Welch (Winchester, MA) and Jen Holland (Guilford, CT).
On the men’s side, medalists Alvarez, Basset and Quinn will be joined at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship with the fourth qualifier of the day – Jordan Burke (Needham, MA).