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MIDDLETON, Massachusetts – On June 14, history was made at Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton when Mass Golf held its first U.S. Senior Women’s Open qualifier. The inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship will be contested in Wheaton, Illinois at Chicago Golf Club on July 12-15.
Three years ago in 2015, the USGA announced that it would be adding a new championship to its schedule – the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
“We have studied and discussed the need for this championship for many years and now we can celebrate its introduction,” said then USGA President Thomas J. O’Toole, Jr. in the official USGA release in 2015. “The USGA has been leading and supporting women’s golf since 1895 and it has never been stronger. We hope that current and younger players will be inspired to see national championship competition long into their playing careers.”
The veterans of the women’s game came together in Middleton on this day to compete for three qualifying spots and three alternate spots.
Catherine Panton-Lewis of Scotland led the way with a score of 7-over par 80 to capture medalist honors.
“It was tough since I thought it was too late for me at my age,” said Panton-Lewis. “It’s my birthday today. I’m 63 today. I thought I was a little bit old, but I have been playing well and competing quite well and doing lots of exercises and keeping strong and everything. It’s fantastic that I am playing in the inaugural one. It’s wonderful.”
Playing in the first ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open simply adds to Panton-Lewis’s already impressive playing resume.
“I won 14 tournaments on the Ladies European Tour,” said Panton-Lewis. “One of them was the Scottish Open, which was great for me since it was my home open. I also played on the LPGA, as well as the Boston Five here over 30 years ago.”
Finishing second just two strokes back of Panton-Lewis was Helene Chartrand of Pincourt, Canada. In addition to posting the second low score of the day – a 9-over par 82 – Chartrand was also recognized as the event’s low amateur.
Following the regulation 18 holes, three competitors – Laura Shanahan Rowe (Hampton, NH), Susan Bond (Ponte Vedra, FL) and Julie Piers (Montreal,CAN) – had to return to the 1st tee to take part in a playoff for the final qualifying spot as well as first and second alternates.
After all three players matched each other shot for shot through the first two holes, Shanahan Rowe sent her approach on the 322-yard, par 4 3rd hole onto the green. With her two opponents off the green with their second shots, Shanahan Rowe executed a two-putt par to secure the final qualifying spot.
The alternate positions were determined on the very next hole. Bond, who has strong roots in Massachusetts, landed her approach shot on the 337-yard, par 4 4th hole to four feet to set up a birdie that secured her as first alternate. A PGA Member since 1991, Bond has been a fixture in competitive golf circles for many years most notably capturing the 1993 Massachusetts Women’s Open and the 2004 New England Women’s Open
Julie Piers, who traveled to Middleton from Montreal, Canada, was named second alternate, while Karen Nicoletti of Fort Myers, Florida secured the third alternate spot.
Entries are open to professional golfers, amateur golfers, and applicants for reinstatement who have reached their 50th birthday by July 12th, 2018. Amateurs and applicants for reinstatement must have an up-to-date Handicap Index based on ratings for women not exceeding 7.4 under the USGA Handicap System.
Complete U.S. Senior Women’s Open sectional qualifying results can be found by clicking here.
Mass Golf will be providing coverage for its competitors playing in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open from July 12-15. Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest information.
To join the conversation, use the hashtag #MassGolf and #USSeniorWomensOpen.