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HYDE PARK, Massachusetts – The first day of match play at the 115th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship was completed on Wednesday at George Wright Golf Course. A total of 30 matches featuring 60 competitors were contested with the winners – in both the Championship Flight and President’s Cup Flight – now earning the right to continue on to the round of 16 which will be held on Wednesday beginning at 8:00 a.m.
Following the conclusion of the round of 16, the quarterfinals will kick off in the afternoon to determine the semifinal matchups to be contested – weather permitting – on Thursday morning in Hyde Park. The final, 18-hole match will follow in the afternoon to determine a 2018 champion.
Following the conclusion of the final match on Thursday afternoon, the celebration will continue with a free summer concert show sponsored by the City of Boston. The featured performer will be singer-songwriter Ava Suppelsa (@AvaSuppelsa). Suppelsa’s show is part of the 2018 Summer Concert Series at George Wright GC. Click here to learn more about the 2018 Summer Concert Series.
Below are highlights from the Championship Flight matches and other news and notes from day two.
For the second time in three years, Shannon Johnson faced off against Cheryl Krueger in her round of 32 match and for a second time she was successful in advancing to the next round. As the first match off in the morning, Johnson needed 14 holes before delivering a 5 & 4 victory and a berth into the round of 16.
“We faced each other two years ago in the first round too, so I told her that we had to stop meeting like this,” said Johnson with a laugh. “You never know what can happen in match play. You could come out and not get off to a very good start. She played great and played some good holes, and I was lucky to move on.”
Johnson got off to a fast start by winning four of the first five holes with par. On the par-3 4th she hit it to four feet and then on the par-4 5th hole she landed her approach to eight feet. On both occasions, Johnson was unable to convert her birdie putts.
“That was the story of the day with every birdie putt,” said Johnson. “I hit the ball better today than I did yesterday I just didn’t really convert any birdie putts, which is fine. Everything was short. I don’t know if the greens got shorter so what but something with my speed was off. I was happy because I hit it much better today than I did yesterday. It was a good take away.”
Johnson first ran into trouble on the par-4 9th hole when her drive sailed right, but she managed to halve the hole which gave her the cushion she would need heading to the back nine.
“I hit it a little right and I lost it in the trees right,” said Johnson about the 9th hole which she made birdie on during stroke play on Monday. “I didn’t even think it was an issue of not finding it and then I got up there and realized that I had to go back. I re teed right down the middle and hit it to a foot for five. She hit short and didn’t get up and down, so we ended up pushing that which was good. That was a good momentum getter.”
Krueger was able to continue the match with a par win on the 13th hole.
“That hole has been a thorn in my side,” said Johnson. It’s a tough hole. I have hit it short both days and haven’t been able to get up and down, but she had two really got shots and a had a look at birdie and made par.”
Johnson closed out the match on the 14th hole thanks to an approach that landed 25 feet from the hole. Krueger’s approach was short and she was unable to get up and down to continue the match.
“Every time you come out here you learn something new,” said Johnson. “I am going to hit it further left on 9 tomorrow because there is much more room off the tee than you can see. There are a couple of little things that you can learn each time out.”
Johnson will next face the 16th seed, Elise Keane (Marshfield CC), who was a 5 & 3 winner over the 2018 Osgood Memorial Trophy winner Erin O’Hara (Worcester CC) by a score of 5 & 3.
In what was the closest match of the day and one of only two Championship Flight matches to reach the 18th hole, Angela Garvin won her last three holes to defeat Catie Schernecker of The Country Club by a score of 1 up.
Garvin, who trailed for all but the last hole, made par on the 16th and 17th holes and then used a bogey on the 18th hole to secure the 1-up win.
“I’ve played a lot of match play before,” said Garvin, who earlier this year made a verbal commitment to play Division I golf at the University of Maryland. “I’ve been on both ends of winning when you thought you were going to lose and losing when you thought you were going to win, so I kind of understand how quickly it can turn which definitely helps.”
Garvin began his match by losing the first two holes. From that point forward, she found herself trailing Catie Schernecker, whose father serves as the director of golf at Harvard University.
“The first couple holes I think my irons were just a little bit off,” said Garvin. “My driver was pretty much good the whole day, so that did not really get me in trouble. Also Catie was playing really well. She was making a lot of putts that she really needed to. She really did not give me a break until the very end.”
Garvin took advantage of the opportunity in the end to secure her spot in the next round. One year ago, Garvin advanced to the final match where she was defeated by Hannah Ghelfi by a score of 2 up.
“Match play is really mentally hard so having the rest of the day off is nice and then go back tomorrow,” said Garvin.
And the biggest learning from Tuesday?
“I definitely know the course a little bit better because yesterday was the first day I’ve ever played,” said Garvin. “I think this is a course that you want to play a lot, since there is a lot of tricky shots. So there’s certain holes out there where I know now what to hit off the tee and that will just help as the week goes along.”
Match play is tough enough without having to compete against a close friend in the first round. However, that is exactly what happened to Pam Kuong who took on Chelsea Curtis, a winner of this event in 2005, in the round of 32 on Tuesday morning.
“Of course when I saw my draw I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s Chelsea,” said Kuong. “She is such an incredible player and incredible person and extremely accomplished so I just felt like I had to be steady and fortunately that worked out.”
In addition to playing in numerous USGA Women’s State Team Championships together, Kuong and Curtis were teammates who competed for the Griscom Cup back in June. They were also part of the Team Massachusetts which won the Griscom Cup title in 2009.
On this day, Kuong and Curtis halved the first two holes with bogey. From that point on, however, Kuong used a string of pars to generate a lead that she would not give back as the match wore on.
“I started to settle in a little bit, and I went pars the rest of the way and usually in match play pars will win,” said Kuong of her play after the first two holes. “The greens are great, and I putted well and had some nice up and downs. I am happy to move on.”
Kuong, a winner of this event in 2008 and 2010, was able to scramble on several holes including the 6th – where her chip from off the green settled to two feet – and then again on the 11th and 12th holes.
“You definitely have to pick the correct line off the tee ball,” said Kuong, who last year advanced to the quarterfinals in this event. “If you are at all off, even five yards off, all of a sudden it can go really bad fast. I think that I’ve gotten good sight lines off my tee ball. So as long as I continue to do that and fortunately I am putting really well we will see what happens.”
No stranger to going far in match play even outside the Massachusetts border, Kuong finished as runner-up in the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. She will next face defending champion Hanah Ghelfi in the round of 16.
One of the youngest in the field took on one of the most senior competitors in the round of 32. In the end, it was 16-year-old Emily Nash who defeated Gail Regan by a score of 9 & 8.
“Today my putting was really good and it really helped me a lot,” said Nash. “I just played overall pretty consistent, I was just hitting fairways and greens. I think on the front I had two birdies and on the back I had one on hole 10.”
Nash opened her round of 32 match by winning the first three holes with pars. She then hit her 7 iron on the par-3 4th hole to 10 feet and made that birdie putt. A bogey and two pars later, Nash stuck her 9-iron approach shot on the par-4 9th hole to five feet to take a commanding lead heading into the back nine.
“This course is definitely tight, so hitting fairways is definitely kind of really important on this course,” said Nash. “Also the greens are definitely tough. I think I kind of got an eye for the greens now, so that is definitely helping me a lot. But I am glad I played a practice round Saturday because there are a few holes where it is blind so it helps to know where to put it.”
She continued her momentum by winning the 10th hole with a par. Even when she looked to be in trouble – like on the par 5 11th hole where she hit her drive left and then left herself with a long birdie putt – Nash found a way to convert. On that particular hole, Nash was able to close out the match by making that long 20-foot birdie putt.
“It was definitely important,” said Nash about advancing through the first day of match play. “Last year I played in this event at Myopia and I think in the first round I may have gotten knocked out by Katie Barrand, so definitely this round I wanted to get out to a solid start and wanted to score well. I think I was 2 under on the front, so I am glad I was able to keep that up.”
Nash will next face Skylar Frankiewicz of Stow Acres CC who was a 6 & 5 winner over Cynthia Friend of Oak Hill CC.
“The U.S. Challenge Cup has two match plays, one in the spring and one in the fall,” said Nash about her match play experience. “I played in the U.S. Girls’ Junior in California, and I didn’t make the cut to match play but I was kind of close. This is my first time since the spring where I have played really head to head match play. I think match play for me is better than stroke play, so I like being head to head.”
It took a near perfect performance for Hannah Ghelfi to continue on in hopes of capturing her second straight Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship title.
As the 10th seed following the stroke-play portion of the event, Ghelfi drew a round of 32 showdown with Meredith Scala of Kittansett Club. It took Ghelfi 17 holes to advance with a 2 & 1 victory.
“This is probably one of the closest,” said Ghelfi. “I am really tired right now.”
Ghelfi jumped out to a fast start by making birdie on two of her first four holes. On those holes – the 3rd and 4th holes at George Wright GC – she stuck her approach shots to eight feet and two feet.
“I think I had a bit of a hot start,” said Ghelfi. “Meredith was I think 2 or 3 over for the whole day. She played really well. It was a good battle, it was tough.”
After finishing second to Shannon Johnson at both the Edith Noblit Baker Trophy and the NEWGA Championship, Ghelfi has continued to see her level of play improve with each passing round. Today marked perhaps her best performance of the week as she finished with five birdies on the day, four on the front nine and one on the back nine.
“I was rolling putts well but every putt counted,” said Ghelfi. “Everything was stressful, so it was hard.”
After not having a chance to play a practice round, Ghelfi is becoming a quick study of the Donald Ross layout which she hopes will see her advance deep into match play over the next two days.
“I definitely am learning the course better,” said Ghelfi, who 4-over par 76 on Monday. “Course management was better, and I struggled with the woods but other than that I hit the ball pretty well. It was definitely better than yesterday.”
Life could not get much better for Claire Sheldon, who was one of the first competitors off the course on Tuesday following her 8 & 6 victory over Alia Godek of Agawam Hunt Club.
Sheldon, who is scheduled to be married on Saturday before she moves to Australia on Monday, made three birdies and six pars to play the George Wright GC front nine at 3-under par 33.
“Life is good, and I am just relaxed and having fun,” said Sheldon. “Good things are happening, and I am just going to try and stay out of my own way.”
Sheldon closed out the match on the 12th hole with a par to defeat Godek, who was making her first ever appearance in the Championship Flight match play. Godek was one of six competitors who finished at 14-over par 86 and had to face off in a six-for-four playoff for the final Championship Flight spots on Monday afternoon. Godek claimed the 31st seed overall.
Sheldon, who won this event in 2007 and 2012 and advanced to the semifinals one year ago, will now face Gabrielle Shieh of Nashawtuc CC in the round of 16. Shieh was a victor over two-time champion Tracy Welch of Winchester. Welch won this event in 1998 and 2006.
After being defeated in the round of 32 in last year’s Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship by Abby Hood, Jacqueline Gonzalez found a way to advance to the round of 16, after defeating Jennifer Keim of Bayberry Hills Golf Club by a score of 5 & 4.
Gonzalez commented on her round and what was needed to win holes during her match today.
“Just steady, fairway, green and two putts but nothing too crazy. But yeah, I played pretty solid,” said Gonzalez. “I had a lot of pars, but I did not make too many birdies.”
Gonzalez wasted no time in her match, as she quickly jumped out to a 1-up lead over Keim, who has been battling a sore hand since injuring it during May’s Connecticut Women’s Open.
“I won the first hole, then I was 1 down through like 4,” said Gonzalez. “Then I came back and won a couple of holes early on the back and then finished on 15.”
With a challenging course like George Wright GC, Gonzalez’s believes that the key to scoring well is simple – keep the ball in play.
“I definitely need to hit it straight,” said Gonzalez. “I found the trees a couple of times which is penalizing. Fairways and greens and being able to give myself a shot at birdies is helpful.”
Despite being up early and then being down shortly thereafter, Gonzalez knew how important it was to stay confident especially against an opponent in Keim, who is also a good friend.
“I just try to remember it is still an 18-hole match,” said Gonzalez. “So if you go down early there is still a lot of time left.”
Next up for Gonzalez is a showdown with Sue Curtin, who was victorious over Kris Henderson of Bedrock GC.
Despite fighting off signs of dehydration while playing under hot and humid conditions, Sue Curtin continued to impress with a 5 & 4 victory over Kris Henderson of Bedrock GC. Curtin, who earlier this year competed in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, finished fourth during Monday’s stroke play portion of the event after posting a 2-over par 74
“It was really good to get through today,” said Curtin. “I have been having a lot of problems with pace on the greens. During this match, I definitely was learning a little more about the downhill and uphill putts out here and trusting pace and being a little more aggressive than I had been.”
Although Curtin maintained a lead throughout the match, Henderson kept the pressure on especially during the front nine where she made two birdies.
“Kris played an awesome front 9 and really kept me honest,” said Curtin, who is a member of the Mass Golf Board of Directors. “She made me earn everything. Every time I got up on her she made me really earn it.”
A key moment in the match came on the back nine where Curtin was able to win both the 13th and 14th holes to close out the match and advance to the next round.
“It is really hot and steamy out there right now and you just to make sure you are hydrating and keeping yourself going,” said Curtin. “For me, I know I have to make sure I am eating and drinking the whole way around just to keep my stamina.”
Prior to beginning her round of 16 match against Elise Keane, Erin O’Hara of Worcester CC was awarded with the Osgood Memorial Cup which is presented to the competitor with the low net qualifying score. O’Hara, who resides in Shrewsbury, finished with a net score of 3-under par 69 to finish one stroke ahead of Kim Walecka of CC of New Bedford.
A total of 30 matches were scheduled for Tuesday which included 16 Championship Flight and 14 President’s Cup Flight matches. Earning round-of-32 byes in the President’s Cup were No. 1 seeded Rachel Bechard of Ludlow CC and the No. 2 seed Elizabeth Derwin from Norwood CC. Third-seeded Melissa Hem of Dedham C&PC also advanced by default after her opponent did not make the 12:20 p.m. starting time.
Last year’s President’s Cup champion, Elizabeth Corcoran of Oyster Harbors, was part of the last match off the tee on Tuesday. She defeated Abigail Taney of the Meadow at Peabody by a score of 6 & 5.
Although she many not have been victorious in her President’s Cup match today, Ann Dawson of Gannon GC was still smiling because she was able to celebrate her birthday today. Dawson was defeated in the round of 16 by Karolyne Shieh by a score of 5 & 3.
One competitor who normally competes in the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship but today was playing the role of caddie was Sophie DiPetrillo. The rising senior at the University of Richmond was unable to compete this week due to a scheduling conflict with the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, which she qualified for earlier this month. DiPetrillo will be making her first career appearance at that USGA Championship Proper. On this day, DiPetrillo served as caddie for her cousin, Skyler Frankiewicz who won her round of 32 match.
For those bracketologists, there were only three “upsets” recorded on Tuesday in the Championship Flight – Skyler Frankiewicz (21) def. Cynthia Friend (12); Isabel Southard (19) def. Kim Walecka (14); and Hannah Blonder (27) def. Makenzie Curtis (6).
For complete coverage of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, visit MassGolf.org or follow Mass Golf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and by using the hashtag, #MassWomensAm.