- Golfer Benefits
MANCHESTER, Connecticut – Smiles, laugher and high fives were present throughout the day at Manchester Country Club during round two of the New England Women’s Amateur Championship. Overnight rain bled into the early hours of Tuesday, making the course longer and more challenging. But that didn’t damper the mood for players, especially those paired with close friends and old rivals.
The star studded Senior Championship field did not disappoint on Tuesday as only two shots separate leader Tara Joy-Connelly (Bay Club at Mattapoisett), and defending champion Susan Curtin (Boston GC) with one round to go. Joy-Connelly, who held the overnight lead, shot a 3-over round of 75 while Curtin fired 17 pars against one bogey to post 1-over 73.
“Had an awesome pairing today, an awesome day and we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” said Curtin. “The New England Senior Women’s Championship is our biggest regional event that we can play in locally so it’s a really important event for us to compete against each other.” she added.
Rounding out the group was Tracy Welch (Winchester CC) who has significant game of her own as she’s competed in numerous USGA Championships, including making it to the round of 16 in the 2007 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. Welch backed up her 76 yesterday with another 76 today. She sits five shots back but is well aquatinted to the fierce competition. “We competed as juniors so we’ve been doing this for like 40 years,” Welch noted as she laughed with Joy-Connelly.
Friendship and camaraderie were on full display on Tuesday.
“That’s always the thing I love. Seeing my friends and competing against each other,” Curtin commented. “And I think there’s something really special about the senior division, (in) this stage in life we’re doing this for fun. There’s a lot more friendship and camaraderie that comes along with it, which I always enjoy,” the defending champion summarized.
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The three friends will battle it out again tomorrow as they sit atop of the Senior Championship leaderboard. But right on their heels is Mass Golf’s defending Senior Amateur Champion Pamela Kuong (Charles River CC). Kuong’s group consisted of fellow Massachusetts natives Christine Gagner (The Tour), and current Legends Championship leader Mary Gale (Bedrock GC). Their group was full of cheering and laughter as the three friends enjoyed their Tuesday morning playing together.
“We’ve been playing this for as long as I can remember and it’s something we look forward to every year. It’s nice to see the other state people as well. It’s great event,” Gale commented.
Gale played solid yesterday and she was thrilled to post 79, where she feels like her game is at. “Today ball striking was really good, my putting, I don’t know what happened,” she mentioned. “I had a lot of 30 and 40 footers and started three-putting…once you start doing that you start getting tentative out there.”
After her round Gale was back on the practice green putting in work. She plopped a couple of balls and began hitting a few eight footers with her good friend Gagner watching. Although they compete on the course, their camaraderie was exhibited as Gagner gave some pointers and cheered her friend on as she honed in on her stroke. Gale will look to use these pointers as she tries to go a wire-to-wire for the Legends Championship tomorrow.
This small act of companionship best summarizes the feelings of the New England Women’s Amateur Championship.
“Since we’ve played with lot of the same people from different states we’ve become friends with a lot of the players. When we go to national tournaments it’s a little collective group of people cheering for each other from New England,” Kuong commented.
In the Women’s Amateur Championship, the Smith sisters continued to do their thing as the pair fired matching 2-under 70s. Molly Smith (Mount Pleasant GC) carded a bogey free round en route to her 70, while sister Morgan Smith (Vesper CC) notched four birdies in her last 10 holes, including a bogey free 3-under 33 to close her round strong. Molly sits atop the leaderboard with a two shot lead over Morgan, and a five shot lead over Lillian Guleserian (Blue Hill CC) who posted a 1-under 71 in the second round. Shannon Johnson (Thorny Lea GC) also posted a 1-under 71 to climb up the leaderboard into solo fourth with a two day total of 146. Rounding out the top five is New Hampshire native Carys Fennessy (Cochecho CC) with a two day total 148.
Last years defending champions Susan Curtin and Morgan Smith are vying for a repeat performance. Both players sit two back of the leaders in their respective championships. Curtin, the 2022 Senior Champion, looks to continue her momentum from today and challenge good friend Joy-Connelly tomorrow to reclaim her title. Morgan looks to become a two time New England Women’s Amateur champion but will have to go through her sister and best friend Molly in order to do so. With back to back par-5s on holes 14 and 15, and a tough closing par-3 18th, the finish at Manchester Country Club should provide an exciting finish.
HERE ARE THE RESULTS AFTER DAY 2
1. Molly Smith (Mount Pleasant GC); 139 (-5)
2. Morgan Smith (Vesper CC); 141 (-3)
3. Lillian Guleserian (Blue Hill CC); 144 (E)
4. Shannon Johnson (Thorny Lea GC); 146 (+2)
5. Carys Fennessy, (New Hampshire); 148 (+4)
1. Tara Joy-Connelly, (Bay Club at Mattapoisett); 147 (+3)
2. Susan Curtin, (Boston Golf Club); 149 (+5)
3. Tracy Welch, (Winchester CC); 152 (+8)
4. Pamela Kuong, (Charles River CC); 153 (+9)
5. Lin Vulver (Vermont); 158 (+14)
1. Mary Gale, (Bedrock GC); 79 (+7)
2. Nancy Walker, (Connecticut); 85 (+13)
3. Hollis Barry, (Connecticut); 105 (+33)
4. Doreen DiPilato, (Green Hill Muni GC); 108 (+36)
1. Molly Smith (Mount Pleasant GC); 139 (-5 )
2. Lillian Guleserian (Blue Hill CC); 144 (E)
3. Carys Fennessy, (New Hampshire); 148 (+4)
4. Annie Dai, (Student Member/MIAA); 150 (+6)
5. Victoria Veator (Plymouth CC); 151 (+7)
Manchester Country Club opened in 1917 originally designed by two famous golf course designers from the early part of the 20th Century; Tom Bendelow and Deveroux Emmet. A redesign took place in 1935 by legendary architect A.W. Tillinghast.
Manchester Country Club golf course is a fine example of what is called “old New England design.” This means the natural character of the land has been used to advantage, not bulldozed away to fit an abstract concept. The course does not require great length or power, but can reward those assets when properly employed. Greens are generally small, contoured and well protected-often in subtle ways, allowing players with different skills to be challenged and competitive. The course sits at 6,167 yards with a rating of 69.7.