- Golfer Benefits
STONEHAM, Massachusetts – With temperatures refusing to crack sixty degrees on Monday, winter hats and long sleeves dotted every fairway at Bear Hill Golf Club for U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Qualifying.
With closing birdies, the sides of Morgan & Molly Smith (Vesper CC) and Dartmouth teammates Katherine Sung (Palo Alto, CA) & Samantha Yao (Berwyn, PA) successfully punched their ticket to the USGA Championship.
The round of the day went to college teammates Katherine Sung and Samantha Yao, who shot a 4-under 69. The medalists made six birdies on the day including one on the final hole, which was three strokes better than the way they played the hole the first time around.
Bear Hill GC is a 9-hole course, which means that competitors get two cracks at each hole. In the morning, Sung and Yao struggled on the 9th, both making double-bogey. But in the afternoon, Sung sunk an 11-foot birdie putt to help the team grab medalist honors.
“It’s awesome. It’s my first time playing a four-ball qualifier. So I’ve never done it before, but it’s just awesome to have your teammate have your back. I think, just have fun out there. We made putt on the last hole for birdie. And it was one we had doubled earlier. So I was really excited for us.” said Sung.
“I would say USGA Four-Balls are just so much fun. I think when you’re out there with your teammate, it’s nice when you mess up, someone has your back.” added Yao.
Coming into the 18th hole, the Smith sisters were tied for the final qualifying spot. A par would force a playoff and birdie would send them to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, one that they’ve been itching to play. A few years back the sisters qualified for the Championship, but did not play as the event was canceled due to COVID-19.
So, needing a birdie on the last, Molly Smith stepped up when the team needed her most and delivered the shot of the day. A big drive left her with a short approach into the fast and firm 9/18th green. The shot landed just a few steps short hole location and nearly dropped for an eagle on the first bounce. However, it didn’t drop, but rather skipped off the back of the green, but not before the spin, combined with the severely pitched green, allowed the ball to work its way out of the fringe. The back tracked back down onto the green and came to rest just three feet away. A committed putt into the back of the cup sealed the deal for the Smith sisters, earning them a trip to the U.S. Women’s Four-Ball.
“I’m gonna be honest today was not my best day out there. I didn’t make a birdie through 17 holes. And that’s not really ideal in this format. I was just thinking, Molly, come on. Like there’s no way you’re gonna play 18 holes and not make at least one birdie. So I hit my second shot, just really aggressive. I got lucky that it didn’t skip into the rough back there and then it rolled back down to like three feet which is very nice.” said Molly Smith.
Talking about taking a leading role for most of the day Morgan Smith added “Molly definitely kept me on my toes and kept me nervous. I mean, the back nine wasn’t as bad but we also didn’t know where we stood. I birdied five and six which kind of like started some things and then you know we had couple of like unlucky bounces, like one off the pin, then lipped out. Thankfully we were able to birdie 18.”
The two qualifying teams will now advance to the Championship Proper which will be held in May of 2023.
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U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Katherine Sung (Palo Alto, CA) & Samantha Yao (Berwyn, PA); (-4) 69
Molly Smith (Westford, MA) & Morgan Smith (Westford, MA); (-3) 70
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Megan Buck (North Easton, MA) & Shannon Johnson (North Easton, MA); (-2) 71
Abby Zhu (Andover, MA) & Carys Fennessy (Dover, NH); (-1) 72
Established in 1900, Bear Hill GC is one of the oldest continuous operating private golf clubs in Massachusetts. The course was designed by Alex Findlay, who many called “The Father of American Golf.”
The golf course is a 9-hole course, but utilizes 18 separate tee boxes to create a true 18-hole experience. Kevin Richardson is the Golf Course Superintendent and is the brother of Essex County Club Superintendent Eric Richardson.
This is Bear Hill’s first ever USGA qualifying event, but the course has played host to several Mass Golf and NEGA events in the past. In recent years Massachusetts Junior Amateur, New England Amateur, Massachusetts Senior Amateur and Massachusetts Amateur qualifying have all taken place at the lovely 9-holer located in Stoneham.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship and U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship are among the newest national championships to be conducted by the USGA. The two Four-Ball Championships replaced the now-retired U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships, which were conducted for the final time in 2014.
The Championship will be played for the 8th time in May of 2023. It will be held at The Home Course in DuPont, Washington.
Eligibility states that each member of the side cannot have a Handicap Index® exceeding 14.4. Qualifying is being held at 26 sites from August through December of 2022.
The Champions of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball receive a gold medal, custody of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Trophy for one year, 10-year exemption from qualifying for U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, Exemption for each player to 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Bel-Air CC, and Exemptions into 2023 U.S. Girls’ Junior, U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, if eligible.
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