Mass Women's Amateur: Skoler Bests Course Record On Day 1 - MASSGOLF

University of Virginia Standout Rebecca Skoler Shoots 64 In Opening Round At Plymouth Country Club

For Immediate Release: August 9, 2021

PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts – On a day where Plymouth Country Club hosted its first-ever state amateur championship, Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Golf Club) took a little piece of history herself.

The University of Virginia sophomore set a women’s course record with a 6-under-par 64 in the first 18 holes of stroke play to distance herself far ahead of the 94-player field on a foggy, humid Monday. She was also the only player to shoot under par, as Harvard senior captain Anina Ku (Belmont Country Club) currently sits in second place at even-par 70.

After another 18-hole round of stroke play Tuesday, the low 32 scorers will advance to match play on Wednesday. The Round of 32 and Round of 16 will take place Wednesday, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals Thursday and the 18-hole final match Friday.

ONLINE: MASS GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL | ROUND 1 SCORES | ROUND 2 STARTING TIMES | PAST CHAMPIONS

WATCH: DAY 1 RECAP VIDEO

WHAT HAPPENED

Rebecca Skoler says she’s been looking forward to this year’s Massachusetts Women’s Amateur since last year. A semifinalist each of the past two years, Skoler made it clear she’s determined to win it this year.

Despite the fog, Skoler saw the course perfectly clearly Monday as she made birdie seven times, hit all but one green in regulation, and rolled in several putts to charge ahead of the field Monday. What’s more, this is only her second time playing the course, relying on notes from Sunday’s practice round.

“I just felt really comfortable over the ball,” Skoler said. “My ball-striking was really good, and then I was just trying to try to hit as many greens as possible, and I know that I can rely on my lag putting and my pace so that was really comforting.” 

Rebecca Skoler shot a 6-under 64 to set a course record at Plymouth Country Club during the first round of the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur. (Mass Golf)

Skoler started on the back-nine and made birdie three consecutive times on holes 12-14. Her lone blemish was a bogey on the 18th, but she turned it around quickly by making birdies on holes 1 and 2. Though the fog blanketed the fairway on hole 2 (par-4, 385-yards), Skoler hit a solid drive and then had 170-yards to go. After striking a six-iron she was just outside 6-feet but made the putt to move to 4-under.

“I had no idea where to aim, but I knew that yesterday went in the left rough, so I had a lot of space right so I just swung and hoped it was in the fairway,” said Skoler, who rounded out her day with successful birdie putts on the par-4 5th (380-yards) and par-4 7th (319-yards).

Skoler also comes into this event fairly rested, with her last two events being the Western Women’s Amateur and Ladies National Golf Association (LNGA) Amateur, both ending in July. Skoler took advantage of a late entry into the Western Women’s Am and was the No. 6 seed after shooting 69-70 –139. Though she lost in the opening round, she followed up with a solid top-20 performance in the LNGA Amateur.

And now her focus is shifted to the Women’s Amateur as the two-time Junior Amateur champion is seeking a new title.

“This is like my favorite event of the year,” said Skoler, who won the Massachusetts Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy back in June. “I love playing this event … so I’ve been looking forward to it for a while.”

Harvard University women’s golf captain Anina Ku (Belmont Country Club) is playing in her first multi-day event of the summer but finds herself ahead of everybody except Skoler after Round 1.

Ku got off to a strong start with a birdie on the par-4 1st (340-yards) and added two more on the par-3 10th (158-yards) and par-4 13th (326-yards). Ku said she was strong off the tee and using irons, setting up good chances throughout the round.

“I felt calm at the first tee,” Ku said. “Things were going smooth, and I really fell into a rhythm for the rest of the round.”

Megan Buck (Thorny Lea Golf Club), the medalist at last year’s Women’s Amateur, finds herself tied for third at 1-over with newcomer Sana Tufail (Southborough Golf Club).

Buck kept a clean card with 15 pars, as she was able to keep it in the fairway most of the day. She said has struggled with the driver at times throughout the summer but today hit it well.

“That’s important out here if you can stay in the fairway and give yourself a good shot in,” Buck said. “My goal was just to go and post good scores and just stay out of trouble, and I was able to do that pretty well today.

Tufail is a British native who grew up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is currently in the Boston area to finish her master’s degree in speech-language pathology. This summer, she is completing an internship at New England Center for Children in Southborough.

A former standout at Old Dominion University, Tufail decided to compete in the Mass Women’s Amateur, her World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) event in two years. With two committed shots down the closing stretch, she jumped into the top-3. On the 7th, she had 91-yards downwind on the approach and rolled it just shy of the hole. Then on the 8th, she rolled in a 35-footer.

“I saw about two feet left of the hole, and I just told myself to hit it to this beat, and [if] it didn’t go in, just go within the radius of the hole, and then it went in, so I was quite happy that was a bonus,” said Tufail, the lone person to birdie the 7th and 8th.

NOTABLE

Here are some other tidbits from Day 1 at the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship. 

  • Skoler is the first player to shoot in the 60s during stroke play in the Mass Women’s Amateur since Jacquelyn Eleey and Shannon Johnson did so at Thorny Lea Golf Club in 2015.
  • The stroke-play medalist has gone on to win the Mass Women’s Amateur two of the past three years (Shannon Johnson, 2018, Angela Garvin, 2019).
  • When she was 14, Sana Tufail played alongside professionals for the first time in the 2010 British Ladies Open pre-qualifier. In 2011, she shot 1-over 73 in the opening round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, which was won by Lexi Thompson.
  • Recent USGA qualifiers are participating in the Mass Women’s Amateur. Danielle Lee (Renaissance) and Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club) played in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open on July 29-30, while Molly Smith (Vesper Country Club) competed in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
  • Keira Joshi (Nashawtuc Country Club), MacKenzie Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club), and Annie Dai (MIAA) will all participate in the New England Junior Amateur next week, August 15-17, at Val Halla Golf in Cumberland, Maine.
  • Elise Keane (Marshfield Country Club) holed out for eagle on the par-4 5th (380-yards) during the opening round. After hitting her shot into the right rough, she had a blind approach shot leading down into the punchbowl green about 175 yards away. The Wagner College graduate caught the right slope and it rolled right into the cup. Keane then followed up with a birdie on the 6th en route to an 8-over 78.
  • MacKenzie Whitney (Oak Hill Country Club) recently made history at the Oak Hill Country Club club championship as she became the first player ever to ace the par-4 9th. What’s more, it was her first hole-in-one of her career. Whitney, finished 7-over 77.
  • Half of the Siena College women’s golf team is playing in the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur. Margot Osterman (Hyannisport Club), Emily Nash (Northern Spy Golf Club), and Jillian Barend (Foxborough) are all on the roster for the 2021-2022 season but are all at different stages. Osterman just finished her first year, Barend is an incoming first-year, and Nash, a junior, transferred from Elon University after the fall season and played for Siena in the spring.
  • Defending champion Allison Paik (The Cape Club of Sharon) couldn’t manage a birdie in the opening round and finished 7-over 77, which currently puts her T19.

QUOTABLE

  • I was a little bit caught off guard, and I had like 10 minutes to the tee because normally I have to mark my balls, and I go to the bathroom before I tee off, so I was running to the tee, but I think it paid off. — Rebecca Skoler, on rushing to the tee Monday morning.
  • Every day is a clean slate so you have to go out there and grind it out one more time day after day. — Anina Ku, on her mindset entering Day 2 of competition.
  • I find that the courses here a very much like English-style golf courses. In Abu Dhabi, it’s more target golf where if you hit the ball, it’s going to stop, whereas here you have to account for release and then maybe play a club down that’s definitely an important factor. — Sana Tufail, on the differences of golf courses between here and the UAE.
  • My rangefinder wasn’t even working. I couldn’t shoot the flag through the fog. — Keira Joshi, who played in the first group and had to manage the foggy conditions in the morning.
  • I wasn’t evening expecting it. I saw the tournament online, and I was sitting in the car with my mom, and I said ‘oh my gosh, I wonder who’s going to go to that, it’s such a big event. And then the next day Kyle [Harris] (Director of Operations for First Tee Massachusetts) emails me telling me that I’m in it. This is so exciting. It’s my first tournament with 36 holes in a day, and it’s my first big overnight tournament without my parents. Looking at the other people who are going, this is awesome. — Keira Joshi, on being selected for the New England Junior Amateur Championship.
  • If I could get that mental aspect down and then improve my short game, I’m right there, I think. It just makes me want to get back there more now. — Danielle Lee on competing in this year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

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