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PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts – Sometimes the stats just speak for themselves. With 7 birdies and just 50 strokes over 14 holes, Chestnut Hill’s Catie Schernecker rode a tidal wave of momentum entering Friday and defeated Shannon Johnson, 5&4, in the 18-hole final match of the 118th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship at Plymouth Country Club (par-70, 5,884-yards).
Schernecker, 19, a member of The Country Club in Brookline, will play for the Harvard University women’s golf team in the fall and will enter her upcoming season with a well-deserved confidence boost — her first individual Massachusetts state amateur title. Johnson, a North Easton resident who plays out of Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton, won the state amateur title in 2018.
“This is a big one,” Schernecker said. “This is probably my favorite event of the year. I’ve been playing in it for the past five years, and match play is such a fun format, but the format this year I think was great. It’s awesome to see how much the field has filled out. There are so many great competitors. Just having everyone in one place being able to play at an amazing course as always is really fun.”
Plymouth Country Club also earned a distinction of hosting a state amateur championship for the first time this week.
Catie Schernecker was relentless from her first swing Friday. She never trailed in the match as she made a birdie on the first hole (par-4, 340-yards) and parred the second (par-4, 390-yards) to jump out to an early lead over former champion Shannon Johnson.
On Thursday, Schernecker made two clutch putts down the stretch, including a 75-foot breaking putt on the 18th, to force extra holes with Jennifer Keim. But these putts weren’t just luck. Despite some nerves, she managed the greens like a professional on Friday, too.
“Getting one to go in on hole 1 was clutch,” Schernecker said. “The greens were pretty fast this morning. They got them rolling really well. Just seeing that first one go in was awesome. I played Hole 2 really safely, but unfortunately, I was in a tough lie on the left rough off the tee, but I hit the shot that I wanted to just to the middle of the green and was able to make a two-putt.”
Johnson won her lone hole on the par-4 4th (391-yards) as Schernecker hit into a greenside bunker and couldn’t get up and down for par. But after that, it was all Schernecker.
With a masterful display of putting, she made an 18-footer for birdie on the par-4 5th (384-yards), drove the green, and two-putted for birdie on the par-4 6th (227-yards), and almost aced the 8th (122-yards) before making a short putt for birdie.
Johnson did her best to keep it close as she got up and down with a pitch from the rough on the 6th and then nearly mimicked Schernecker’s shot on the 8th and made the birdie putt.
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) August 13, 2021
Though Schernecker stood just 2-up through 9, she had no intentions of letting up. She flirted with another hole-in-one on the par-3 10th (157-yards) and made the birdie putt to bring the lead to 3-up a tighten the screws.
“I felt really comfortable on both of the tee shots,” Schernecker said about Holes 8 and 10. “I hit a lot of good shots into Hole 10 this week, not as much on Hole 8. I knew the club I needed to hit on 8. I was basically where the pin was yesterday by accident, so I knew where I needed to land it and I just executed well on both of the shots.”
At that point, Johnson had little room to make up ground. After tying the 11th (par-4, 395-yards) with pars, they both made birdie on the 12th (par-5, 445-yards), before Schernecker essentially slammed the door shut. After hitting on the back-left of the green, Schernecker had about 18 feet to the hole. But just as she’d done throughout the round, she hit the perfect putt at the perfect pace, and it dropped into the cup to widen the lead to 4-up.
And she didn’t pass up a chance to win it on the 14th.
Schernecker hit her tee shot to the right edge of the fairway and landed her approach in front of the green. Johnson ended up just shy of the green and putted to within 5 feet. With one final putting stroke, Schernecker placed her birdie bid within a foot, and Johnson missed it to end the match.
“Putting was just hot today,” Schernecker said. “It just felt like it came together. It hasn’t felt too different the whole week than it did today, just a few more one-ins, and I didn’t have as many as many mid-distance putts because my chipping was a little better today. I got to mid-longish ones on 1 and 13 to go in, so that was awesome.”
Ironically, Friday’s final match was her shortest round of the entire championship. Every match had gone the distance, including three going to extra holes.
“Sometimes that puts a little pressure on knowing that a putt can win or not win the match,” she said. “Today, I was lucky to get out to an early lead, so I didn’t have as much of that. I was just trying to play the best I could.”
Schernecker will now begin a new chapter in her life as she begins her college journey at Harvard University.
“This is my last tournament of the summer, so it’s really awesome to go out here, especially feeling like I really played my best today,” Schernecker said. “It’s great for confidence. I’m ready for a lot more competition, so hopefully, I’ll be traveling a lot and competing a lot as well.”
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Stroke Play: 75-75-150 (T6/No. 7 seed)
R32: Def. Chelsea Curtis, 19 Holes
R16: Def. Mary Chamberlain, 1-up
Quarterfinals: Def. Victoria Veator, 20 holes
Semifinals: Def. Jennifer Keim, 19 holes
Final Match: Def. Shannon Johnson, 5&4
Here are some other tidbits from the final match at the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship.
🏆 Catie Schernecker 🏆
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) August 13, 2021