- Golfer Benefits
FRANKLIN, Massachusetts – For Megan Buck and Shannon Johnson of Thorny Lea Golf Club, wins at the Women’s Four-Ball Championship have been a regular occurrence. That was the case yet again at Franklin Country Club on Monday, as the duo out of North Easton captured their third consecutive title in the championship.
Mary Jane Wagner (Nashawtuc Country Club) and Barb Hecimovich (Beverly Golf & Tennis Club) took home the net title and finished as the runners-up.
“It’s nothing you take for granted obviously coming in,” Johnson said. “I think our games are in pretty good shape and obviously you never know the field that gets entered. I think there’s a lot of strong teams and we just kind of went out trying to make birdies where we could and play good golf, but if we could have two birdie chances in a hole and make it a little more stress-free, that was kind of the way. We did that pretty well, I think, for the most part.”
The win is the sixth straight for Buck, who won three years in a row with Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club) as her partner before teaming up with Johnson the past two years. It is the third career Women’s Four-Ball victory for Johnson.
“Well clearly I pick very good partners,” Buck joked, “because Shannon was the rock for us today. But yeah, that’s exciting. It’s always a fun event to play and I do like partner events because you can just go out and have fun, so clearly I play my best golf when that’s what it’s about is being fun, a little less stress for you when you know that if you hit a bad shot, your partner might have your back.”
It didn’t take long for Buck and Johnson to take a lead in the championship that they would not relinquish. The twosome jumped out to 2 under on holes 5 and 6 thanks to back-to-back birdies from Johnson. A birdie on 9 from Buck and a long birdie putt on 10 from Johnson increased their lead to 4 under as they made the turn, 3 strokes ahead of the next lowest-scoring competitor. Birdies by Buck on holes 15 and 17 sealed their victory with a 5-under 66.
The longtime playing partners attributed their success in partner competitions to how familiar they are with one another’s games and how well they work together as a result.
“We play so much golf together and we’re always four-ball partners, but I think we learn each other’s games like strengths and weaknesses,” Johnson said. “Also we can club off each other, which I think is very important. So there was a lot of times out there that we needed to hit kind of different layup shots to point A and get to point B. We were just talking through it and there were a couple times where I think we made really good club choices after talking through things that otherwise we could have wound up in a hazard, just different layups and stuff. So I think having really good familiarity with each other’s games definitely is something that’s super needed and helped us a lot.”
Second-place finishers Wagner and Hecimovich ended four strokes back with a 1-under 70. One stroke behind them was the third-place duo of Curtin, a four-time Women’s Four-Ball Champion, and Michelle Foard (Longmeadow Country Club). Despite starting the championship by counting four bogeys on their first six holes, they made a comeback sparked by Curtin’s eagle on the seventh hole that moved them up the leaderboard. Curtin and Foard carded an even-par 71.
The Country Club of New Bedford’s Nicki Demakis and Carla Fitzgerald, a married couple residing in Mattapoisett, took fourth place with a 1-over 72. Fitzgerald led the way with three birdies, including two on the first two holes that put them in front right off the top.
Several competitors who teed off later in the day, Curtin and Foard included, faced significant rain pour for multiple holes during their rounds. Play was suspended late in the afternoon with six golfers remaining out on the course, but resumed once the inclement weather cleared.
Wagner and Hecimovich battled a contentious field of competitors in the net division to come away with a net score of 11-under 60. Their performance was thanks in part to three birdies from Wagner, including one on hole 7, one of the two par-5 holes on the course.
Walpole Country Club’s Lauri Giffin and Erin Sullivan, an incoming freshman on the Bryant University women’s golf team, weren’t far behind with a net score of 62, 9 strokes under par. Demakis and Fitzgerald also made a run at the net title, finishing tied for second with a 62. Their score was a 21-spot improvement from 2021, when they ended as the 24th-ranked net pair.
In fourth place were Kym Pappathanasi (Renaissance) and Caren Althauser (LPGA Amateurs Boston), as well as Seana Gaherin (The Ridge Club) and Laura Hasenfus (Needham Golf Club), with a net 8-under 63.
The field featured a number of young standouts who wound up in the top six, including a fifth-place finish from Victoria Veator (MIAA) and Grace Farland (Marlborough Country Club).
Veator, 18, a rising senior at Ursuline Academy, and Farland, 19, a rising sophomore on the University of Hartford’s women’s golf team, finished with a 3-over 74. Veator previously competed in the 2021 Women’s Four-Ball Championship, also finishing fifth with Sofie Robinson.
Another pair was Murphy and Johnson, rising high school seniors at Sturgis West and Notre Dame Academy, respectively, who entered the championship as the youngest duo in the field with a combined age of 32 years. They received a tough draw being grouped with reigning champions Buck and Johnson, but felt the experience taught them a lot.
“It definitely made us play better and challenged us to keep going,” Murphy said. “It felt like sometimes we were playing bad and then we looked at who you’re playing with, right?”
Murphy and Johnson were satisfied with their overall performance at the championship, which was the first Massachusetts Women’s Four-Ball Championship either has competed in.
“Overall, we were pretty consistent, a couple of blips here and there but we feel good about our game,” Johnson said.
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