- Golfer Benefits
DEDHAM, Massachusetts – After a difficult two days of stroke play, the remaining field of 32 match play contenders arrived to disarmingly benign conditions on Wednesday morning. However, the play was far from benign across 16 morning matches, then another 8 in the afternoon, with plenty of birdies flying and even an ace for Piper Jordan (Boston Golf Club) on #12, the Eden hole.
In many ways, Dedham Country & Polo Club is uniquely suited to match play. With its wild, sloping template greens, dramatic elevation changes, and uncomfortable tee shots, bogeys can be much easier to come by than birdies and new theatrics loom around every corner. Watching the scores tick up and the cut line slide down the two-day stroke play leaderboard felt like a victory for the course. Many players appeared relieved to stop battling the golf course and instead, shift their focus to a match play opponent.
Not so much for Molly Smith. “Instead of playing the person I’m playing, I usually try to play the course. Because I do feel like, if I can play well and hit good shots, I’ll have a pretty good chance to win some matches,” said Smith. Perhaps another bout with the course was more appealing to the only player to break par through the first two days.
After capturing Medalist Honors in stroke play with rounds of 75-68, five shots clear of the next closest competitor, Smith (Vesper Country Club) kept it rolling with a resounding 9&7 victory over Jillian Johnson (Hatherly Country Club) in the morning, followed by a 3&2 win over Tate Hadges (Thorny Lea Golf Club) to advance to the final eight.
“I played a little bit better this morning I think. I hit a good shot on one, parred one, and then birdied two. Hit it pretty tight there, which, I made bogies previously on that hole, so it definitely felt pretty good to be one-under or 1-up. And then I continued to just play solid golf the rest of the morning round. Sprinkled a few birdies in there, hit it pretty straight, didn’t really get into any trouble.”
Playing in the first match off and closing it out quite early meant a lengthy break before round two, but Smith was unbothered: “Coming in I knew we were gonna be waiting on that second match for a little bit, so just tried to chill out for a bit, forget about golf. There’s some nice couches in there, they’re pretty comfy.”
Her round of 16 match wasn’t quite as comfortable, nonetheless, Smith prevailed. “Definitely in the afternoon, I didn’t hit the ball as well. I tried to force a few things in the middle of the round that led me to lose some holes, but I was able to get back on track and finish it.” She needed only 28 holes to get through the day, as evidenced by the last of the afternoon matches teeing off while she did her post-round interview.
Entering 2023, Isabel Brozena (Indian Ridge Country Club) had never advanced past the round of 32 at the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur. She broke through that glass ceiling with a morning 3&2 victory over Sofie Robinson (Weston Golf Club), then followed it up by besting Madalin Small (Brookline Golf Course), 4&3.
Unlike Smith, Brozena admitted to playing her opponent rather than the course, “It’s kind of scary. There’s definitely some holes where you’re put in difficult situations, and you know, I just have to think that my opponent is playing the same golf course.”
While she may have approached her round more defensively in stroke play, Brozena seized on an opportunity to go on the offensive, “Obviously you’re playing the person, not necessarily the course, and so, sometimes you have to take more aggressive shots. But I’m just trying to keep my tempo smooth and consistent, and just try not to let anything slip, not let my opponent have a way in. I think to really elevate my game I need to work on my approach shots because these greens are so difficult to hold. So just being able to place myself in the right spots, it’s going to make it a lot more difficult for my opponent and a lot easier for me.”
There was another major key to Brozena’s new-found match-play success. “My dad had to work the first two days and he was able to come out and watch some of it, but I told him, ‘if I make match play, you’re caddying. I’m not pushing this cart for 36 holes for like three days in a row,'” Brozena said, and she was relieved that he accepted the post (ed. note: it doesn’t sound like he had a choice), “He definitely helped calm me down and I had a lot more fun when he was around.”
Mya Murphy (Student Member/MIAA) flourished in her first match play appearance at the Mass Women’s Am, felling two big names in Megan Buck (Thorny Lea Golf Club) and Madison Smith (Vesper Country Club).
Murphy was pleasantly surprised to find herself moving on to the quarterfinals: “I feel awesome. I mean, I’ve never made the cut here before, so I’m really excited. It was such an honor to play with both Megan and Maddie. Just striking the ball well and just wasn’t expecting it really. I mean, I fixed a few things on the range, so that helps. And I also had my dad on the bag, which also helped me a lot.”
At some point, it occurred to Murphy that she was enjoying the more do-or-die tenor of match play, “Actually, I was walking down, I don’t know which fairway it was, and I was like, ‘I like this. I can just hit right at the pin.’ So I kind of just play aggressive. I hit the ball pretty far, so that definitely gives me an advantage in match play. And just try and two-putt, try to get pars.”
Like Brozena, Murphy’s aggressive match play strategy paid dividends. As did their common strategy of putting dad to work, “It’s very hilly. Very hilly. A lot of fescue, that’s definitely the biggest two. The greens are rolling pretty fast–pretty hilly greens as well. A lot of hills, that’s for sure! I’m sure my dad was having fun pushing the bag.”
The quarterfinals will get underway at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, follow by the semi-finals shortly after the conclusion of the morning matches.
1-Molly Smith def. 16-Tate Hadges, 3&2
Much like in her morning match, Smith jumped out to an early lead, winning 3 of the first 4 holes. Hedges birdied the 5th to cut it to 2 down and though she battled all the way to the 16th, she never got it closer than that.
9-Mary Mulcahy def. 8-Emma Abramson, 3&1
It was a back and forth affair for much of the Abramson and Mulcahy match. Tied through 14 holes, Mulachy stepped up with a birdie on the par-4 15th, then won the 15th and 16th to close it out 3&1.
13-Lillian Guleserian def. 4-Shannon Johnson, 19 holes
2018 Champion Shannon Johnson led 1 up through 8, when Guleserian made three consecutive birdies to go 2 up. Johnson fought back, winning 16 with birdie and 18 with par to square the match, but Guleserian prevailed on the first playoff hole.
5-Isabel Brozena def. 12-Madalin Small, 4&3
Trailing by 1 through six holes, Brozena went birdie-par-birdie on 7,8,9 to take a controlling 2 up advantage at the turn. She then reeled off another three hole stretch of wins on 13,14,15 to close out the match.
2-Mekhala Costello def. 8-Christine Mandile 3&2
Costello was 3 down through four holes, but proceeded to win the next three to get back to square. She played the next nine holes in +1, sealing it with steady play.
7-Morgan Smith def. 10-Tracy Martin, 4&2
Martin led 2 up through six holes, before Smith won five of the next seven holes to take control of the match. Smith made three birdies on the back nine, including one on the 16th to close out the match.
14-Mya Murphy def. 3-Madison Smith, 2&1
After halving the opening hole, Murphy won the ensuing three holes to stake a commanding lead early. Though there were some back-and-forth, Smith was never able to get closer than 2 down.
11-Rebecca Skoler def. 27-Clara Chae, 3&2
Skoler, 2022 runner-up, trailed very briefly after birdie on the first hole, but she righted the ship, and led by as much as 4 up. Chae cut it to 3 down with a birdie on 15, but both players double-bogeyed the 16th to end the match.
1-Molly Smith vs. 32-Jillian Johnson, 9&7
After halving the opening hole with pars, Molly Smith went on an absolute tear, winning nine of the next ten holes. While Johnson may not have had her “A” game, Smith would have been tough to beat, as she was bogey-free -3 through the 11 holes that they played.
16-Tate Hadges def. 17-Victoria Veator, 3&2
Hadges and Veator were tied for the first half of the front nine. Hadges then went back and forth between being 1 and 2 up for the rest of the front nine and then between 3 and 2 up for the back nine. The match concluded on the 16th hole where Hadges secured her 3 up lead.
8-Emma Abramson def. 25-Reva Machanavajhula, 8&7
Machanavajhula had a great showing in her first Mass Women’s Amateur, but experience won out in this match. Abramson won seven consecutive holes, starting on the 4th, and closed out the match 8&7 on the 11th hole.
9-Mary Mulcahy def. 24-Piper Jordan, 4&2
Mulcahy dominated the first nine holes of the match until Piper fought back on the second side. Piper notched wins on 11, 12, and 13, highlighted by the shot of the day, an ace on 12, the Eden hole. Mulcahy found her rhythm quickly and bounced back to win the match on hole 16.
4-Shannon Johnson def. 29-Samantha Leary, 3&2
Shannon Johnson won the first two holes and never looked back. She led 5 up through 7 and though Leary got it back to 2 down, Johnson was in firm control all the way through.
13-Lillian Guleserian vs. 20-Mary Chamberlain, 5&3
Guleserian had an impressive round against former Mass Women’s Am champ Chamberlain, notching two birdies. Guleserian held the lead throughout the entirety of the round, winning the 14th and 15th holes to close out the match.
5-Isabel Brozena def. 28-Sofie Robinson, 3&2
Brozena took an early 3-up lead, only for Robinson to rally back and tie it by the 8th hole. Brozena, who played in this year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur, won the 9th hole, made birdie on the 13th to take a 3-up lead and closed out the match on the 16th.
12-Madalin Small def. 21-Julia Imai, 6&5
Small was on fire early and and remained that way, winning 2, 3, and 4 with a birdie-par-birdie line. She added two more birdies and an eagle on the 10th as she cruised to victory.
2-Mekhala Costello def. 31-Alia Godek, 4&2
Godek holed out for birdie after hitting into the creek off the tee, but Costello won the next three and held the lead the rest of the way. Costello clinched the match with an excellent iron into the 16th green, and she made the birdie putt to earn her first Mass Women’s Amateur match play victory in three tries.
18-Christine Mandile def. 15-Amy Lyon, 2&1
In a matchup of two Winchester Country Club members, Lyon took a 4-up lead by winning holes 2-5, but Mandile charged back and tied it with a par on the par-4 13th. Mandile won the 15th and 16th with pars and closed it out with a two-putt par on the par-3 17th.
7-Morgan Smith def. 26-Mackenzie Whitney, 2-up
Whitney got off to a hot start in the match, going 3 up by the end of the 5th hole. Whitney secured the lead until Smith bounced back on hole 11. Smith then tied Whitney on 13 and secured her first lead on hole 14 through the end of the match.
10-Tracy Martin def. 23-Abby Stone, 3&2
Martin stumbled on the first hole with a double-bogey, but she bounced back, winning holes 2 and 3 to establish a lead that she would not relinquish. A par on the 16th wrapped up the match.
3-Madison Smith def. 30-Meredith Scala, 2-up
The youngest Smith sister started off the round 1 up through the first two holes. Scala then took the lead on hole 5 until Smith tied her again on hole 8. The two competitors battled back and forth between being tied or one of each other being 1 up. Smith held onto her 1 up lead on 16 and finished 2 up on the last hole.
14-Mya Murphy def. 19-Megan Buck, 5&4
Murphy earned her first match play victory in the Mass Women’s Amateur against Buck, who has made match play each of the past seven years. Murphy made a pair of birdies on the front nine (2&6) to shoot 36 and lead 4-up at the turn.
27-Clara Chae def. 6-Allison Paik, 19 holes
The lead changed hands six times in the most back-and-forth match of the morning, but Chae prevailed over the 2020 champion. Paik tied the match on the 18th hole, but Chae made birdie on the 1st to secure the victory.
11-Rebecca Skoler def. 22-Jillian Barend, 2&1
Skoler won four of the first five holes and held on late as she tries to make it back to the final match once more. Barend got within 2 by winning the 15th, but she couldn’t win the 16th and 17th to extend the match.
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