Mass Women's Amateur: Morgan Smith Sets Stroke Play Record To Claim Medalist Honors - MASSGOLF

Morgan Smith Earns Top Seed In Match Play At The Orchards Golf Club; Full 32-Player Bracket Set

For Immediate Release: August 16, 2022

SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts – There aren’t many golfers in the Commonwealth playing better golf than Morgan Smith (Vesper Country Club) at the moment. Over the past two days at 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship, she’s made that pretty clear. Only three rounds have been under-par here at The Orchards Golf Club, and two belong to her.

On Tuesday, Smith shot a 3-under-par 69, to earn the top spot in match play. Her two-day score of 4-under 140 is the lowest stroke play score to par since the format shifted to 36-holes of stroke play qualifying in 2019. (Rebecca Skoler also shot 140 last year at the par-70 Plymouth Country Club).

And now for the second consecutive year, the 32 low scorers are advancing to match play under a single bracket. Smith, the top seed, will face, Amy Lyon (Winchester Country Club), who played for Team Massachusetts in the Girls’ Junior Inter-City Team Matches earlier this year. That match will begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday with the remaining matches beginning in 10 minute increments after. The Round of 16 will take place in the afternoon, the quarterfinals and semifinals on Thursday, and the 18-hole championship match on Friday.

Morgan Smith holds up the medal given to the stroke play medalist on the 18th green on Tuesday. (Mass Golf)

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MATCH PLAY BRACKET

WHAT HAPPENED

After taking a one-stroke lead on the strength of a steady opening round Monday, Morgan Smith didn’t just coast on her lead. Instead, she was more aggressive off the tee box. The New England Women’s Amateur champion started her day with a birdie on the first hole and got up-and-down for par on the 2nd. The final eight holes, couldn’t have gone much better, as she crushed it off the tee on the 13th and 14th to make birdie and then hit it to 9-feet on the 18th and made the putt to move to 4-under through 36-holes of stroke play, a feat never accomplished since the stroke play portion was expanded.

“I hit the ball better today, that was probably the biggest difference,” Smith said. “You have to be on the right side of the fairway or the right angle or the second shot’s not going to be so easy.”

And to top it off, this week’s match play will also be a family affair as Morgan’s younger sisters Molly Smith (Vesper Country Club) and Maddie Smith (Mount Pleasant Golf Club) will also be in match play. Morgan and Maddie are on the same side of the bracket but would only face each other if both made the quarterfinals.

“I think it’s pretty funny if I got [to play] one of them,” Morgan said of a potential family match-up.

“Hopefully I [don’t play] Molly for a bit. I think I could take Maddie on,” she added with a chuckle.

Morgan Smith hits her putt on the 4th hole Tuesday. (Mass Golf)

Defending champion Catie Schernecker (The Country Club) also improved on Round 1 to lock up her spot in match play, shooting a 74 on Tuesday, five strokes better than the day prior. The Harvard rising sophomore was particularly proud of bouncing back from her 9 on the 12th hole Monday by hitting a wedge in for a two-putt par on the same hole Tuesday.

“I just had to remind myself during and after that hole [yesterday], that I’m hitting it well and playing well, and just leave it behind me and kind of laugh about it, which I think I did a good job of,” said Schernecker, this year’s winner of the Ouimet Memorial Tournament.

But Schernecker’s true highlight of the day was an eagle on the par-13th, which had shades of last year’s heroic run to the title, where she made a 70-footer on the 18th to force a playoffs in the semifinal. This time, she hit a hybrid into the green from the right side of the fairway and then sank a 50-footer for the eagle.

“That was awesome because I hadn’t really seen anything go in outside of 8 feet before that,” Schernecker said. “I feel like I’m reading these greens well. There’s a lot of slope, but I feel like I’ve got the hang of them. You always want to see more [putts] fall, but I feel comfortable on the greens.”

On Wednesday, she’ll have a rematch with Mary Chamberlain (Cummaquid Golf Club), who took Schernecker to 19 holes in the Round of 16 last year.

Last year’s medalist Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club) is hoping this is the year she can climb the top of the mountain. The two-time reigning Mass Women’s Stroke Play Championship winner shot a 1-under 71 in the second round to lock up the second overall spot for match play. She’ll take on Rio Pearlstein (KOHR Golf) in the Round of 32 on Wednesday.

Skoler made three birdies on Tuesday, closing out her round with an up-and-down on the 9th to finish 1-over 145 over the two days.

Mekhala Costello (Blue Hill Country Club) took home the Osgood Memorial Trophy for shooting the Low Net score of 4-under through 36 holes. With a score of 1-over 73 (her actual score) on Tuesday, Costello moved into the fourth overall spot and will face Butler University rising sophomore Madalin Small (Brookline Golf Course) in the Round of 32.

Mekhala Costello shot 1-over 73 with two birdies in Tuesday’s round to earn Low Net honors. (Mass Golf)

Other notable match play qualifiers include Longmeadow’s Annie Dai (MIAA), who won the Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur title at The Orchards last year. Allison Paik (The Cape Club of Sharon), the 2020 champion, is in, as well as mid-amateur standouts and close friends Chelsea Curtis (The Country Club) and Sue Curtin (Boston Golf Club). Curtin and Curtis played as a team in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball this April in Puerto Rico. Keira Joshi (Nashawtuc Country Club), a First Tee Massachusetts participant, also advanced to match play for the second consecutive year.

There was a 6-for-5 playoff to determine the final match-play spots that took place on the long par-4 1st hole. Mary Chamberlain (Cummaquid Golf Club), the 2009 champion, advanced along with Amy Lyon (Winchester Country Club), Madalin Small (Brookline Golf Course), Jaelyn DeBoise (Springfield Country Club), and Rio Pearlstein (KOHR Golf). All five players made bogey. Mary Mulcahy (Hatherly Country Club) was eliminated with a double bogey.

WATCH: ROUND 2 RECAP VIDEO

NOTABLE

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

  • Morgan Smith, 18, is the youngest player to earn medalist honors since Isabel Southard did so at age 18 back in 2014.
  • Na Liu (Cape Ann Golf Club) may have finished at the bottom of the leaderboard, but there’s no doubt she had the shot of the day. Liu aced the par-3 17th (153 yards) using a 3-iron. It’s the first-ever hole-in-one for the 32-year-old who started playing golf at age 17 in China. She came to the U.S. four years ago, and has been here since. Keep this in mind the next time you think about giving up on the golf course.
  • Stacey Freda (Andover Country Club) pulled off an extremely strong rally on Tuesday to get into match play. Freda shot a 6-over 78, improving by 12 strokes the day prior. That not only got her into match play but helped her avoid the playoff for the final match play spots.
  • Entering this championship, Lindsay Cone competed in the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, a mountain bike race in Colorado that begins at 10,000 feet elevation. Cone, who previously worked for Spartan Race and now Athletic Greens, has always been an adventure sports athlete. At the University of Denver she led the ski team to a national title, but also played for the women’s golf team. She competed at Team USA at World Cup events from 2010-2013, but injuries have shifted her focus more to cycling and golf.
  • College count: Nearly one-third of the players who have played over the past two days have either played college golf this year or will join a college team in the fall: Elise Keane (Wagner College); Jaelyn DeBoise (Stonehill College); Jennifer Walsh (Assumption University); Samantha Leary (Assumption University); Angela Garvin (University of Maryland); Madalin Small (Butler University); Tate Hadges (Holy Cross); Rebecca Skoler (University of Virginia); Emily Nash (Siena College); Ellie de Andrade (Holy Cross); Erin Sullivan (Bryant University); Anna Casagrande (Southern New Hampshire University); Grace Farland (University of Hartford); Phoebe Chamian (Holy Cross); Catie Schernecker (Harvard University); Allison Paik (Colombia); Mackenzie Whitney (Siena College); Christine Mandile (University of Richmond); Alia Godek (Franklin Pierce University); Jacqueline Stiles (Merrimack College); and Bailey Brescia (Assumption University).

QUOTABLE

  • “It’s a little bit different because it’s head on head. You have to play everything like it’s even, but where the other person’s ball goes does affect how you play the hole. If they’re out of the hole, maybe you take a safer route to secure the hole.” — Morgan Smith, on the difference going into match play.
  • “I’m going in to win, and I imagine they’re doing the same.” — Morgan Smith on having her sisters in match play as well.
  • “A lot of the par-5s are reachable. That’s definitely an advantage if you have the length, and those birdie opportunities are fun. It’s fun to go for a par 5 in two [shots]. It plays like a New England course. It’s super hilly, so it’s what I’m used to, but it’s really nice, the greens are rolling well.” — Rebecca Skoler, on what she likes about playing The Orchards.
  • “I don’t feel pressure. It’s just fun to be here. It’s a historical women’s golf course. It’s an amazing event. It’s my last event of the summer again, and it’s a fun field with awesome people to play with.” — Catie Schernecker on her thoughts heading into match play.
  • “The caddie saw the ball, and said it went in, and I said, ‘I don’t believe you, maybe it’s over the green’ and he said, ‘let’s go and check’, and it was [in the hole]’. That’s a surprise, pretty lucky.” — Na Liu, on her hole-in-one Tuesday on the 17th hole at The Orchards.

 

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