- Golfer Benefits
NORTON, Massachusetts – Morgan Smith (Vesper Country Club) will represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, which begins Monday at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Smith returns to the championship for the second year in a row.
“It’s really exciting,” Smith said. “Obviously USGA events are just absolutely insane to go to, so I’m really excited.”
Smith’s first appearance in the U.S. Girls’ Junior came in last year’s championship at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She played in the first two rounds of stroke play but missed the cut for match play with a 159.
Smith tees off at 2:21 p.m. ET on hole 1 for the first round of stroke play and at 9:06 a.m. ET on hole 10 for the second round. Smith is paired with Oregon State commit Kyra Ly of Portland, Oregon, and Ohio State commit Kary Hollenbaugh of New Albany, Ohio.
Monday, July 18 (Round 1, 18 holes, stroke play)
Tuesday, July 19 (Round 2, 18 holes, stroke play)
Wednesday, July 20 (Round of 64, match play)
Thursday, July 21 (Round of 32/Round of 16, match play)
Friday, July 22 (Quarterfinals/Semifinals, match play)*
Saturday, July 23 (Championship Match, 36 holes, match play)**
*TV: Golf Channel, 6-8 p.m. (Semifinals only)
**TV: Golf Channel, 3-5 p.m.
Smith qualified for the 2022 championship at Oak Hill Country Club, sharing medalist honors with New Zealand’s Consuela Guo. After getting off to a 2-over start through the first seven holes, Smith made four birdies down the stretch to finish 2 under.
“There was definitely nerves going into today just because it’s one day shootout and you want to do your best,” Smith said after completing her round at Oak Hill and receiving her official USGA qualifying certificate for the championship.
The qualification was Smith’s latest accolade in what has been a standout season thus far for the Westford native. Last month, she led wire-to-wire in a 12-stroke victory at the New England Women’s Amateur Championship, where she was the first junior to win the event in 19 years. Her three-day score of 209 was the lowest recorded by a competitor in 16 years.
After graduating from Westford Academy in the spring, Smith will head to Phillips Exeter Academy in the fall for a post-graduate year on the Exeter women’s golf team.
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Smith enters a championship field of 156, which includes 22 exempt players. Qualifying for the remaining 134 spots was conducted at 42 sites across the country between May 25 and July 1.
The field has an average age of 16.5 years. She is one of 46 18-year-olds in the field and one of two golfers who come from New England.
The field includes two USGA Champions: Sarah Im,17, of Duluth, Georgia, and Thienna Huynh,18, of Lilburn, Georgia, who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Puerto Rico in April. The runners-up in that championship, Kaitlyn Schroeder, 17, of Jacksonville, Florida, and Bailey Shoemaker, 17, of Dade City, Florida, will also make the trip to Bowling Green.
The highest-ranked player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ in the championship is Megha Ganne, 18, of Holmdel, New Jersey. Ganne is the world No. 15, and she also leads the field with four previous appearances in the U.S. Girls’ Junior. She will join the Stanford University women’s golf team in the fall.
Ganne is one of 35 competitors set to join an NCAA program at the end of the summer.
Six golfers competed in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, with Shoemaker and Japan’s Saki Baba, 17, making the cut.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship was established in 1949, one year after the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. Philadelphia (Pa.) Country Club, one of the oldest clubs in the nation, hosted the first championship on its Bala Course, which opened in 1891, three years before the founding of the USGA. Girls’ Junior champions have won the U.S. Women’s Amateur seven times and the U.S. Women’s Open six times. Additionally, 20 champions have gone on to represent the USA on the Curtis Cup Team.
Considering the age limitations on a junior golf career, Hollis Stacy’s record of three consecutive Girls’ Junior Championships (1969-1971) is among the most remarkable accomplishments in USGA history. In 2016, Eun Jeong Seong joined the elite club of back-to-back U.S. Girls’ Junior winners, the first since 1971, and followed her victory by winning the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur, making her the first player to win the two prestigious championships in the same year and just the third female to win multiple USGA championships in the same year.
Kay Cornelius, the 1981 winner, is also among the noteworthy champions. Her mother, Kathy Cornelius, won the 1956 U.S. Women’s Open, making them the only mother-daughter tandem to have captured USGA championships. Other notable winners include Amy Alcott (1973), JoAnne Gunderson Carner (1956), Heather Farr (1982), Pat Hurst (1986), Ariya Jutanugarn (2011), I.K. Kim (2005), Nancy Lopez (1972, 1974), Inbee Park (2002), Lexi Thompson (2008) and Mickey Wright (1952).