- Golfer Benefits
HAVERHILL, Massachusetts – A wet rainy morning saw tee times pushed back over an hour at Renaissance Golf Club on Tuesday. The setback certainly didn’t stop Yale’s Mia Sessa. The sophomore from Augusta, GA went on a tear as she birdied four straight holes to get to 5-under through 11 holes. She continued to play flawless golf as she carded a bogey-free 6-under 66 to run away with medalist honors.
Golf runs deep in the Sessa family, as her dad, Tony Sessa, is one of the head golf professionals at the well-known Augusta National Golf Club. Dad took a break from work on Tuesday and stepped in for a far more important role, the dad-caddie, which meant a lot to Sessa.
“It was really special,” she commented. “My dad and I share a brain when it comes to golf.”
On the par-4 11th, Sessa knocked her approach below the hole 10 ft away and poured in the right-to-left birdie for her fourth in a row and fifth of the day. She credited her good play to her putting and mental game, which was superb throughout the round.
“I’ve been working really hard the last few months, (today’s round) is definitely a tribute to all the hard work paying off,” Sessa commented. “I’m excited for the events to come this summer and putting some other low rounds under my belt.”
She’ll look to fire more rounds like today when she heads to Bel-Aire Country Club in August to compete in the 123rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Qualifying alongside Sessa in regulation was Sawyer Brockestedt (Rehoboth Beach, DE) who carded four birdies en route to a 2-under 70, including a clutch 5 ft par putt on the 18th, which was good enough for solo second and a ticket to Bel-Aire as well.
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To determine the final spot, a 4-for-1 playoff was needed between Morgan Smith (Westford, MA), Ashley Chow (Canada), Molly Smith (Westford, MA), and Phoebe Brinker (Wilmington, DE), who all shot 1-under 71 in the qualifying round.
The playoff started on the difficult par-3 17th, where Molly Smith was the lone player to hit the green in regulation. Brinker was unable to get up and down while Chow and Morgan Smith made some clutch up and downs to advance to the next playoff hole. After mishitting her chip shot, Morgan left herself a 10 ft uphill putt for par, which she drained and carried some momentum into the next hole.
Chow and the Smith sisters all put their balls in play off the tee, and laid up on the fairway at the par-5 18th. Morgan was first to hit her approach, and fired a dart to 6 ft, which put the pressure on the other two. Chow hit her approach long, while Molly stuck hers to 16 ft. After coming up short on a must make flop shot from behind the green, Chow almost holed her next chip for par, but tapped in for bogey and the stage was set for the Smith sisters.
Molly played a perfect putt and it began to take the break as it started feeding its way to the hole. The ball barely missed on the high side and curled around the cup for an easy tap in par. That left Morgan with a putt she’ll always remember.
Going through her full routine, Morgan set up, took her chest putter back and knocked the ball dead center as she fist pumped in celebration. After last year’s near miss, this one felt really special.
“I feel great. I’ve been close in this the last two years but to finally get it done, especially in a 4-for-1 playoff, I’m happy to pull through,” she said with a smile beaming on her face.
“I’ve been putting really well. A lot of it is just confidence and trying to make a lot of the putts I’m looking at.”
Smith will look to take her confidence from this summer and bring it to Los Angeles when she tee’s it up with the world’s best amateurs for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on August 7, 2023.
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Mia Sessa (Augusta, GA); (-6) 66
Sawyer Brockstedt (Rehoboth Beach, DE); (-2) 70
Morgan Smith (Westford, MA); (-1) 71*
ALTERNATES (Names; Cities)
Molly Smith (Westford, MA); (-1) 71
Ashley Chow (Canada); (-1) 71
*Advanced in a two-hole playoff.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is one of the original three championships hosted by the USGA, along with the U.S. Open Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship. It was first contested in 1895 after being assembled at the last minute, with Mrs. Charles H. Brown winning the first U.S. Women’s Amateur title at Shinnecock Hills Club in Southampton, New York. 1895 was the only year the championship was conducted as a stroke-play competition, as it was permanently changed to match-play format the following year.
JoAnne Gunderson Carter sits atop the all-time leaderboard with five wins, contributing to her record eight USGA championship wins. Of late, Danielle Kang, who is now on the LPGA Tour, was the last to defend her title, winning back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 as a teenager. The most recent winner was Japanease native Saki Baba, who defeated Monet Chun 11-and-9.
The last time the championship was held in Massachusetts was 1997, when Brae Burn Country Club was the site of Silvia Cavalleri’s 5-and-4 defeat of Robin Burke.
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