- Golfer Benefits
CONCORD, Massachusetts – Molly Smith (Westford, MA) qualified for her second U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Nashawtuc Country Club on Monday, finishing with a 3-under 69 to earn medalist honors. Fellow Bay Stater Emma Abramson (Sandwich, MA) also punched her ticket to secure her first appearance in the championship.
Abramson finished even-par alongside Ina Kim-Schaad (New York, NY), Coco Pei (Canada) and Kaitlyn Lee (Scarsdale, NY). Qualifying as alternates were Penelope Tir (Winnetka, IL), who finished with a 1-over 73, and Ella Weber (Canada), who advanced in a four-hole playoff after shooting a 2-over 74 through 18.
They’ll head to Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington next month for the week-long competition, which begins August 8.
“I’m super excited about it,” Smith said. “I think this year especially going in because I kind of understand how the event works and things like that, so that will be super helpful going in with some past experience.”
Smith utilized a new approach she’s been trying lately where she aims to shoot 1 under par through nine. She accomplished that on both nines, where she was 2-under through the front nine and 1-under on the back. She was the only competitor to take an under-par lead heading into the back nine, and she finished the day with four birdies.
“I’m kind of a weird player where it’s really easy for me to separate the front and the back, so it’s almost like two separate rounds,” she said. “I wasn’t really thinking much about the front side, I was just trying to hit good shots on the back side and make birdies and finish strong.”
Though she faced a qualifying field that included two U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship winners in Kim-Schaad (2019) and Shannon Johnson (North Easton, MA; 2018), Smith was pleased to finish on top as one of the younger qualifiers. She also looks forward to facing a championship field at Chambers Bay with top-level collegiate competition.
“So to be on the younger side, it’s definitely super exciting to be able to kind of go against competition that I’ll see in college in not that many months, like a little bit over a year,” Smith said. “It’s one of those events that you get to see the best of the best there, so it’ll be really fun.”
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Abramson was also happy to earn her spot as one of the youngest competitors at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“Being on the younger side, I feel like you almost have a chip on your shoulder, like, ‘Wow, I made it here,’ and just to be amidst all that competition will something to see how your game stacks up against some of the older collegiate players and for what’s coming in college,” she said.
She took a low-pressure approach to qualifying, deciding to give it her all and see what the results would produce: “Going into today, it was like, I’m just gonna shoot as low as I can, and to see that I made it, it’s awesome,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Abramson devoted her round to Rick Willett, a close family friend and member of the Massachusetts golf community who recently passed.
“This round was really special,” she said. “We were really close with them, so I just want to dedicate this round to him.”
Of the remaining qualifiers, the only returner was Kim-Schaad, who played in the first two rounds of stroke play but did not advance to match play. Pei withstood bogeys on her final two holes to slide into a tie for second and earn her first U.S. Women’s Amateur qualification. Lee, a rising senior on the Yale University women’s golf team, made birdie on holes 17 and 18 to slide into contention for a spot, also earning her first berth in the championship proper.
Dartmouth’s Tir earned an automatic spot as an alternate with a 1-over 73, aided by two birdies down the stretch that gave her an edge over the four competitors who tied for the second alternate position. The tie between Weber, Celeste Dao (Canada), Morgan Smith (Westford, MA) and Catie Schernecker (Brookline, MA) required two rounds of two-hole playoffs. While Dao and Smith were eliminated during the first round, Schernecker and Weber advanced to the second, with Weber edging Schernecker by one stroke on the par-5 18th hole to nab the last spot.
QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Molly Smith (Westford, MA); (-3) 69
Emma Abramson (Sandwich, MA); (E) 72
Ina Kim-Schaad (New York, NY); (E) 72
Coco Pei (Canada); (E) 72
Kaitlyn Lee (Scarsdale, NY); (E) 72
ALTERNATES (Names; Cities)
Penelope Tir (Winnetka, IL); (+1) 73
Ella Weber (Canada); (+2) 74*
*Advanced in a four-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 University of Kentucky golfer Jensen Carter, who defeated Yu-Chiang (Vivian) Hou 2-and-1.
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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