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FRANKLIN/WRENTHAM, Massachusetts – Westford sisters Morgan Smith (Vesper CC) and Molly Smith (Vesper CC) have played stellar matches as individuals, sometimes even head-to-head. But when they join forces, they’re among the strongest women’s amateur duos in the state; and they’re only 15 and 14, respectively.
Four years after their first attempt at qualifying for U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, the Westford Academy standouts have earned themselves a little family vacation. The sisters earned medalist honors by beating 12 other pairs at Tuesday’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball qualifier at Franklin Country Club. They’ll join Susan Curtin (Boston GC) and Chelsea Curtis (George Wright GC) at the Championship Proper from April 25-29, 2020, at Quail Creek Country Club in Naples, Florida.
“To go out there and qualify, it’s really incredible,” said Molly, a sophomore at Westford Academy. “But to be medalists is like, really cool.”
The Smiths carded a 3-under 68 to best the field by two strokes. Molly, a freshman at Westford Academy, carried the pair on the back nine, making birdie on the 16th and 17th and shooting par on 18 to close out their victory.
Their parents, Phil and Lynn Smith, were alongside to caddie. Phil Smith won the Massachusetts Mid-Amateur in 2007.
The Smith sisters aren’t the youngest qualifiers in the brief history of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, which commenced in 2015, as several 11 and 12 years olds have competed. However, if the Smiths won, they’d be the youngest champions in the history of the event.
“The goal is to make it through to match play,” Molly said. “I think we can do it.”
The duo first tried to qualify for the U.S. Four-Ball four years ago at Boston Golf Club when they were 11 and 12 years old. “We actually played really good; our just good was not good enough yet,” Morgan said.
On Tuesday, Molly said her father had her switch from a 7-iron to a 6-iron as she was hitting into the wind on the 171-yard, par-3 16th hole. Morgan was 18 feet away from the pin, but Molly got it much closer. “I hit it straight at the pin, and it went to like two feet,” Molly said. “And then we had to wait a really long time for me to putt, so I was getting nervous, but then I just stepped up and knocked it in.”
Molly, who has always had stellar driving power, also made birdie on the 344-yard, par-4 2nd hole and the 375-yard par-4 17th. Morgan’s lone birdie came on the 408-yard, par-4 6th hole, but her steady play helped the sisters shoot par or better on all but one hole. The lone bogey came on the 10th hole.
The sisters said they struggled in their practice round, especially with three of the first six holes being par-4s beyond 400 yards. However, they well surprassed their intended goal of just making par. “We were like, ‘I don’t think anybody’s gonna rip this course up,'” Molly said.
Curtin, who won the Keyes Cup last month, birdied the 16th hole to bring her and Curtis to 1-under for the first time all day. The pair was 1-over through nine, but birdies on the 11th and 16th got them into a tie.
Rebecca Skoler (Brae Burn CC/Pine Brook CC) and Sophie Simon (Potomac, Maryland), managed a birdie on the 15th to go to 1-under and end up in a playoff back on the 1st hole. Curtin hit her tee shot out of bounds, but Curtis managed to go up-and-down for par. Skoler had a chance to extend the playoff, but her par putt missed to end the match.
Skoler and Simon are first alternate, while Gabrielle Shieh (Nashawtuc CC) and Anne Walsh (The Country Club) shot even-par 71 to earn second alternate.
The Smith sisters have already been impressed onlookers from a young age. Molly and Morgan were the Lowell Women’s Cities champions in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Molly edged out Morgan by one stroke in 2018, aided by a hole-in-one. They’ve each won twice with their dad in the Forward Division of Mass Golf’s Father & Daughter Tournament.
This year, Morgan finished second in the MIAA All-State Tournament, and she went on to win the Father & Daughter Championship Division with her dad. In June, the sisters scored 11 of 11.5 . points for Team Massachusetts at the Junior Intercity matches against Philadelphia and New York.
The Four-Ball won’t be either’s first performance on a national stage. At age 9, Molly played at the 2015 National Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta National, while Morgan was the 2018 World Series Junior Golf Champion at the Triggs Memorial in Providence, Rhode Island.
U.S. WOMEN’S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL SCHEDULE
Saturday, April 23 (18 holes, stroke play)
Sunday, April 24 (18 holes, stroke play)
Monday, April 25 (Round of 32, match play)
Tuesday, April 26 (Round of 16/quarterfinal matches)
Wednesday, April 27 (Semifinal/Championship match)
Mass Golf will provide coverage for its competitors playing in the 6th Annual U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship being contested from April 25-29, 2020. Visit MassGolf.org and follow @PlayMassGolf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest information.