HINGHAM, Massachusetts - Two days ago, Doug Clapp (Old Sandwich Golf Club-MA) grappled with flying back from Wisconsin. He made the difficult yet calculated decision to withdraw from the second round of the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Erin Hills and head home for another tournament.
"I said I want to come back here and play in something I can win," Clapp said. "What I've said all year is stay in your own lane, and it's fun to be 55 and competing against people in the ballpark of my own age."
Sure enough, his decision paid off as Clapp, 55, captured the title at the 25th New England Senior Amateur Championship on a picture-perfect afternoon at Black Rock Country Club. After playing the final 7 holes of his first round Wednesday morning, Clapp stood at 1-over and then proceeded to shoot a bogey-free 6-under-par 65 to finish to finish four strokes clear of the entire field.
Clapp's victory is in second individual win on the senior ranks, having won the Senior Hornblower Championship last month at Plymouth Country Club. In addition to appearing in nearly 20 USGA Championships, Clapp has also won the 2020 Mass Mixed Four-Ball Championship with Pam Kuong.
Richard Stevens, a municipal golfer from Connecticut, finished runner-up at 1-under total, but the 72-year-old shot a 3-under 68 in the final round to lock up the Super Senior Division title.
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Safe to say, Black Rock Country Club's layout at 6,275 yards fit Doug Clapp's eye much better than Erin Hills, which played to 7,309 yards on Saturday.
A solid ball-striker off the tee, Clapp frequently found the fairway in his second round, and had wedges into the greens at Black Rock. He birdied holes 1, 3, 4 and 7, making each one with relative ease to make the turn at 3-under overall.
Clapp especially put an exclamation point on his rally when he hit a gap wedge into the 17th green, with the ball taking one bounce and almost hoping into the hole, leaving an easy putt.
"All six were all inside of 10 feet," Clapp said of each birdie putt he made. "Coming here the greens are tricky, but if you have a wedge in your hand, especially with the recent rain, you can be pretty aggressive with your approach shots, and I hit a lot of solid wedges.
"The more I can hit driver and be aggressive off the tee, the better I'm going to score."
Clapp said playing alongside Chris O'Neill (Pawtucket CC-RI), and Brian Coakley (Charles River CC-MA), helped him stay in a good rhythm. O'Neill even chipped in for birdie on his final hole.
"It's the first time in a long time that Brian and I have played together," Clapp said. "Chris has such great tempo, and it's fun playing with guys who you fit with. They were rooting me on and that was nice."
Growing up about 30 minutes south of Bangor, Maine, Clapp said he's truly honored to take home a regional title such as the New England Senior Amateur.
"I have a couple of home states in the New England section, so this win is nice," he said.
Richard Stevens also had some clean-up work to do in the morning, but the senior stalwart was tremendous the entire day and was rewarded with the Super Senior Division title.
"Any time you can play in a tournament with guys like Dave Szewczul, Frank Vana, and Bill Hermanson, and you beat them, you played well," said Stevens, who won the Connecticut Senior Amateur in 2007 and 2020.
"I'm 72, but the great thing for me is I'm still improving, and barring some injury or something that's unexpected, I think I can keep improving for another 2-3 years."
That isn't just bluster as Stevens made six birdies, including three consecutive birdies on holes 2-4 in the afternoon round. However, he said his best shot actually came in the morning on hole 17.
"I hit a good drive, but I'm in a divot and I have 131 yards to the pin," Stevens said. "My seven-iron replacement is a hybrid, and my longest iron is an 8, and normally 130 is a 9-iron for me. So I cut a hybrid out of there, held it up against the wind and knocked it to 6 feet and made the putt."
1 - Doug Clapp; Old Sandwich GC (MA); -5; 73-68--137
2 - Richard Stevens; EClub of Connecticut (CT); -1; 73-68--141
T3 - John McNeill; Amateur Golf Tour of New England (MA); -E; 73-69--142
T3 - Craig Platt; Mill River CC (CT); E; 73-69--142
T5 - Frank Vana; Marlborough (MA); +1; 74-69--143
T5 - Dean Godek; Agawam Municipal GC (MA); +1; 74-69--143
T5 - Brian Secia; Plymouth CC (MA); +1; 71-72--143
T5 - Jack Kearney; Westover GC (CT); +1; 71-72--143
T9 - Phil Pleat; Nashua CC (NH); +2; 71-73--144
T10 - John Hadges; Thorny Lea GC (MA); +3; 72-73--145
T10 - Don Reycroft; Bayberry Hills/Bass River (MA); +3; 71-74--145
Top Scores From Each State
Connecticut – 2 (-1) Richard Stevens; EClub of Connecticut
Massachusetts - 1 (-5) Doug Clapp; Old Sandwich GC
New Hampshire – 9 (+2) Phil Pleat; Nashua CC
Maine – T21 (+6) Scott Dewitt; Biddeford-Saco CC
Rhode Island – T12 (+4) Chris O'Neill; Pawtucket CC
Vermont – 53 (+14) Jeffrey S Dolin; Orleans CC
HINGHAM, Massachusetts - For the second consecutive year, the New England Senior Amateur Championship was effected by rain. But despite a two-hour delay for unplayable conditions due to rain, everybody was able to at least start their opening round Tuesday at Black Rock Country Club.
Leading the way at 3-under is Connecticut's Craig Platt (Mill River CC), who won the Connecticut State Golf Association's Senior Match Play championship last year. Jeff Page (Wellesley Country Club), the head coach for the Babson College men's golf team, is two strokes off the lead and is closest among players who finished their rounds Tuesday.
In his New England Senior Amateur debut Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher and two-time World Series champion Tim Wakefield finished 2-over 74. Wakefield won the senior club championship at Black Rock and started his round with an up-and-down par on the opening hole followed by a birdie on the par-3 second. He's tied with club member Bud Shultz, a former professional tennis player.
Round 1 was suspended at 6:45 p.m. due to darkness and will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. At the completion of that round, the low 50 and ties will advance to the final 18-hole round of stroke play. The 10 low scorers in the Super Senior Division (age 65-plus) will also play in the second round.
Craig Platt has kept a relatively low profile in amateur golf circles. Last year he won Connecticut's Senior Match Play Championship, but after today, he has certainly turned some heads.
The Stamford, Connecticut, resident played hockey and golf at New England College, and after coaching hockey and raising a family has begun to improve on his game. Last year he finished T72 in this championship, but now finds himself atop the leaderboard.
"I've been working hard this summer, playing more competitive golf," said Platt, who made Connecticut's Tri-State team last year. "Late in life, I'm just a person who's driven to see what I can do now."
Playing in the first group Tuesday, Platt rode a hot putter to six birdies including three consecutive on holes 7-9, though that stretch was interrupted by the weather delay. Thanks to hitting good irons into greens, he had no 3-putts.
"That was the best part of my game," Platt said. "I had good numbers into the greens... I thought they were fair."
While entering the final round with the lead puts him in a new spot, "I feel comfortable going into tomorrow," he said. "My goal is to get to the back nine knowing you're right there."
Chasing him down will be Jeff Page, who also shot 3-under 33, and like Pratt also made three consecutive birdies on holes 7-9, plus up-and-down for par on the 10th.
Page cited course experience with his success. His brother Chris is a member, and he caddied for Tim Wakefield on Tuesday, but fortunately, Page and Wakefield were paired together allowing them all to be together.
"He was helping Tim, but he said a couple of things to me, and it was fun having him out there," Page said. "I knew where I was going the whole time," he added. "It's a hard course, but I was hitting the wedges close and I'm just a longer hitter and can take advantage of that."
Page said he was able to stay limber during the rain delay and upon resumption sank a 10-footer for birdie on the 7th; chipped to 5 feet and made the putt on the 8th; and then carded a 2 on the par-3 9th, which was playing from the forward tee. That stretch leaves him in contention, and as the head coach of a college team, it's something that gets him excited.
"I love seeing my guys being in the hunt, and it's a nice feeling," he said.
New Hampshire's Phil Pleat (Nashua Country Club), who won the title in 2016 and 2017, is also chasing down the leaders at even-par. Pleat isn't a long hitter, but hit enough fairways to allow him to make four birdies, including on the 17th. He almost made a long putt on the final hole but it just missed the mark.
In the afternoon wave, Dean Godek (Agawam Municipal Golf Course-MA) and Patrick McGuiness (Keney Golf Course-CT) both made the turn at 1-under. McGuiness got to 2-under but a pair a bogeys down the stretch put him back to par. Godek got through 16 holes, but some late bogeys took him out of the red figures.
In the Super Senior Division, 2019 champion Jack Kearney (Westover GC) is in the leader in the clubhouse at even-par 71. Kearney, the champion in 2018, hit a nice greenside chip on the 18th to secure his even-par score. Bob Reni (CC of New Bedford) turned at 1-under and made birdie on the 1st hole (his 10th) to get to 2-under, but he will have to finish his round Wednesday morning.
Partial results from Tuesday's weather-delayed first round of the 2022 New England Senior Amateur Championship. Play was delayed due to unplayable weather conditions for 1 hour and 56 minutes during the first round and suspended due to darkness at 6:45 p.m. The first round will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
1 - Craig Platt; Mill River CC (CT); -3; 68
2 - Bob Reni; CC of New Bedford (MA); -2 (Thru 11)
T3 - Jeff Page; Wellesley CC (MA); -1; 70
T3 - John Hadges Thorny Lea GC (MA); -1 (Thru 13)
T5 - Jack Kearney; Westover GC (MA); E; 71
T5 - Don Reycroft; Bayberry Hills/Bass River (MA); E; 71
T5 - Phil Pleat; Nashua CC (NH); E; 71
T5 - Patrick McGuiness; Keney GC (CT); E; 71
T5 - Richard Stevens; EClub of Connecticut (CT); E (Thru 13)
T5 - Dave Szewczul; TPC River Highlands (CT); E (Thru 13)
T5 - Doug Clapp; Old Sandwich GC (MA); E (Thru 11)
Top Scores From Each State
Connecticut – 1 (-3) Craig Pleat; Mill River CC
New Hampshire – T5 (E) Phil Pleat; Nashua CC
Maine – T17 (+2; Thru 14) Scott Dewitt; Biddeford-Saco CC
Rhode Island – T17 (+2) Chris O'Neill; Pawtucket CC & Darren Corrente; Wannamoisett CC
Vermont – T55 (+6; Thru 12) Jeffrey S Dolin; Orleans CC
MANCHESTER, Vermont - Team Connecticut captured the boys' and girls' division titles at the New England Junior Amateur on Wednesday, with the boys' team riding a Day 1 lead to an overall win and the girls' team fending off a final-round challenge. Connecticut also swept the divisional titles, won by Will Lodge and Arabella Lopez.
The team finished with a 27-stroke advantage in the Boys Division and a 10-stroke advantage in the Girls Division to secure Connecticut's 19th and 20th divisional titles at the New England Junior Amateur.
Coming into the final round with an advantage of more than 30 strokes, Connecticut cruised to a Boys Division win with a 1-over Round 3 score. The team was able to count two below-par scores on Wednesday: a 6-under 66 from Elias Kennon, which included a hole-in-one, and a 1-under 71 from eventual champion Lodge. Bradley Sawka and Alex Elia both contributed 2-over 74s.
The Connecticut girls' team entered the day with an 11-stroke advantage, but found themselves in a battle to hold their lead after Team Massachusetts challenged them on the front nine. With at or below-par scores from Massachusetts' Morgan Smith and Annie Dai on the front nine, the two teams made the turn with just a five-stroke difference between them in favor of Connecticut. However, Connecticut took control on the back nine to rebuild their lead and come away with the win. Yvette O'Brien led the Connecticut girls with an even-par 72, while Lopez shot a 2-over 74.
In the individual competition, both Lodge and Lopez battled through a multiple-hole playoff to come out on top. Smith and Lopez both went to a playoff in the girls' competition after an eagle by Lopez on 17 tied them heading into hole 18, which they also tied to finish at 1-under for the championship. Lopez defeated Smith on their second playoff hole. Lodge defeated Maine's Elliot Spaulding in multiple holes to take home the boys' title.
Team Massachusetts finished in second place in both divisions, with both the girls' and boys' teams from the Bay State shooting the lowest Round 3 scores in their respective divisions. Team Maine took third in the Boys Division, while Team Rhode Island rounded out the top three in the Girls Division.
Connecticut's Lodge, Kennon and Sawka, as well as Maine's Spaulding and Rhode Island's Max Jackson rounded out the top five finishers in the Boys Division. In the Girls Division, the top five consisted of Lopez, Smith, O'Brien, Rhode Island's Olivia Williams and Rhode Island's Kylie Eaton.
MANCHESTER, Vermont - After getting off to a blistering start at the New England Junior Amateur Championship on Tuesday, Team Connecticut never looked back as it raced out to a double-digit lead in both the Boys and Girls Divisions.
Connecticut finished Rounds 1 and 2 in the Boys Division at 15-under, fueled by a 14-under team score during the first round, which is 31 strokes ahead of second-place Massachusetts. In the Girls Division, Connecticut logged a 1-under team score, 11 strokes ahead of Massachusetts, which also sits in second in the girls' team competition. The Connecticut team was the only team to finish under par in either division.
Connecticut also boasts the individual leaders in both divisions: Will Lodge and Bradley Sawka in the Boys Division, who both finished with a 6-under 138, and Arabella Lopez in the Girls Division, who carded a 3-under 141.
Connecticut's early lead was thanks to strong morning performances from Lodge and Sawka, who shot a 6-under 66 and 5-under 67, respectively, during Round 1. With a 3-under 69 from Elias Kennon and a 1-under 71 from Will Gregware, the Constitution State's representatives only had to count one score above par in their Round 1 score. It was much of the same in the Girls Division, for which the morning round score included a 4-under 68 from Lopez and a 1-under 71 from Yvette O'Brien.
Connecticut finished the second round with a three scores at or below par in the Boys Division, including a 2-under 70 from Luke Stennett, and a 4-over total in the Girls Division.
Close behind Connecticut is Massachusetts, which captured last year's team titles in both divisions. On Tuesday, the Bay State team finished with a 16-over in the Boys Division and a 10-over in the Girls Division. Leading the way were Morgan Smith and Ryan Scollins, who both posted a 36-hole score of 1-under 143.
The rest of the field isn't far behind Massachusetts in either division, however. In the boys' team competition, Maine finished just two strokes back largely thanks to a 5-under 139 finish from Bennett Berg and a 4-under 140 from Elliot Spaulding. In the girls' team competition, Rhode Island is knocking on the door with just a three-stroke deficit to reach second place. Rhode Island's Olivia Williams finished fourth individually with a 6-over 150, and Kylie Eaton was one stroke back at 151.
Connecticut and Massachusetts both have a championship-leading 18 divisional titles at the New England Junior Amateur, so a win by Connecticut would break the tie. A win in the Girls Division would also be the first for Connecticut in the girls' competition, which was first introduced at the championship in 2019.
By Dalton Balthaser
CRANSTON, R.I. – By the time Jared Nelson teed off for the final round of the 93rd New England Amateur, the Day Two co-leader wasn’t in the lead.
Christian Emmerich, who teed off at 8:10 a.m., more than three hours before Nelson, lit Alpine Country Club (par 72, 6,763 yards) on fire with a final round of 62. His 62 set the course record which was previously 66.
“I showed up 20 minutes before my tee time,” said Emmerich, 21, of Swampscott, Mass., and a rising senior at the College of Holy Cross. “I was just going to go out there and see what happened. I figured if I would shoot 5 under today, I would go home happy. Once I got to 9 under through 12, I was thinking about making more birdies. I finally figured out how to play the course today. It means a lot to get the course record.”
But as Nelson did all week, he remained calm and focused on what he could control.
“I had someone come up to me on the putting green telling me what Christian was doing,” said Nelson. “I looked and saw he was in the lead, and I couldn’t believe it. I went out there with an aggressive mindset. I wanted to push the envelope. Players were going low. I needed to keep up.”
Nelson, aided by par 5 dominance, is the 93rd New England Amateur champion. His final round of 70 was good enough for a one-shot victory over Emmerich, Bryson Richards and Joe Harney.
“When you are able to win it is always fun,” said Nelson, a rising fifth-year senior at the University of Connecticut. “It has been a good summer for me, and this is a great way to keep the momentum going.”
Nelson, the reigning Vermont Amateur champion, got off to a nice start with birdies on Nos. 4 (par 5, 520 yards) and 8 (par 5, 555 yards).
On both occasions he reached the green in two. He hit a crisp 5-iron from 210 yards to 35 feet on No. 4 and a 3-iron laser from 240 yards to 25 feet on No. 8.
But for Nelson, the shot of the tournament came on No. 10 (par 5, 510 yards). After he blitzed a drive and hit an 8-iron from 180 yards to 20 feet, he dripped the putt in the hole at perfect speed to get to 10 under.
“I had a feeling that was a huge putt,” said Nelson, 22, of Rutland, Vt. “Making that putt gives you so much more leeway coming in with a lot of guys chasing you. It was a good one to make.”
It turned out it was vital. Two bogeys on the next seven holes left him with a one-shot lead heading down the last. Nelson knew exactly where he stood and what he had to do.
His drive on No. 18 (par 4, 435 yards) found the left rough but he hit a sand wedge from 135 yards to 10 feet and two-putted for the victory.
Vermont has had a previous total of three New England Amateur champions in the previous 92 editions. Shawn Baker won in 1989, Hans Albertson won in 1990 and Evan Russell won in 2013. Now you can add Nelson to that list.
“I didn’t know that,” said Nelson, who also won the prestigious Hornblower Invitational in June. “That is cool. I grew up in Vermont and my father was a PGA professional there. There are a lot of good players in Vermont that might not get the recognition they deserve that guys in Southern New England do. I knew Evan Russell won in 2013. I looked up to Evan and to have my name along with him on the trophy means a lot to me and shows how far I have come.”
By Dalton Balthaser
CRANSTON, R.I. – Three players shared the Round One lead of the 93rd New England Amateur Championship Monday at Alpine Country Club (par 72, 6,845 yards).
During the afternoon wave, play was suspended for heavy rain at 3:28 p.m. The delay was 57 minutes and play resumed at 4:25 p.m.
Ricky Stimets of Osterville, Mass., Joe Harney of Roslindale, Mass and Elias Kennon of Old Greenwich, Conn. jumped out in front with rounds of 5-under-par 67.
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Stimets finally reaped rewards on the putting green thanks to a putter change. He made the Round of 16 in the Massachusetts Amateur last week at Concord Country Club.
“The first thing I did after I got eliminated at the Massachusetts Amateur was go to a local pro shop and buy a new mallet putter,” said Stimets, 31, who plays out of Worcester Country Club. “I’ve never putted with a mallet before in my life but figured it was time to do something different.”
He rolled in a 12-footer on No. 4 (par 5, 520 yards) to get to 2 under on his round. He made the turn in 3 under and then made eagle on No. 10 (par 5, 512 yards) with a chip-in.
No need for the putter there.
He added birdies on Nos. 12 (par 3, 185 yards) and 14 (par 4, 395 yards). He hit an 8-iron to three inches on No. 12 and a lob wedge from 95 yards to eight feet on No. 14.
A couple of bogeys coming in didn’t leave Stimets discouraged. He knows there’s a long way to go but in his first New England Amateur he is pleased with his start.
“It’s crucial to get off to a good start,” said Stimets. “The field is big and full of great players. Going low is important. There’s no room for error in a 54-hole event. You must be under par at the end of each round.”
Like Stimets, Harney found some success with the flatstick and is entering this year’s championship with some added confidence. He also made the Round of 16 in the Massachusetts Amateur last week.
“I was locked in on the greens today,” said Harney, 30. “I spent a lot of time watching Cameron Smith putt yesterday during the final round of The Open. His free-flowing stroke helped me find my rhythm on the greens.”
His T8 finish in last year’s championship at Great River Golf Club (Conn.) put it in perspective that he could compete.
“I faded on the last day in last year’s event and I find that happens to me a lot,” said Harney, who plays out of Charles River Country Club. “Not sure what it is. I finished strong today by birdieing the last.”
After bombing a drive, Harney pured a lob wedge from 99 yards to 12 feet and converted.
Not a bad round for someone who hadn’t seen the course before.
“I came in blind,” said Harney. “I couldn’t come here for a practice round. It ended up working out. Sometimes not knowing where you are going makes you play smarter and with more focus.”
Kennon finished runner-up in the Connecticut Junior Amateur last week and found something in his game.
“Early in the summer I was struggling with too many swing thoughts,” said Kennon, 17, of Old Greenwich, Conn. “I just needed to focus on one thought. That made a difference.”
The rain delay threw a wrench in the plans of each player in the afternoon wave. Players struggled to keep the momentum they built prior to the delay. But Kennon picked up where he left off.
Kennon started on the back nine and made the turn in 3 under. Then the delay came. But it didn’t bother him one bit.
“Coming out cold like that is tough,” said Kennon, who plays out of Golf Performance Center. “But I just wanted to keep the thoughts that I had on my front nine in my head. Once I made that birdie, I felt my swing come back to me.”
He came right back out and birdied his 11th hole of the day No. 2 (par 5, 520 yards). He striped a 3-iron from 250 yards to 25 feet for an easy two-putt birdie.
“You have to keep the ball in play here,” said Kennon. “I was able to make a good number of putts today. Doing those two things will help me play stress-free golf and contend this week.”
WATERBURY, Vermont - After taking a big lead in Round 1, Massachusetts' Morgan Smith never looked back at the New England Women's Amateur Championship, coming away with the Championship and Junior Division titles at the Country Club of Vermont on Wednesday.
Massachusetts' Sana Tufail made a late move in the standings to finish as Runner-Up. Sue Curtin, also of Massachusetts, captured the Tournament Division and Senior Division trophies with a 9-over 225.
Smith ended the event with a 7-under 209. She is the first junior to win the event since Rhode Island’s Anna Grzebian in 2003 and the first teenager to do so since Rhode Island’s Samantha Morrell accomplished the feat in 2010.
“It’s my first ever pretty big tournament win so I’m really happy,” Smith said.
Though she held a significant lead for much of the competition, Smith didn’t let the advantage alter her strategy.
“I just kind of stuck to the game plan of playing my own game,” she said. “Obviously going into today there’s a little bit more pressure since it’s the final day of the tournament and I had a bit of a bumpy start, but I was able to turn it around still play pretty good today.”
Smith’s Day 3 performance was highlighted by a string of three birdies on the front nine — capped off with an eagle on the par-4 7th hole — and two straight birdies on holes 17 and 18 to secure the win.
Her final score, a 7-under 209, was the best 54-hole mark in the championship since Grzebian recorded a 206 in 2006.
Tufail shot a 5-over 221 en route to her Runner-Up finish after surging on the back nine. She shot a 34 on holes 10 through 18, the best back-nine score of the day.
She again preached “damage limitation” as the key to her success throughout the championship, though she feels she had room for improvement on her play earlier in the event.
“I’m getting better the second and third rounds but I think it’s just being able to start off the first round better,” she said. “And again, that may be constant preparation, learning the course a bit better in the practice rounds, knowing where to be and where not to be, but I’m definitely very happy with the way my game is trending.”
Tufail tied with Massachusetts native Molly Smith for the second-best Round 3 score with an even-par 72, one stroke back of Morgan Smith.
Molly Smith's 72, a five-stroke improvement from the second round, moved her into a tie for third with the University of Maryland's Angela Garvin, another Massachusetts competitor, at 7 over.
The Legends Division champion was Vermont's Elizabeth Walker, who finished the championship with a 37-over 253. Vermont's Reggie Parker made a valiant comeback attempt with an 82 in the round, the best mark in the division on Wednesday, but could not overcome a six-stroke deficit from the first and second rounds. Walker also defeated 2021 Legends Division winner Kibbe Reilly of Rhode Island, who shot a 42-over 258 and finished third.
"It was great," Walker said. "I'm excited to have been the best 65-and-over."
Curtin said she “surprised herself” at the championship, which marked her return to competition after a bout with COVID-19 that forced her to withdraw from multiple tournaments.
“I just really tried to be patient with myself and was really fortunate to end up on the right end of it,” she said.
After ending the first round on Monday with a solid lead, Curtin had to spend parts of Rounds 2 and 3 fending off Senior Division runner-up Pamela Kuong of Massachusetts and third-place finisher Debbie Johnson of Connecticut.
“I knew going into today Pam and Deb were gonna be really hard,” she said. “They weren’t just gonna hand this to anyone, especially [with] the number of times I’ve played against Pam. She’s such a good player and such a good competitor and she’s never gonna let up. I went into today knowing that, I knew I had to work pretty hard for this and I think that’s what pushed me and I just really tried to stay as patient as possible.”
Kuong finished two strokes back of Curtin with an 11-over 227 after nearly making birdie on her final hole. Johnson finished tied with Connecticut’s Jen Holland with 18-over 234s.
The low net score was shared by Johnson and Massachusetts' Joanne Gagnon at 6 over.
The championship will return to Connecticut next year for the first time since 2017.
WATERBURY, Vermont - The greens at the Country Club of Vermont are known to throw quite the challenge at competitors who dare face them, but Massachusetts' Morgan Smith of Vesper Country Club stayed the course Tuesday to take an 8-stroke lead heading into the final round of competition at the New England Women’s Amateur Championship.
Smith finished with a 3-under 69 for the second day in a row to put her 6 strokes under for the championship, where she's also the only player who remains below par. Her second-round performance included 3 back-nine birdies, giving her a round-best 34 on the back half.
"I gave myself a lot of good looks, a couple that didn't land today but I did make some which is good," Smith said. "You have to be smart out there. You have to stay on your toes because one bad shot here, it gets pretty bad. You have to take your safer lines and play aggressive to those safer lines."
Massachusetts' Sana Tufail of Southborough Golf Club also recorded a 69 to tie Smith for the best round score, giving her a 9-stroke improvement between Days 1 and 2, the biggest chance out of all players at the top of the leaderboard.
"I think it was learning the course," Tufail said. "Damage limitation is definitely key, that you can pick up the birdie opportunities but sometimes if you're in trouble and you make a bogey, you just accept it and you move on."
Tufail now sits in fourth, 3 strokes back of Massachusetts golfers Shannon Johnson and Angela Garvin, who are tied for second at 2 over. Johnson was the only player other than Smith and Tufail to finish under par on Tuesday.
Catie Schernecker and Molly Smith, who are also Massachusetts natives, are in the hunt at 7 over through two rounds.
In the Tournament Division, leader Sue Curtin of Massachusetts' Boston Golf Club narrowly held off fellow Bay State competitor Pamela Kuong of Charles River Country Club to maintain her position atop the division by one stroke.
Curtin entered the day with a comfortable lead but spent much of the afternoon in a back-and-forth battle with Kuong, who shot a division-leading 3-over 75 during the round. After rolling in two birdies during the round, a double bogey on the 18th hole put Curtin at a 6-over 78 for the afternoon. Heading into Wednesday, Curtin is seven strokes above par, while Kuong is eight over.
Also knocking on the door are Connecticut golfers Debbie Johnson, who is 11 over par, and Jen Holland, who is one stroke behind Johnson. Holland has a six-stroke advantage over the next lowest-scoring competitors, Massachusetts' Melissa Hem of Dedham Country & Polo Club and Vermont's Becky Montgelas of Ekwanok Country Club.
Curtin and Kuong lead the Senior Division as well. At the front of the pack in the Legends Division are Elizabeth Walker of Vermont with a 25-over 169 and Kibbe Reilly of Rhode Island with a 26-over 170.
WATERBURY, VT – With the only under par round of the day, Morgan Smith of Vesper Country Club in Massachusetts, has set herself up with a 4-stroke lead at the start of the New England Women’s Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Vermont.
The 18-year old carded 6 birdies in her opening round, but the story of the day was her climb out of a 3-hole slump of bogeys on the front nine to bring her back into the red by the end of the day.
“I thought I played very well today,” said Smith. “It’s a tricky golf course with fast greens. You have to miss in the right places and get the ball on the right tear of the greens or it’s very tricky. I swung well and hit a couple key shots and I made a good amount of birdies which helps.”
Throughout the round, Smith kept her composure and managed her game without being too worried about the numbers. “The wind was a lot stronger on the front I thought and it was easy to just get a little of track. I didn’t take the bogeys personally because the misses weren’t that off they just got up in the wind and it knocked it down so I just shook it off.”
Smith attributed her putting to being one of the bright spots for her today. “I putted pretty good too, obviously more could have dropped but I lagged some long ones close and made a few 5-8 footers that made a difference.”
Heading into tomorrow, Smith knows just how important it is to not get too far ahead of herself with the lead that she has. “Going into tomorrow obviously there is still a lot of golf left to play, just going to stick with my game plan- fairways and greens and trying to give myself as many good looks as possible.”
There are several familiar Massachusetts amateurs at the top of the leaderboard, including her younger sister Molly Smith. The Bay State contingent makes up nine of the top ten spots after 18-holes. 2020 Champion, Megan Buck, sits tied for sixth and just inside her are three of the four past Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Champions, Angela Garvin, Shannon Johnson (2018 & 2019 NE Women's Amateur Champion), and Catie Schernecker.
In the Senior Division, Sue Curtin of Boston Golf Club in Massachusetts, also has a comfortable 4-stroke lead, carding a 1-over 73 on the day. Rounding out the top three is a tie for second at 5-over by Jen Holland from Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Connecticut and Pamela Kuong of Charles River Country Club in Massachusetts.
There are two tee sets in the New England Women's Amateur Championship. The Championship tee is a gross-only competition played from approximately 5700 - 6000 yards (yardages subject to change). The Overall Champion, Runner-Up, and Junior Champion will be awarded from this tee set. The Tournament tee is a gross & net competition played from approximately 5600 - 5800 yards (yardages subject to change). The Senior & Legend Champion will be awarded from this tee.
After tomorrow’s round, the field will be cut to the low 50 players (and ties) after 36-holes. The 50 players will be made up of a prorated number of players from each tee set based on the number of players registered.
The host site of this year’s Championship, the Country Club of Vermont, is set in Vermont’s Green Mountains in the valley between the Worcester and Mansfield Mountain ranges. The scenic 18-hole course was designed by Canadian architect and amateur golfer Graham Cooke in 1998. In addition to having a front nine “reminiscent of the Irish Links, it’s known for its bent grass greens, tees and fairways framed by blue grass rough and outlined by native fescues.