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.