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.