Casey Ward of Canada (USGA)
CHOUDRANT, La. — Casey Ward, 25, of Canada, followed Saturday’s round of 2-over 74 with a 2-under 70 on Sunday to earn stroke-play medalist honors at the 29th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,061-yard, par-72 Squire Creek Country Club.
Ward is the second Women’s Mid-Amateur medalist from Canada and first since Mary Ann Hayward, the 2005 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, did so in 1998. Entering the day two strokes behind Sarah Davison, Ward posted four birdies and two bogeys on the day to record the low round of stroke play.
“I'm really excited. I didn't really have too many expectations coming into this week,” said Ward, the 2015 Ontario Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. “That's how I have approached things all summer, not going in with any expectations and just playing my game. It's nice to see my name at the top.”
Starting on the 10th hole, Ward started with three pars before birdieing the par-4 13th and par-4 15th holes. She was able to overcome Squire Creek’s difficult greens by consistently giving herself good birdie opportunities.
“I was in the right position all day, for the most part,” she said. “I had a lot of good looks at birdie. I only got a few to fall, but I was right on the edge all day.”
Finishing five strokes behind Ward and in second place is Lauren Greenlief, 25, of Oakton, Va., the youngest competitor in the field. Sitting 2 over through 10 holes, Greenlief, the 2015 Virginia Women’s Amateur runner-up, turned things around with an eagle on the 488-yard, par-5 11th and added another birdie on the par-4 14th.
“I played really solid all the way around,” said Greenlief. “I had a couple three-putts I didn't have yesterday, but making an eagle gets you going. That was the turning point where I started playing really well coming in.”
First-round leader Davison, 35, a Squire Creek member who lives adjacent to the 17th hole, finished third with a two-day total of 7-over 151. That was just fine for the 2015 Louisiana Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, who knows everything resets when match play begins on Monday at 9 a.m. CDT.
“I didn't putt as well as I did yesterday and when I missed a green, I left myself a difficult chip,” said Davison, who carded a 7-over 79 on Sunday. “But after yesterday, I knew I didn't have to come out and shoot another 72 to make match play. I knew I just had to come out and keep it respectable.”
All three Louisiana natives in the field finished in the top 10, as Ashley Tonore, 38, of Monroe, and Kay Daniel, 44, of Covington, tied for 10th at 11-over 155. They are joined by Mercedes Huarte, 30, of Argentina.
Defending champion Margaret Shirley, 29, of Roswell, Ga., and Katie Miller, 30, of Jeannette, Pa., tied for fourth at 8-over 152. Christina Proteau, 32, of Canada, a quarterfinalist last year, posted the biggest turnaround of the championship, shooting even par after posting an 87 on Saturday, easily qualifying for match play.
Four-time champion Meghan Stasi, 37, of Oakland Park, Fla., shot 3-over 75 to finish in solo sixth and give herself a chance at a fifth title. Stasi is joined in match play by former champions Martha Leach, 53, of Hebron, Ky., (2009); Julia Potter, 27, of Granger, Ind., (2013); and Corey Weworski, 53, of Carlsbad, Calif., (2004).
A Monday-morning playoff will determine the final seven spots in the 64-player match-play field. Eleven players will compete for those spots, beginning at 8 a.m. CDT. Among the 11 players in the playoff is 1997 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Robin Burke, 53, of Houston, Texas, who will also serve as the captain for the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team, and Sri Lanka’s Thuhashini Selvaratnam, 39, who was runner-up to Stasi at the 2006 Women’s Mid-Amateur.
The 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship is open to female amateur golfers with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 9.4. It consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday, Oct. 8.