CHOUDRANT, La. – All three Louisiana natives in the field won their first-round matches on Monday in the 29th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,061-yard, par-72 Squire Creek Country Club. Sarah Davison, 35, of Choudrant; Ashley Tonore, 38, of Monroe; and Kay Daniel, 44, of Covington, each advanced to Tuesday’s Round of 32.
Davison was locked into a close match from the start against Lauren Kuss, 25, of Zionsville, Ind. Davison owned a 1-up lead on the 18th hole, where both players missed the green with their approach shots. Kuss barely got her ball out of a greenside bunker and Davison hit a perfectly executed chip down a ridge to 3 feet. Only needing a halve to advance, the outcome seemed decided. However, Kuss buried a 55-foot putt, adding an unexpected element of stress to Davison’s putt, which she drained for the win.
“It made that 3-footer about 6 feet,” said Davison, who lives adjacent to the 17th hole at Squire Creek. “I think it helps to be pushed like this in the first one. It makes you stay on top of your game. It makes sure you take nothing for granted. It's only going to get harder from here.”
Tonore emerged victorious in a tight match against Amy Loughney, 29, of Hoboken, N.J., that included numerous momentum swings. Trailing by one on the eighth hole, Tonore faced a 45-foot par putt from the edge of the green with Loughney only facing 6 feet for par. Tonore sunk her putt and Loughney missed, squaring the match. With Tonore holding a 1-up lead through 13 holes, Loughney squared the match on No. 14 by holing out from an awkward stance in a bunker.
Tonore was again 1 down before birdieing the par-5 17th to send the match to the 18th hole, where she won with par in front of a sizable group of supportive locals. The Louisiana State University graduate and former University of Louisiana-Monroe women’s golf coach was appreciative.
“I really enjoy it when people come to watch,” said Tonore, who is competing in her first regional or national event since 2004. “It makes a difference when you have someone to play for and someone encouraging you. I'm really glad everyone came out.”
Daniel pulled ahead of 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, 53, of Carlsbad, Calif., on the third hole and never looked back en route to a 4-and-3 victory.
Weworski was the only one of the five previous Women’s Mid-Amateur champions in the bracket not to advance. Martha Leach (2009), 53, of Hebron, Ky., eliminated Claire Sheldon, 27, of Somerville, Mass., 4 and 2. Four-time champion Meghan Stasi (2006, 2007, 2010, 2012), 37, of Oakland Park, Fla., never trailed in her 7-and-6 win over 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team captain Robin Burke, 53, of Houston, Texas. Julia Potter (2013), 27, of Granger, Ind., beat Courtney McKim, 25, of Raleigh, N.C., 5 and 4. Defending champion Margaret Shirley, 29, of Roswell, Ga., posted a 6-and-5 win over Jordan Craig, 29, of Connellsville, Pa.
“I hit some pretty good shots and some pretty poor shots, but I made a lot of really good putts for par,” said Shirley. “I kind of did what I needed to do and just kind of hung in there.”
Stroke-play medalist Casey Ward, 25, of Canada, struggled in her match against Mimi Hoffman, 59, of Springfield, Va., shooting the equivalent of 14 over par through 16 holes, but advanced with a 3-and-2 victory.
“It was pretty ugly, but I got the job done,” she said. “Hopefully, tomorrow will be another story and I will play much better.”
Arguably the most exciting finish of the day came in the Whitney Britton-Leigh Klasse match. Britton, 25, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., trailed by three at the turn, but drew all square with wins on 16 and 17. Klasse, 56, of Woodbury, Minn., overshot the green with her approach on 18, but was actually closer than Britton, who found the green, but was 57 feet away. However, perhaps fittingly coming in the group following Kuss’ 55-footer, Britton put a good stroke on her left-to-right putt over a ridge and followed the line to almost will the ball in the hole. The ball dropped and Klasse missed her chip to give Britton the victory.
“I was just trying to get it close for a two-putt,” said Britton, who played at Oregon State University under her maiden name of French. “I wasn't putting well all day. I missed 5-, 6-footers all day. Apparently, I just needed to hit it farther away from the hole.”
In a matchup between Minnesota residents, Paige Bromen, 29, of Minneapolis, dug herself out of an early 3-down deficit against Olivia Herrick, 27, of Roseville. Trailing by two with three holes to play, Bromen turned it on to win the final three holes for a 1-up victory, including a near hole-out with her chip on 18.
“I knew I needed to start getting aggressive,” said Bromen. “I picked some more aggressive spots and my competitive nature started to come out and I was able to hit them where I wanted.”
Dawn Woodard, 41, of Greer, S.C., recorded the most lopsided win of the day, an 8-and-6 decision over Patty Moore, 65, of Charlotte, N.C. It was the first 8-and-6 win in the Women’s Mid-Amateur since 2010, when there were two in the Round of 64.
The field will be cut from 32 to eight on Tuesday, with the Round of 32 beginning at 8 a.m. CDT, followed by the Round of 16 at 1 p.m.
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.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.