Kristina Wong is NY Women's State Champ

SYRACUSE, NY (July 9, 2009)--Vestal teenager Kristina Wong walked away with the Oak Hill Cup on Thursday after posting a three-day total of 216 to win the 80th Women’s Amateur Championship at Drumlins East. Wong, of Binghamton C.C., entered the final round with a one-stroke lead over three-time Women’s Amateur champion Christy Schultz but would never relinquish her lead en route to her first ever Women’s Amateur Championship. The 29 year-old Schultz would not be denied a trophy, however, as she claimed the first-ever Mid-Amateur title by a five-stroke advantage over Teresa Cleland, of Bellevue, C.C.

The #2 ranked junior in the country according to Golfweek has experienced many accomplishments in her short career. However, Wong says this win ranks as her best accomplishment yet. “I’ve had so many runner-up finishes that it feels good to finally win one,” says Wong. “It’s been frustrating in my last six events to not get it done so it felt really good to finally get that burden off my shoulder.”

Although stroke play was the new format, the 80th Women’s Amateur and Inaugural Mid-Amateur Championship had the old match play feel with Wong and Schultz battling through the back nine just one stroke apart. The final group of Wong, Schultz, and Mary Carmody, of Elm Tree G.C., all posted scores of 1-under-par on the front nine. On the par-4 10th, Schultz was able to save par after running her 40-foot birdie putt downhill and past the hole. Wong started the back with a two-putt bogey and the words “All Square” resurfaced with just eight holes to play. The two traded pars and bogeys until the 17th hole when Wong was able to build a two-stroke advantage after Schultz left her second shot short of the green while Wong stuck her approach three feet from the pin to make her first birdie since the 9th hole.

The 18-year-old Wong never felt a momentum swing until the 17th hole when she had a two-stroke lead with one to play. “The whole day I felt like I was grinding it out and battling with Christy because she was playing really well,” says Wong. “My mom mentioned that it had kind of a match play feel, but I didn’t want to think of it like that because I wanted to focus on my game and not other people’s because that’s when I can get ahead of myself.”

Wong would run into trouble on no. 15 and 16 but Schultz was unable to take advantage. Following her tee-shot that strayed ever so slightly left of the fairway, Wong’s approach clipped a tree which killed its momentum and dropped it straight in the fairway for a difficult third shot. She followed up the mishap with a wedge shot that hit the very edge of the green on the front side, setting up a difficult putt. Wong two-putted for bogey, but Schultz answered with a bogey after missing her up-and-down opportunity. “The 15th frustrated me because I thought I hit my second shot perfect, but it went a little long and off to the left,” says Schultz. “I knew I needed to make that up-and-down to put the pressure on her {Wong} but it didn’t happen.”

On the downhill par-3 waiting at the 16th, Wong originally pulled an 8-iron but felt extra wind coming in her direction so changed her mind and used a 7-iron which she missed long on the postage-stamp sized green. Schultz was next to tee off and also missed long after going with a 6-iron that hit the back edge of the green and rolled down. She missed long again on her second shot which rolled past the hole on the downward sloping 16th green and settled for a bogey to match Wong who carded a bogey after misjudging her chip on her second shot.

Schultz, who despite falling two strokes short of capturing her third straight Women’s Amateur title, was still pleased with her performance in the event. “I honestly felt really good about how I played. I thought my preparation for the tournament was very good in terms of practicing and everything,” says Schultz. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the way I played. I just got beat by a better player. She {Wong} has a really bright future ahead of her.” The three-time champion walked away with the Lancy Smith trophy, which was appropriately handed out for the first time by Lancy Smith, the seven-time NYSGA champion, who made the trek from Buffalo to hand out the award. Schultz, of Brook-Lea C.C., put together consistent rounds of 71-74-73 to best Cleland, who she played with during the first two days of the event.

The Rochester native has a few more tournaments lined up for the summer, including the Mid-Am qualifier at the end of August. Schultz competed in the Mid-Am, a USGA event, last fall in Ann Arbor, Michigan. However, a golf vacation is next on the agenda for Schultz, who will be traveling to Canada with her husband for the golf outing.

Meanwhile, Wong has a busy summer ahead of her with three more tournaments lined up before she heads west to start her freshman year at Stanford. Next week Wong will play in her last tournament as a junior before she travels to Tennessee for another Amateur event. Her final tune-up before she embarks on her first collegiate season as a Stanford Cardinal will be the U.S. Amateur.

Submitted by Kevin Solan
NYSGA Media Intern

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