Wood and Watkins win NYSGA Senior Am Titles

CLIFTON SPRINGS, NY (Aug. 17, 2011) -- The 59th Senior Women’s Championship and 5th Women’s Super Senior Championship produced different results in the two divisions: there was one first-time champion – senior Carina Watkins – and one player, super senior Sandra Wood, winning her third straight title.

Neither victory came easy. Watkins held off a late surge from a former champion, and Wood needed five playoff holes to shake her competition.

Watkins, in her first year eligible, held off a second-day charge from 2008 Champion Kim Kaul. Kaul shot a 74, the low-round of the championship, but Watkins’ 76 proved to be enough to win.

Watkins shot a 75 on the first day, and ended with a 36-hole total of 151. Kaul had a 79 on the opening 18 holes, and totaled a 153.

Watkins was nothing but smiles when she was confirmed the champion.

“It feels awesome, this is unbelievable,” said Watkins. ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous. I was really nervous this morning, and in the first nine I was four-over. I just tried to tell myself to calm down and trust my swing, and I played well on the back.”

Watkins made four-bogeys on that front nine, but she steadied herself just enough on the back.

“I just talked myself into playing better, and I had a few big up-and- downs,” said Watkins, who had only one bogey on the back, as well as her lone birdie (number 18). “I missed the green on 12 – the par-3 – and I got up-and- down. Then I got up and-down on 13 and 14. That was big.”

In front of her, Kaul was putting together the best round of the week, but Watkins had tunnel vision going down the stretch.

“I didn’t know what Kim and the others were doing in the group ahead of us,” said Watkins, who set a top-five finish as her goal prior to the championship. “I was just thinking, ‘one shot at a time.’ I was just focusing on my own game.”

Kaul put together a great effort, but in the end, was just short. Her 74 included three birdies and five bogeys. She three- putted number one for bogey, but shortly after she got some momentum.

“I made a great putt on three, a long, curling putt,” said Kaul, who birdied the hole. “That really got me going, that got my putter confident. That got the round going. I just played pretty steady.”

Kaul added that she got more comfortable with Clifton Springs’ tricky greens as the round went on, but couldn’t capitalize in the most pressure-packed moments.

“I gave myself chances on the last two holes to make birdie, but couldn’t make the putts.”

Clifton Springs’ own Lynn Quinn (second round 76) tied with Susan Kahler (second round 77) for third. The two carded 36-hole totals of 154.

The Super Senior division turned into a back-and-forth showdown between day-one leader Sandra Wood, and Sue Sims, who entered the second day trailing Wood by one stroke.

It looked like Wood wouldn’t have to sweat it when Sims bogeyed her first three holes. But Wood’s four-stroke lead evaporated when she made back-to-back double bogeys on five and six (both par 4s).

The drama continued when Wood bogeyed 14, putting Sims ahead by one. That lead was short lived when Sims doubled the par-4 15th and Wood managed a par. Sims made a clutch birdie one 17 to tie it up once again.

Then onto 18.

“I three putted the last hole for a bogey, and I knew I needed to make that second putt,” said Wood. “ (Sims) made a six foot bogey putt to force the playoff. I was so tired at that point I didn’t even let it worry me.”

With 36-hole totals of 158, the two were at a stalemate after the first four playoff holes. Starting at number one, the two went bogey, par, bogey par, before something finally gave on hole 41.

“I hit a decent drive, but then hit a wood into the bunker,” said Wood. “I had a decent lie, but it was still in the bunker. I chunked it out to about 27 feet from the hole, and I sunk it.”

When Sims bogeyed the hole, Wood had her third straight Super Senior Championship. And she really had to earn this one.

“I can’t believe it, I really can’t,” said Wood, who gave much credit her caddy, and husband, Dan Wood. “I’m 71, and to go five extra holes – I was tired after 18. I am just over the moon.”

Throughout this tournament, and her previous Super Senior Ams, Wood said her goal is to always break 80. She had a 79 in second round –so the magic number was magical once again

“My husband told me no double bogeys and no three-putts and I’d be fine,” said Wood, who coaches Ithaca College’s Women’s golf team with her husband. ”Well, I had five three putts and two double bogeys, but I broke 80.”

And the extra holes weren’t so bad once the trophy was in hand.

“Of all the years I’ve played golf, I’ve never had to do this many holes in a playoff, so that was fun.”

ABOUT THE New York Women's Senior Amateur

These championships (run concurrently) are two-day, 36-hole stroke play competitions with no cut. Entries will be limited to female amateur golfers who enjoy membership privileges at Clubs belonging to the New York State Golf Association, or are NYSGA Associate Members. Entrants must have reached their 50th birthday.

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