Lauren Greenlief (L), Marissa Mar (C) and Katie Miller (R) share medalist honors
HOUSTON, TX (November 12, 2017) - Lauren Greenlief shot a 4-under-par 68 on Sunday to share medalist honors with Katie Miller and Marissa Mar in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship on the par-72, 6,022-yard Cypress Creek Course at Champions Golf Club. Alll three players posted 36-hole scores of 2-under 142.
It is the third time in U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur history that three or more players were co-medalists. In 2009, four-time champion Meghan Stasi was among four players who ended up tied following two rounds of stroke play. Ellen Port, who has also won four Women’s Mid-Amateurs, and two other players shared medalist in 2002.
Greenlief, who won the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, matched the lowest 18-hole score in championship history. Dawn Woodard shot a 68 in the first round at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in Richmond, Texas, in 2005. Greenlief, who is competing in her 15th USGA championship, also eclipsed the competitive course record that was equaled yesterday when the first-round leaders each fired a 69.
“The game plan today was to be aggressive,” said Greenlief, whose bogey-free round included three of her four birdies on the inward nine. “Fire at pins and see if I could make some putts.”
Greenlief, 27, of Ashburn, Va., jump-started her record round with the putter by draining a 35-footer for birdie on No. 7. She later punched a 6-iron approach from the trees that ran up onto the green on the par-4 10th to within 20 feet to set up another birdie. Greenlief, the youngest winner in Women’s Mid-Amateur history, added birdie putts of 10 and 15 feet, respectively, on holes 14 and 16.
“I always want to play well and get a better seed,” said Greenlief, who offered that she is more clearly focused this year than when she was defending her title. “It makes match play a little easier, at least in the earlier rounds.”
The USGA relocated the championship from Quail Creek Country Club in Naples, Fla., to Champions Golf Club due to extensive flood damage from Hurricane Irma. The Women’s Mid-Amateur was originally scheduled to be played Oct. 7-12.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship 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, Nov. 16, starting at 9 a.m. CST.
Miller, 32, of Jeannette, Pa., and Mar, 25, of San Francisco, Calif., took different paths in earning medalist honors. Miller, who shared the first-round lead with Shannon Johnson, rallied on her second nine for a 1-over 73. She made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth and stuck a gap wedge to within 3 feet on the par-4 sixth.
Mar, who was a member of the Stanford University team from 2010-14 and opened with a 72, birdied both par 5s on the inward nine. She delivered a 4-hybrid to within 20 feet to set up an eagle attempt on No. 11 before holing a 10-foot putt at No. 13. After making bogey on the following hole, she regrouped with a birdie by hitting an 8-iron approach to within 15 feet on 15.
“It’s been a few years since college golf,” said Mar, who works in corporate development for a financial services company. “I have a whole new perspective on life. The expectations are way lower. I go to a 9-to-5 job every day. Getting to be out here is really fun.”
First-round co-leader Johnson, 34, of Norton, Mass., looked to be in control after a birdie on the par-5 fifth, her 14th hole of the day, provided her a three-stroke lead at 4 under overall. But last year’s Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up finished with three consecutive bogeys. Her approach shot went way right on No. 7, she three-putted the following hole and closed by missing a 10-foot par putt on the par-5 ninth.
“My whole thing is tempo and that’s where I get in trouble,” said Johnson, who lost to Julia Potter, 2 and 1, in last year’s final at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa. “It gets a little quick. I just got so out of rhythm.”
Johnson, who was last year’s co-medalist, and Kathy Kurata, 57, of Pasadena, Calif., each completed 36 holes at 1-under 143. Kurata made three birdies but failed to get up and down from the front greenside bunker on the par-4 18th, leading to a bogey.
Martha Leach, the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and the sister of three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy, finished at even-par 144 after recording a second-round 71 with three birdies. Leach, 55, of Hebron, Ky., is playing in her 29th Women’s Mid-Amateur, a championship record.
Tara Joy-Connelly, 44, of North Palm Beach, Fla., and Ashley Freeman, 30, of Houston, Texas, were one stroke back of Leach at 1-over 145. Joy-Connelly registered the seventh hole-in-one in the championship since 2002 when she aced the 180-yard, par-3 12th with a 4-hybrid en route to a 73. Freeman, who was an all-Big 12 Conference player at Texas A&M University, shot a second-round 72.
“I have had a client and family follow me,” said Freeman, who works as a tax manager for a local company and is playing in her first USGA championship since 2005. “You get to stay at home and take care of the dog. It’s comforting.”
Ket Preamchuen, 26, of Thailand, was tied for third after the opening with a 2-under 70 but slipped to a 79 in the second round. Preamchuen, who once competed on the Symetra Tour before regaining her amateur status, was derailed by a double bogey on No. 8 and a triple bogey on No. 17.
Stasi, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., comfortably reached match play for the 12th time in the 12 Women’s Mid-Amateurs in which she has played with a two-round total of 7-over 151. Potter, 30, of Indianapolis, Ind., the 2013 and 2016 champion, tallied scores of 77 and 73. Corey Weworski, 55, of Carlsbad, Calif., the 2004 winner, also advanced with rounds of 78 and 74.
Hana Kim, 35, of Los Angeles, Calif., and her sister, Ina, 34, of New York, N.Y., each advanced to match play. Hana had scores of 74 and 73, while Ina, the 2000 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up, followed a 71 with a 79.
Eight players tied for 58th place at 16-over 160, resulting in a playoff for the final five match-play berths. The playoff will start on Monday at 7 a.m. on Cypress Creek’s 10th hole. The Round-of-64 matches begin at 8 a.m.