Rory Weinfurther (VSGA photo)
By Arthur Utley
As it was at the VSGA Men’s Amateur Championship, a junior golfer has been crowned champion at the 94th VSGA Women’s Amateur Championship.
Rory Weinfurther, 17, of Midlothian, Va., defeated Old Dominion University women’s golf coach Mallory Hetzel, 32, 1up, Thursday afternoon at Princess Anne Country Club.
The championship match went the 18-hole distance for the first time since 2015 when Abby Portyrata defeated Lauren Greenlief 1 up.
“I don’t even know if it’s sunk in yet. I couldn’t stop smiling when I got off the green. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Weinfurther said. “Right now I feel honored. I feel accomplished. This is one of the biggest tournaments for the state. It just feels great knowing that I got to the semifinals last year, but this year, to win it, it’s awesome.
“My main focus today was definitely to hit fairways, hit greens, give myself good opportunities for birdies. I think I accomplished that goal most of the day. Towards the end there I also stayed calm. I took deep breaths. I told myself ‘don’t overthink it. I’ve been doing this all day. Just keep it up’ and it worked in my favor.”
Weinfurther was the 13th seed based on two days of stroke-play qualifying. Hetzel was the third seed.
The championship match featured stellar golf from Weinfurther, a senior at St. Catherine’s in Richmond who has committed to the University of Richmond, and Hetzel, who has won seven career Carolinas Golf Association tournament titles including back-to-back Carolinas Women’s Match Play titles in 2014-2015 before she became ODU’s coach in 2016.
Hetzel logged three birdies and no bogeys, and Weinfurther carded three birdies and a bogey through 16 holes.
Hetzel rolled home a seagoing 50-foot birdie putt on the second hole to go 1-up.
“It’s the second hole. That was my thinking. There’re 16 more holes that I have a chance to make that up,” Weinfurther said. “That was a great putt though.”
Hetzel birdied the fifth to go 2-up before Weinfurther answered with a birdie on the par-3 7th hole. Weinfurther‘s bogey on the par-3 ninth put her in a 2-down hole. Both players birdied the par-5 10th before Weinfurther cut her deficit to 1-down with a birdie on the par-3 11th.
Hetzel sank a 12-foot par putt at the 16th for an unexpected up and down out of a bunker, and Weinfurther missed a shorter putt for birdie to keep Hetzel 1-up.
The match turned at the par-3 17th where, after Weinfurther’s tee shot wound up short of the green, Hetzel tugged her tee shot into the water guarding the front of the green. That led to a double bogey and allowed Weinfurther to tie the match.
At the par-5 18th, Weinfurther hit her third shot 8 feet from the hole. Hetzel drove in the rough, pulled her second shot into pine straw behind trees and didn’t have a shot at the green for her third. She hit it to the right of the green and pitched her fourth shot to just inside Weinfurther’s ball.
Weinfurther missed her birdie try to win the match, but Hetzel missed her par putt that would have extended the match.
“I’m so bummed. I’m just gutted. I can’t believe that I screwed up that bad on the last two holes. I really wanted it, and I felt like when she missed the green on 17, I felt like I was going to stuff one in there and make a two and win it,” Hetzel said. “That’s how it goes. You’ve got to execute till the end. It’s a championship match. You have to anticipate good golf. That’s really what stinks about it because she and I played outstanding the whole day.
“It’s a bummer that I played those last two so poorly and just gave it to her. It would have been nice for one of us to make a birdie or something and finish like that. It’s kind of what the match deserved, but that’s golf and I’ve been playing it longer than she’s been alive so I know how it works.
“What I take from this is I can still slap it around a little bit. Maybe not as good as I once was, but it’s been a lot of fun, and I was really happy to be in the championship match and have a shot.”
View results for VSGA Women's Amateur
ABOUT THE VSGA Women's Amateur
Match play tournament with 36-hole on-site stroke play
qualifying. The low 16 qualifiers advance to match
Open to female golfers of all ages. Participants must
hold an active GHIN number issued by a licensed VSGA
Member Club in good standing.
View Complete Tournament Information