Alexa Pano (L) and runner-up Courtney McKim (Jones Doherty photo)
By Steve Waters of the Palm Beach Post
Alexa Pano said playing in the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship at Coral Ridge Country Club always has her in a good mood.
And it’s not just because she usually goes back to her Lake Worth home with a trophy.
Pano, 15, won her second straight Amateur division title and her third in the last four years, defeating Courtney McKim of Raleigh, N.C., 4 and 3, on a blustery, sometimes rainy Friday morning in the 88th edition of the prestigious tournament.
“It feels pretty good,” said Pano, who won the Amateur First Flight title when she was 9. “I always feel happy when I’m playing in this golf tournament. To start off the year with a win is a great start.
“It’s really nice to come back to defend. Every tournament, my goal is to win, so to repeat is really nice.”
In the Senior Championship division, top-seeded Judith Kyrinis of Thornhill, Ontario, defeated Corey Weworski of Carlsbad, California, on the first extra hole.
Down by three holes, Kyrinis won 13 and 15 with pars, and sent the match into overtime by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. She and Weworski returned to the first hole, where Kyrinis sank another 15-footer for birdie and the victory.
“I just made them at the right time. I’ve really been putting well all week,” said Kyrinis, a former U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion who birdied the final hole last year to win the Canadian Mid-Amateur and Senior Women’s Championship. “I knew anything could happen on some of those back-nine holes.”
In the Senior First Flight, Therese Quinn of Jacksonville defeated Natalie McNicholas of Naples, 2 up. In the Senior Second Flight title match, Mimi Hoffman of Springfield, Va., beat Mo Sheehan of Grayslake, Ill., 2 up.
McKim, 29, who runs the corporate real estate division of a medical company, went back and forth with Pano over the first seven holes. Pano sank an 8-foot par-saving putt to win the first hole, but McKim won the next two holes with pars to go 1 up.
“It was a bit of a struggle in the beginning figuring out the wind,” Pano said. “I kind of found a rhythm toward the middle of the round.”
Pano hit a lovely pitch to the par-5 fourth green and sank the birdie putt to square the match, and the players halved the next two holes with pars. McKim went ahead with a great birdie of her own after pitching her third shot to about five feet from the pin on the par-5 seventh hole.
McKim’s tee shot on the par-3 eighth landed in thick rough next to a bunker and the ball came out sideways and rolled to the bottom of the two-tiered green. McKim pitched the ball from there close to the hole, but Pano, whose tee shot landed on the top tier, two-putted for a par to pull even.
A turning point came on the long, par-4 ninth hole. Pano’s tee shot kicked into a bush and she had to take an unplayable and a one-shot penalty. She dropped the ball in the right rough, then hit a 3-wood 225 yards that ended up four feet from the flag. McKim, who also reached the green in three, missed her par putt and Pano made hers to take a 1-up lead.
“She played an unbelievable shot after taking an unplayable,” McKim said. “Hats off to her on that. That’s just crazy good.”
“Being able to save par definitely shifted the momentum my way and carried over to the back nine,” Pano said. “It was probably the best shot of the day and one I’ll never forget.”
McKim bogeyed the 10th after hitting into a fairway bunker – “I struggled with my driver all day,” she said – and coming up short of the green with her second shot to go 2 down. Pano then won her fourth straight hole, making birdie at the par-5 11th after her 70-yard pitch settled three feet from the hole.
Pano’s tee shot at the par-3 12th plugged in a bunker and McKim won the hole with a two-putt par. But Pano went back to 3 up with a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th, and her two-putt par on the 14th gave her a four-hole lead with four to play.
At the par-4 15th, McKim’s approach landed about 15 feet from the hole while Pano’s went over the green. But she chipped to within 18 inches, and after McKim missed her birdie try, Pano rolled in the short par putt to close out the match.
“I knew I had to get it tight. Especially with Courtney having a birdie putt,” said Pano, who had three birdies and three bogeys in 15 holes. “To be around even par for those holes, especially in that wind, was pretty good.”
And she’s got another trophy to prove it.
ABOUT THE Jones/Doherty Women's Amateur
The third event on the "Orange Blossom" circuit of
ladies events in Florida, with an illustrious list of past
including Patty Berg, JoAnne Carner, Babe Zaharias
Marlene Stewart Streit, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle
Goetze, Charley Hull and Lexi Thompson.
consists of two divisions (Women's and Senior
Women's) playing an 18-hole qualifying for
match play flights in each division as follows:
Championship Flight of 16, First Flight of 16, Second
View Complete Tournament Information