Courtesy of Rhode Island Golf Association
had enough. She needed to get away.
“I have a little bit of scar tissue from the last time I played competitive golf,” said Brooks. “I wanted to get back out here. Deep down I didn’t want to, but I knew I had to.”
In Brooks’ last competitive round of golf at the 2019 Carolinas Women’s Amateur, she shot 100.
“It was an out of body experience for me,” said Brooks, 27, of Newport. “Mentally it was so hard for me. I wanted to come out here and prove to myself that I can still play competitively. Tournament competition is so much different. I needed to get that feeling again.”
The 2021 Rhode Island Women’s Amateur would be that fresh start. Wanumetonomy Golf and Country Club, her home club, was hosting, and she told herself she had to play. Members at the club encouraged her.
A courageous yet important decision.
Brooks, aided by her course knowledge and long drives, claimed the #RIWomensAm Friday in a 1-up victory over 2017 Champion and No. 2 seed Addy Douglas at Wanumetonomy (par 73, 5,487 yards).
“It means everything to win this event,” said Brooks, who played college golf at Elon University in North Carolina. “I am over the moon right now. It hasn’t sunk in. Personally, for me to be able to see that I can still play the game is big for me. Whether I compete more or not, it was a lot of fun.”
At the turn, Brooks had a 2-up lead on Douglas, who plays out of Newport Country Club. But Douglas, a rising junior at Fairfield University in Connecticut, won No. 10 (par 4, 328 yards) with birdie and No. 12 (par 3, 153 yards) with par to tie the match.
But then Brooks won Nos. 13 (par 4, 324 yards), 14 (par 4, 314 yards) and 15 (par 5, 352 yards) to get the match to dormie with three holes to play.
None bigger than No. 14, where she rolled in a 30-footer for birdie, her longest make of the week to get back to 2-up.
“When you make a putt to win a hole like that late in a match it offers huge momentum,” said Brooks. “In some of my matches, I lost steam on the back nine. I needed to be more aggressive today and I was proud that I was. My putter cooperated as well. When I don’t practice a lot, my putter gets shaky because I don’t trust it.”
Brooks would bogey Nos. 16 (par 5, 446 yards) and 17 (par 3, 146 yards). She had to take a drop from a penalty area on No. 16 and three-putted No. 17. A two-putt par from 20 feet on No. 18 (par 4, 338 yards) would close out Douglas, who missed a 30-footer to extend the match.
“I didn’t have my best game like I did for the last few days,” said Douglas, 20, of Newport. “My ball striking wasn’t that good. I struggled to hit the ball close to the hole, but I am OK with it. I had a blast playing with Emily. I would have loved to get another title, but it just didn’t work out for me today. There will be other opportunities.”
Brooks wasn’t even sure she would make match play. She qualified after shooting 84 and was the No. 8 seed.
“I was shocked that I made it to the Final after how I started the week,” said Brooks. “I was sitting in the bar on Monday afternoon wondering if I was even going to make match play. I felt pretty good. I wanted to stay in the moment and not lose my composure.”
All week long, Brooks played in the presence of numerous Wanumetonomy members and staffers that followed her around and offered her support in her return to competitive golf.
Golf can be a lonely game when things aren’t how you want them to be. Brooks was never alone this week.
“Wanumetonomy has such a great community,” said Brooks. “The number of members who took the time to come out and watch me this week was overwhelming. I am glad to able to bring the trophy back to the club.”
In a battle of Wanumetonomy members, Jane Lippincott defeated Nancy O’Neill in 19 holes for the President’s Bowl.
The President’s Bowl goes to the winner of the Net division of the #RIWomensAm.
“It means a lot to win this event at my home club,” said Lippincott, 63, of Jamestown. “Since the Men’s Rhode Island Amateur is here next year, I wanted to showcase the club for the Women since I am Board member.”
The only time Lippincott led in the match was at the conclusion of the 19th hole of the match, No. 1 (par 4, 300 yards) at Wanumetonomy. She won the hole with a bogey to secure the title. She rallied from three different 2-down deficits.
“It was nerve-racking out there today playing against Nancy,” said Lippincott, who has been a member at Wanumetonomy since 2005. “I have played with her so many times over the years and know she is a tough competitor. I got it together at the end. The important part for me was to play my own game. This is one of my greatest accomplishments in golf.”
by Dalton BalthaserView results for Rhode Island Women's Amateur