Megan Schofill wins the 2023 U.S. Women's Amateur (USGA Photo)
is a creature of habit. This week at Bel-Air Country Club, she made winning look routine.
The Auburn University graduate student became the first Tiger to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur, delivering a 4-and-3 victory on Sunday over longtime friend and Southeastern Conference rival Latanna Stone.
Schofill closed out the match with a dart on the par-4 33rd hole, a 6-iron from 165 yards to 8 feet which set up a winning par when Stone lipped out her 5-footer to stay alive.
“It's definitely a dream come true,” said Schofill, who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in her sixth attempt. “I’m definitely still in shock. I can't put it into words the emotions I'm feeling. It's just such an honor to be able to say I won here this year.”
Schofill played the equivalent of 5 under par with the usual match-play concessions, making eight birdies, none bigger than the back-to-back par breakers at the end of the morning 18 that gave her a 3-up lead and swung the match in her favor for good.
After a Stone three-putt on the 15th gave Schofill a 1-up advantage, the 22-year-old from Monticello, Fla., seized control of the match in a matter of 15 minutes.
First, it was a 55-foot birdie putt from the back of the green at the par-3 16th, then a 9-iron approach on the par-4 17th to within a foot for a conceded birdie and a 3-up advantage that she would take into the lunch break.
“I felt like that was huge going into the second 18,” said Schofill. “I felt like the momentum was on my side because I won 15, 16, 17. A lot can happen in 18 holes, so I was able to just keep it together.”
Stone, 21, of Riverview, Fla., immediately applied pressure in the afternoon with a winning birdie on the par-5 19th, but she could not get any closer the rest of the match. The putts that fell for her earlier in the week were burning edges on Sunday. She had three three-putts and several other birdie misses from inside 10 feet.
“I feel like we both played really good golf out there,” said Stone, who is entering her fifth year at LSU this fall. “Even though it didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to, I'm so happy and so grateful to be here, to get this opportunity and this experience.”
Stone, a graduate student at Louisiana State University, was also dealing with a nagging right calf strain that hampered both her walking and her ability to get through the ball all day. She moved gingerly through the entire match and was constantly playing from 25 to 30 yards behind Schofill.
Still, as she had shown all week, Stone hung tough and maintained a positive disposition while competing against her fellow Floridian and friend since eighth grade.
The two often walked down the fairway together and shared smiles and laughs, enjoying the experience of competing for a national championship.
In the morning 18, the players tied the first four holes before Stone drew first blood with a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fifth. Schofill swung the match in her favor with a wedge to 4 feet at the seventh and a conceded birdie at the par-5 eighth.
Stone drew even with a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th and maintained the tie with a clutch 20-foot par putt on the par-3 13th after finding the bunker with her tee shot.
In the afternoon, Stone birdied the par-4 24th to pull back within 2 down to give her a glimmer of hope, but Schofill slammed the door with back-to-back birdies on the par-4 25th and par-5 26th to extend her lead to 4 up.
WHAT THE CHAMPION RECIEVES
-A gold medal
-Custody of the Robert Cox Trophy for one year
-Exemption into the 79th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club
-Exemption into the next 10 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships, if eligible
-Exemptions into the 2024 Chevron Championship, AIG Women's British Open, and Amundi Evian Championship (must be an amateur)
-Invitation to the 2024 Augusta National Women’s Amateur
-Runner-up Latanna Stone is exempt into the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster (Pa.) C.C. (must remain an amateur) and the next three U.S. Women’s Amateurs. She also received a silver medal.
-The 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur will be the 10th USGA championship and second Women’s Amateur played at Southern Hills C.C. in Tulsa, Okla. Babe Didrikson Zaharias won the 1946 championship there.
-At age 22, Megan Schofill is the oldest champion of the U.S. Women's Amateur since Marcy Newton (also age 22) in 2000. She also is the first Floridian to win the title since Morgan Pressel in 2005.
-Schofill joins Virginia Derby Grimes (1998 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur) and Margaret Shirley Starosto (2014 Women’s Mid) as USGA champions from Auburn.
-In her championship run, Schofill played 114 holes in match play, winning 38 and losing 19.
-In reaching the championship match, Stone beat the Nos. 7, 10 and 25 players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and her five wins came against three of her 2022 USA Curtis Cup teammates (Amari Avery, Rachel Kuehn and Rachel Heck), the 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion (Yana Wilson) and the 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champion Thienna Huynh.
-Stone won the par-3 fifth hole five of the seven times she played it.
-Dave Podas, the director of golf at Bel-Air C.C., served as the referee for the morning round of the championship match. USGA Executive Committee member Kendra Graham was the referee for the afternoon round.