Molly Smith (Massachusetts Golf Photo)
DEDHAM, Massachusetts – After two days of battling the grueling challenge that Dedham Country & Polo Club presents, it’s safe to say the 32 players who have advanced to match play in the 120th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship are relieved that they can now shift their focus to battling one another.
Morning rain showers put a damper on the start of Tuesday, but they faded in the afternoon making life a bit easier for those starting later. That was the case for Westford’s Molly Smith as she separated from the field and earned medalist honors at 2-under-par 68 in the second round for a total of 3-over.
For the second straight year, Smith will be joined in match play by her older sister Morgan Smith, 19, the defending champion, and younger sister Maddie Smith, 15, who won the Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship two weeks ago.
“It definitely feels good to have played well today,” said Molly Smith, 18, who will attend University of Central Florida this fall. “After yesterday seeing myself playing well on this golf course, it shows that I know I can do it going forward.”
Top-seeded Smith will lead off the slate of matches in the Round of 32 at 7:30 Wednesday morning as she faces Jillian Johnson (Hatherly Country Club). The winners advance to the Round of 16 in the afternoon. Quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Thursday, and the 18-hole final match begins 7:30 Friday morning.
Smith made a pair of bogeys early in the round but played the final 15 holes 4-under, including a bogey-free back nine. Smith closed out the front with a birdie on the 9th and made her last on the Reverse Redan par-3 17th, becoming the only golfer to shoot under par.
“It was raining during my warmup, but it made the greens a little bit softer, so [it was] a little bit easier to hit it close today than yesterday,” Smith said.
Smith also had some praise for her younger sister as the family continues to make its mark in the state golf scene.
“This is the first summer where she’s committed to trying to play competitive golf well,” Molly said of Maddie. “She’s definitely stepped the game up.”
Team meetings for the University of Virginia women’s golf team begin Friday, but if all goes right for Needham’s Rebecca Skoler (Pine Brook Country Club) she’ll be at Dedham instead. Skoler, the 2022 runner-up, hasn’t made many appearances on the local golf scene this summer. But she didn’t want to return to Charlottesville without giving it another go in the championship.
“I told my coach I have to play the Mass Women’s Amateur,” said Skoler, who shot 75 Tuesday with a bogey-free stretch of 1-under on the front nine. “I’m happy to be out here and so close to home. It’s nice to have a bunch of family friends come out and watch this week. I love the local events so much, so this is always a privilege to be out here.”
Skoler has been right in the hunt in each of the past three years. Prior to last year’s final match appearance, Skoler was a semifinalist in 2020 and won medalist before falling in the quarterfinals in 2021.
“That’s definitely a big motivator for me,” Skoler said. “I haven’t gotten a win yet so that would mean the world to me. To be able to compete against such a strong field is really awesome.”
The rain hardly affected Mekhala Costello on Tuesday, as evidenced by the fact that she opted to go sans-rain gear (minus gloves). With two solid days of ball striking, Costello shot 73-75–148 to advance to match play for the third straight year and earn a second straight top-five finish in stroke play.
It feels like this moment has been building all summer long for Costello. After this week, she’ll take a reprieve from golf as she begins her senior season on the Canton High School girls soccer team.
“I kind of have nothing to lose,” Costello said after Tuesday’s round. “I was just like ‘All right, I’m just going to go after more pins.’ I made a few up and downs and then I was able to get a lot of birdie chances, which was nice. It was more stress free than yesterday, which is good.”
Costello hasn’t made it past the Round of 32 the past two years, but heeding some advice from those closest to her, she hopes to make a more distant run this year.
“I’ll definitely try to stay steady and not get too up and too down during that round, so hopefully it goes better than the past two years,” Costello said.View results for Massachusetts Women's Amateur
ABOUT THE Massachusetts Women's Amateur
18-hole stroke play qualifier for 2 match play flights of
32 players. Must have a current established GHIN
handicap from a Massachusetts Golf Association
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