Shannon Johnson (Massachusetts Golf Association Photo)
Blue skies and sunshine were battling to break through, but ultimately it was the clouds and rain that dominated day one of the Massachusetts Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship for the Keyes Cup at Cape Cod National Golf Club.
In the Championship Division, the top of the leaderboard is again populated with familiar names. Two years ago at this championship, the top of the leaderboard after Round 1 read: Pamela Kuong
, Megan Buck
, & Shannon Johnson
. This year, the same three are at the top, with Mary Chamberlain
The Keyes brings together the best Massachusetts female golfers over the age of 25 annually. The Championship Division identifies a winner over 36 holes of play, the Tournament Division does as well for players with a Handicap Index up to 18.0. The event also includes an 18-hole Flighted Division for players H.I. 14.0 and higher.
Shannon Johnson is a four-time champion of this event, so it was a surprise to no one to see her tied for the lead after one round of play. Battling on-and-off rain throughout the round, Johnson credited plenty of practice with the rain slicks this summer for her comfort in the elements.
“Anytime we have to put this rain gear on, it’s kind of a pain, but we should be used to it at this point with all the rain we’ve had, which I think I am,” Johnson told Mass Golf, who won this same championship in similarly rainy conditions in 2021 at Berkshire Hills Country Club. “It’ll be nice to see the sunshine [tomorrow].”
In shooting an opening round 75, Johnson made a healthy mix of birdies, pars, and bogeys. Most important, she managed to keep big numbers off the card. After a beautiful drive on 18, Johnson hit an approach with her unmistakably tempo; that’s enough to make any golfer jealous. The shot set up one final birdie look. And while the putt didn’t fall, Johnson is getting more comfortable by the minute at Cape Cod National.
“I hit the ball pretty well today, much better than I did last week at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur,” she said. “There were just a couple of silly mistakes I keep making. Hopefully, we can clean that up tomorrow.
Shooting a matching 75 was Pamela Kuong, who also managed to avoid any big numbers. While many view Kuong as one of the top competitors in the field, she was honored and excited to be competing alongside the other big names in the field.
“[Winning] It would be amazing, especially when you look at the depth of the field,” Kuong said. “Any time Shannon, Megan, Mary Chamberlain, Natalie, and all those guys are here, it’s always tough. I think my goal is that I just want to hit good shots and feel good about my putting and my game leading into next week.”
With good friend Doug Clapp caddying for her, Kuong feels like her game is in a good spot, just one week ahead of next week’s U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur Championship — an event Kuong will be competing in.
“There’s no pressure when Doug’s there. He helps me out a lot,” Kuong said.
Defending champion Megan Buck shot 78 in the opening round and trails the leaders by just three. Talking post-round, Buck put to bed any thoughts of added pressure coming with last year’s championship.
“I don’t think I had any more nerves,” Buck said. “I think it gave me confidence knowing that I can do it. I was able to do it last year, so I came in feeling pretty confident.”
Anyone making their first trip around Cape Cod National can easily get tripped up by the many penalty areas, ones both visible and hidden. With Monday being Buck’s first time around, she’s excited to attack on Tuesday with more knowledge about the course.
“This was the first time I played the course, I didn’t get a practice round or anything. So it’s definitely tricky to believe some of the lines off the tee. Now I’m excited to play it tomorrow.”
Cape Cod native Mary Chamberlain rounds out the top four. Her opening round 78 matched Buck and also kept her just three back of the lead.
Chamberlain’s opening nine was a bit of a rollercoaster, but it certainly didn’t lack excitement.
Tournament Division (Handicap Index up to 18.0)
After an impressive opening round 80, Cheryl Krueger holds a three-shot lead in the Tournament Division over Barb Hecimovic. Krueger was the only player in the Tournament Division to make a birdie on No. 15. That, paired with another birdie on No. 7 and seven pars, helped Krueger build the 3-shot lead after one round of play.
Three others are on their heels, as Sharon Hayes, Irene Haley, and Cathy Flatley all shot matching 84s.
The Tournament Division players will tee it up again on Tuesday in the Final Round at Cape Cod National.
Flighted Division (Handicap Index 14.0 or Higher)
Year after year, the Flighted Division brings the women’s golfing community together for a day of late summer fun. This year was no different on the Cape, as 17 players teed it up. While they were forced to battle the rain on Monday, they did so with smiles on their faces.
Cathy Burgess made a pair of pars to start and close her opening nine, shooting an impressive 42. Burgess started to play on the back nine the same way, with another couple of pars. After battling the difficult stretch of Holes Nos. 12-15, she steadied the ship, closing with two more pars and a final bogey.
With a score of 89, Burgess easily captured the Gross Division of the Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, edging out Kate Collins and Christine Veator.
“It feels amazing. I’m shocked!” Burgess said. “I had a really good front nine. I felt good with a 42 and ran into some trouble on the back nine. I don’t know what happened. I had four really bad holes, and then I felt better about the fact that I was able to get a couple of pars before I finished.”
In the Flighted Division (Net) competition, this year’s winner is Vicki Malatesta, who shot a net score of 78.View results for Grace Keyes Cup