Massachusetts Women's Mid-Amateur: Shannon Johnson adds to her illustrious career
Shannon Johnson (Massachusetts Golf Association Photo)
Shannon Johnson (Massachusetts Golf Association Photo)

It was a three-horse race in the final group on a resplendent second day at the 73rd Massachusetts Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. After 36 holes, Shannon Johnson and Pam Kuong were dead even, while defending champion Megan Buck had locked up solo 3rd place with rounds of 78-76 to finish 10-over.

Johnson prevailed with a par on the first playoff hole, notching her fifth Mass Women’s Mid-Am title, which complemented her 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur title quite nicely. Meanwhile, Cheryl Krueger won the Tournament Division title by one stroke over Barb Hecimovich.

Though she went birdie-less in her final round, Johnson looked to be in control for much of the day, methodically plotting her way around the lush, rolling terrain of Cape Cod National.

She leaned on her metronomic swing to breeze around the course, carding just one bogey on her first 14 holes. She safely skirted National’s myriad hazards off the tee and neatly dotted the center of the rain-softened greens with her approach shots. Coronation seemed a certainty.

Alas, the game can speed up on even the steadiest of players. Holding a two-shot lead with just four holes to play, Johnson proceeded to bogey on Holes No. 15 and 16, then double bogey No. 17, while Kuong played the same stretch in two-over, meaning the two were tied heading to No. 18.

Even after her win, Johnson was disappointed in her closing stretch: “You know, I kind of had a bitter taste in my mouth the last few holes. Just kind of a bad, quick swing on the 15th hole led to a bogey, and then three putted the next hole.”

As was the case all day, Johnson was a good forty yards farther up the fairway with her tee ball. But Kuong, ever the cagey competitor, knocked her long approach shot to about seven feet, flipping the pressure onto Johnson.

“All day long it was like, okay, they’re 70 yards past me, but I just found something. I just found something on that shot, and I just, this is what I have to do because it’s this or nothing. And then I hit probably the best shot, I feel that I’ve hit this year,” said Kuong.

For her part, Johnson was unsurprised by Kuong’s excellent approach, “I watched her hit it tight almost every day, so you just kind of know that she’s going to hit good shots, even though she’s hitting fairway wood in, and I’m hitting an iron. That’s kind of her game.”

Johnson’s approach landed fairly close to Kuong’s but spun back another four feet outside of Kuong. Both competitors left their left-to-right breakers begging on the low side, necessitating a playoff.

The playoff began on the par-5 No. 10. Both players left themselves inside of 100 yards for their third shots. Kuong’s approach came in low, catching a ridge in front of the green, which sent it bounding over the back. Johnson’s trickled into the fringe on the back edge.

From there, she turned to competitor-turned-playoff-caddie Megan Buck for some advice, “It was nice to have her on the bag. We were kind of talking about, you know, putt or chip on that playoff hole. She’s like, ‘well, I would putt it,’ and I was like, ‘Well, I probably should too.’ So then that was probably the best lag putt I hit all day.”

Kuong’s chip left her with a tricky six-footer down the hill to extend the tournament, which she was unable to convert.

Tournament Division (Handicap Index up to 18.0)

Cheryl Krueger entered the day with a three-shot lead in the Tournament Division over Barb Hecimovich. Starting on the back nine, Hecimovich shot 38 on her first nine holes, which left her and Krueger tied entering the final nine-hole stretch. “I knew we were close all day long. I knew we were actually tied after nine, so the back was kind of back and forth, back and forth,” said Krueger.

Cheryl Krueger
Despite the surging Hecimovich, Krueger managed to stay within herself, “I didn’t really know where I was, so I didn’t have really highs or lows. I just kept playing and kept focusing on what I was trying to accomplish today and just played the best I could.”

Though she made five bogeys on her final nine holes, she was able to avoid any serious trouble on a course where trouble lurks everywhere. She posted 82, good for a two-day score of 18-over and a one-shot victory.

“I feel fortunate to have won. Barb was having a better day than I was, so I just didn’t know how things were going to shake out. Barb played really well; I played just a little bit better,” said Krueger.

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
ABOUT THE Grace Keyes Cup

36-hole stroke play championship for women mid-amateurs with an established GHIN handicap from a Massachusetts Golf Association member club. Two Divisions: Keyes Division (max handicap 18) and Flighted Division (handicaps of 18.1-36.0).

View Complete Tournament Information

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