Sea Island Women's Amateur: Savannah De Bock and Nicole Gal lead after opening round
Nicole Gal (Ole Miss Athletics Photo)
Nicole Gal (Ole Miss Athletics Photo)

Nicole Gal and Savannah De Bock grabbed a share of the lead Wednesday following the first round of the Sea Island Women’s Amateur taking place on the Seaside Course in coastal Georgia.  

Playing at the Sea Island Golf Club, both players shot 3-under-par 67 in the opening round of the 54-hole tournament, which is the first event on this year’s summer schedule in women’s amateur golf. 

Gal, a sophomore at Ole Miss from Canada, turned in a scorecard that featured an eagle at the par-4 16th hole to go along with four birdies and three bogeys. 

“I was really happy with my round,” she said. “I hit every green on the front nine, which has been a struggle for me lately,” she said. “The back nine was a bit more up and down. I made a few bogeys, but then I also holed out for the eagle, which was really fun.” 

De Bock, a freshman at the University of Georgia this season who arrived from Belgium mid-year, enjoyed a round that featured four birdies and a late bogey. 

“I was very pleased, very happy,” she said. “My putter and my short game really helped me today.  “I holed a few 8- and 9-footers for birdies and also a few for pars also.”

The Sea Island tournament, now in its fourth year, is also the first event in the inaugural Women’s Elite Amateur Series. The series consists of five events in which players can accumulate points in the chase for the Elite Amateur Cup. The player finishing at the top of the standings at the end will earn exemptions into USGA competitions as well as some professional tournaments. 

De Bock is currently ranked No. 86 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Women's Rankings and Gal is ranked No. 390.

Despite very little wind greeting the opening round of the tournament on the par-70 Seaside layout which plays along the Atlantic Ocean, the challenging course which meanders through coastal marshlands yielded very few low numbers in round one.  In addition to the co-leaders, only four other players in the field of 83 that teed off  completed the first 18 holes under par for the day. 

And, with five other golfers shooting par over the first 18, only 11 players ended up at level par or better in the first round. 

One of the players lurking just a shot back of the two leaders is Annabelle Pancake who is among a group of three golfers tied for third after Wednesday’s round at 2-under. Pancake, a senior this season at Clemson and a two-time All-ACC performer, had two birdies and 16 pars in her first round. Her birdies came back-to-back at the second and third holes. 

Pancake played in this year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur. She finished seventh at the recent NCAA tournament and was the runner-up in The Women’s Amateur Championship last summer. 

Also at 2-under are Ohio State’s Kary Hollenbaugh and Alabama high-school golfer Scarlett Schremmer who was recently named to the U.S. National Junior Team. She is committed to play collegiate golf at Miami after high school. 

The lone player at 1-under par is Alabama freshman Kaitlyn Schroeder, who is from nearby Jacksonville, Fla., about an hour to the south of the tournament site. 

In the mix of players at even-par after the opening round is Kentucky standout Laney Frye who recently completed her outstanding career with the Lady Wildcats. Frye has finished second in each of the first three Sea Island Women’s Am tournaments. Last year, she took a five-shot lead into the closing round, but settled for a 72 over the final round and finished a stroke behind eventual champion Morgan Ketchum from Virginia Tech who shot 7-under 63 to emerge from the pack and claim the crown. 

The All-America player for the Lady Wildcats managed a 70 on Wednesday despite a double-bogey at the par-5 seventh hole. Frye had a birdie and five pars before playing the seventh hole. Frye rebounded with a pair of pars to make the turn at 1-over for the round. 

She would close the day with two birdies and a bogey on the inward nine to finish at level par after her first 18 holes and will start round two three shots off the lead pace. 

Ketchum, meantime, opened with a 5-over 75 on Wednesday as she began defense of her championship.  

For the first round, Gal was in the first group off the No. 1 tee as play opened with a two-tee start. 

She has spent a lot of time working on improving her iron play and is starting to see good results. 

“I’ve worked on it pretty much all year,” Gal said. “I’m usually pretty good off the tee, and my putting has been great and my short game has always been solid. So, I know to shoot lower scores I need to be hitting more greens and hitting closer. 

“Even today, it could have been better. I did hit a lot of greens, but still had a lot of long putts.”

Gal didn’t have to putt at all on the par-4 16th, though. Following a solid tee shot across the marsh which also runs along the left edge of the fairway, she was left with a wedge from 89 yards to the raised green with the flag tucked behind a large greenside bunker. She couldn’t see the ball go in the hole from her vantage point in the fairway, but her mom saw roll into the cup while watching around the green. 

De Bock came through four groups later and made birdie at the 16th, hitting her approach inside four feet and making her putt for her fourth birdie of the day to take the solo lead momentarily at 4-under. 

She would make her only bogey, though, at the par-3 17th before closing out her round with a par at the last to finish at 3-under along with Gal. 

“I think I jinxed it,” De Bock said about briefly thinking about not having a bogey on her scorecard late in the round.

“I should not have done that,” she added with a smile.  

Round two begins at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. The tournament concludes on Friday with the final round.

Sea Island Shorts

Series Scoop: The Women’s Elite Amateur Series which began this week at Sea Island is patterned after the similar men’s series which started in 2021. 

The men’s series features seven tournaments during the summer months while this initial women’s summertime series will include five tournaments. 

In addition to the Sea Island Women’s Amateur, which had been contested in July previously but moved to May this year to kick off the series, the other tournaments which are part of this are the Southwestern Women’s Amateur in Scottsdale, Ariz., set for June 12-15; the North and South Women’s Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C., on June 25-29; the Western Women’s Amateur in Lake Forest, Ill., July 16-20; and the LNGA Amateur in Hot Springs, Ariz., on July 23-25.  

The seven founding championships that comprise the Men’s Series are the Sunnehanna Amateur, Northeast Amateur, North & South Amateur, Trans-Mississippi Amateur, Southern Amateur, Pacific Coast Amateur and the Western Amateur. 

SEC and Seaside: Perhaps it’s fitting that two players from the Southeastern Conference hold the lead after the first round of this week’s tournament at Sea Island. 

The Seaside Course has served as the longtime host for the SEC Men’s Golf Championship, and just a month ago, it was the Auburn Tigers winning this year’s SEC championship as the top-ranked team in the country coming into the tournament. 

Also, Auburn freshman Jackson Koivun won the league’s individual championship while helping the Tigers win the stroke-play portion of the tournament to go into the match-play tournament as the top-seed in the eight-team format. 

Auburn is actually taking on Florida State Wednesday for the NCAA men’s championship out in California. 

In Tuesday’s semifinals, it was actually Koivun who captured the decisive point for Auburn in the team’s 3-2 triumph over Ohio State to send the team to the finals. The Haskins Award and Ben Hogan Award winner won his match in 21 holes for the clinching point. 

Just Peachy: Sea Island made sure to send out tournament invitations to play in the fourth installment of its Women’s Am to winners of some of the top tournaments in Georgia. 

Playing this week are Mikayla Dubnik, the 2023 Georgia Women’s Open champion; Mary Miller, the 2023 Georgia Girls champion and also last year’s Georgia Women’s Match-Play champion; and also Sara Im, currently a standout a Vanderbilt who won the 2020 Georgia Women’s Am and also was part of the winning team in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Results: Sea Island Women's Amateur
1INAnnabelle PancakeZionsville, IN70068-66-70=204
2KYLaney FryeLexington, KY50070-68-70=208
T3SCAndie SmithBluffton, SC40075-65-69=209
T3TNSophie LinderCarthage, TN40070-69-70=209
T5ThailandThanana KotchasanmaneeThailand40070-74-66=210

View full results for Sea Island Women's Amateur

ABOUT THE Sea Island Women's Amateur

Patterned after the highly successful Jones Cup Invitational tournaments at Sea Island and Ocean Forest Golf Club, which began in 2001, the Women’s Amateur follows the Jones Cup tradition of drawing the nation’s best female golfers to the world-class setting of Sea Island. The format is 54 holes of stroke play with a field limit of 84 players.

View Complete Tournament Information

Latest in 

Amateurgolf.com, Inc.
6965 El Camino Real 105-631
Carlsbad, CA 92009

Instagram X Facebook YouTube