SANTA FE, N.M. (Sept. 27, 2017) – Thanks to three birdies over the last four holes from Marianna Monaco, New York retained its lead through two rounds of the 12th USGA Women’s State Team Championship being contested on The Club at Las Campanas’ Sunrise Course, which played to a par of 72 and 6,097 yards on Wednesday.
Monaco, 22, of Yonkers, finished at 2-over 74 for the day, while Ina Kim, 34, of New York, posted a second consecutive 1-under 71 to bring the team’s score to 1-under 287 through two rounds. LeeAnn Lewis, 54, of West Gilgo Beach, shot 6-over 78 for the team’s non-counting score. New York leads Florida and Tennessee by one stroke heading into Thursday, which is scheduled to begin with the resumption of Round 2 at 7:05 a.m. MDT, followed by the beginning of the final round.
The constant rain forced a 48-minute delay from 4:14 p.m. to 5:02 p.m. Play was suspended for the day due to darkness at 6:02 p.m. with 11 groups and 12 teams still on the course.
Team Washington, led by Leslie Folsom of Tukwila, Jamie Huo of Kent and Shawn Farmer-Sese of Renton finished the Championship with a team score of 24-over 312 after two rounds, missing the final round cut by four strokes.
Leading Arizona by three strokes entering the day, the Monaco-Kim duo hit some road bumps midway through their rounds, briefly dropping New York to as low as sixth place on the leader board during the morning wave. But Monaco, the 2007 New York Women’s Amateur champion, recovered from a quadruple bogey on the par-4 third, her 12th hole, and Kim posted two birdies on her inward nine.
Monaco’s quadruple bogey coincided with heavy rain before she teed off on No. 3. After a poor tee shot way right, she hit a strong provisional ball down the middle of the fairway, approximately 100 yards from the hole. However, her ball was found on top of rocks and she was forced to take an unplayable lie. A bad shot from there resulted in another drop and an 8 on the hole.
Admitting the rain threw her off her game, Monaco kept a positive mindset, knowing there was time to make up ground. She did exactly that, with birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 9, and a clutch par save on No. 8 after getting relief following a wayward tee shot.
“I knew 9 was a birdie hole for me, so after 3, my goal was to get back to 3 under for the day and I was able to get back to 2,” she said. “I can definitely say it was not a good day for me. Yesterday, I hit 17 greens. Today, I may have hit half that. I was scrambling a lot out there and I definitely felt it. I had to work to get myself back.”
Kim, the 2000 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship runner-up, made four birdies and three bogeys. Despite posting an identical score as Round 1, she felt her game wasn’t as strong in Round 2.
“Today was a lot sloppier. I wasn’t really great off the tee,” said Kim, who converted only three of 11 birdie putts inside 20 feet. “My irons were still good, so I was able to scramble a little bit. My putting wasn’t as good as yesterday, so I’m kind of surprised I ended up with the same score, because it felt like I was playing a lot worse.”
The Women’s State Team consists of three-player teams, with all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico eligible to field teams. This year, 47 states and the District of Columbia fielded teams, with North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Wyoming opting not to compete. The championship consists of 18 holes of stroke play on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The best two scores for the team count toward the team score, with the third score acting as a tiebreaker. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 21 teams and ties, plus any individual whose team missed the cut but was within five strokes of the individual lead. The low individual after 54 holes receives a gold medal.
The USGA’s State Team championships began in 1995 as part of the Association’s Centennial Celebration. They were conducted on a biennial basis until 2010, when the men and women began alternating years. After a two-year review process with state and regional golf associations, it was announced in March that the USGA would retire its State Team championships at the end of the 2017 season. The USGA annually conducts 13 national championships, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Tennessee moved up the leader board during the morning wave, thanks to Ashley Gilliam, 16, of Manchester, who posted the best individual round of the championship thus far at 5-under 67. Gilliam rattled off five consecutive birdies from holes 4-8, then finished with birdies on 17 and 18.
Gilliam was so in the zone she didn’t even realize she made five consecutive birdies and felt the weather played in her favor.
“It rained for a few holes, but it didn’t really feel like we were playing in bad weather,” she said. “Yesterday was way harder because that wind was blowing hard and it didn’t stop.”
Playing in the afternoon wave, Florida made a strong push on the backs of Tara Joy-Connelly, 44, of North Palm Beach, and four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 39, of Oakland Park.
Joy-Connelly, playing in her 10th Women’s State Team and eighth for Florida, shot 2-under 70, making birdies on Nos. 14, 3 and 6. Stasi was 2 under through 11, thanks to a birdie on No. 1 and an eagle on the par-5 second, propelling Florida into the lead. However, Stasi finished bogey-bogey to put New York back on top.
“I didn’t begin very well in the rain, but just tried to keep my head down and block it out as best I could,” said Joy-Connelly. “We all said before the championship began that every shot counts. You can’t leave any out there.”
Julia Potter, the 2013 and 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, has Indiana in a tie for fourth place with Alabama thanks to back-to-back 2-under 70s. At 4-under 140, Potter, 29, of Franklin, is the low individual. Kayla Katterhenry, 22, of Evansville, shot 1-over 73.
“I was talking to my team this morning and we talked about how with the rain and changing weather, par is a great score,” said Potter. “So going into [the final hole] knowing my teammate shot 1 over, I was like OK, this is a great opportunity for us to be under par as a team. Luckily, I was able to make a birdie. So when you’re able to do that, you know you’ve put yourself in a good position for tomorrow.”
Alabama improved by 10 strokes in Round 2 and is tied for fourth with Indiana, thanks to under-par performances from Michaela Morard (69) and Cammie Gray (71). Defending champion Georgia, which has won a record four Women’s State Teams, improved by 14 strokes to move up to 12th place.
New Mexico improved by 16 strokes from Round 1 to Round 2, thanks to an even-par showing from Jacquelyn Galloway, 17, of Rio Rancho, and a 75 from Samantha Surette, 45, of Albuquerque.
This is the second USGA championship in New Mexico, joining the 1999 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at Santa Ana Golf Course in Santa Ana Pueblo. Only two competitors in this week’s field competed in the 1999 WAPL: Sue Billek Nyhus, of Utah, and Leslie Folsom, of Washington.
For more information on the Women’s State Team Championship visit www.usga.org.