(ERIE, Pa.) – Shannon Johnson and Julia Potter returned two-day totals of 1-over-par 145 to earn co-medalist honors in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,000-yard, par-72 Kahkwa Club.
The 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA), is open to female amateur golfers who are at least 25 years of age and who have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 9.4. It consists of two 18-hole rounds of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play starting on Monday, with the championship scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday.
Potter, 28, of Indianapolis, Ind., entered Sunday’s second round with a one-stroke lead after her 1-under 71 on Saturday. Playing in the morning and starting on the inward nine, Potter made the turn at 2 over for the round. But a 40-footer for birdie on the par-4 first helped right her game, and she played her last nine holes at even par for a 2-over 74.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball as well as I was yesterday,” said Potter, who took the championship title in 2013. “But I made some clutch shots out there. When I made a mistake, I limited the mistake to bogey and that’s really what you need to do out here.”
Potter started her championship-winning week in 2013 by taking medalist honors at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, N.C. But the veteran competitor knows that she can’t look too far ahead.
“At the end of the day, it’s about winning this championship and placing yourself in contention, in a good spot in the match-play format,” said Potter, whose Women’s Mid-Amateur record also includes a runner-up finish in 2014. “I didn’t get as aggressive as I could today, but I set myself up well for the coming week.”
Playing in the afternoon wave, Johnson, 33, of Norton, Mass., was at even par through 15 holes and held a one-stroke lead over Potter. However, her wayward tee shot on the par-4 seventh hole (her 16th) led to a double bogey, and nearly dropped Johnson out of medalist contention.
“The hosel got stuck trying to hit a long iron, and I hit it right, a really long way from the green,” said Johnson, who is making her third U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur start. “I was in the tall fescue and just had to chunk it out.”
With medalist honors on the line, Johnson’s 9-iron approach from 125 yards on the par-4 ninth stopped just 5 feet from the hole. She converted the putt for birdie and a tie for the top of the leader board.
“It’s great, but really the tournament starts tomorrow,” said Johnson. “For me, I wanted to come out and play well these first couple days. It’s just getting into a routine and getting my swing where I wanted to.”
Ann Miles, 27, of Dublin, Ohio, finished solo third at 2-over 146, followed by Cortney Reno, 36, of Detroit, Mich., at 3-over 147 and Dawn Woodard, 42, of Greenville, S.C., at 5-over 149.
Four-time Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi returned a two-day total of 6-over 150 to start her bid for a record fifth title. The 38-year-old from Oakland Park, Fla., tied for sixth with 2015 quarterfinalist Paige McCullough, 30, of Minneapolis, Minn.
Three-time Women’s Mid-Amateur finalist Margaret Shirley-Starosto, who beat Potter for the 2014 title, was one of four players tied for eighth at 7-over 151, joining 1997 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up and 2016 USA Curtis Cup captain Robin Burke. Defending champion Lauren Greenlief tied for 46th at 15-over 159.
For the first time since 2007, no playoff was necessary to complete the match-play bracket, with the 64-player cut coming at 18-over 164. Among those to make the cut on the number was Kareen Markle, of Meridian, Idaho, whose 12-stroke turnaround from Saturday to Sunday (87-75) was the best comeback of the championship.
Notables to miss the cut include 2004 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Carolyn Creekmore (165) and 1989 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Robin Weiss Donnelley (172).