Sunday, September 23, 2018

Four-Time Champion Stasi off to Strong Start

(St. Louis, Mo.) - Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., opened the 32nd playing of the championship Saturday with a 3-under-par 69 at Norwood Hills Country Club, good for a three-stroke advantage over Shannon Johnson, of Norton, Mass., who was the runner-up in 2016.

The field will play a second round of stroke play on Sunday, after which the 132-player field will be cut to the low 64 for match play, which will begin on Monday and continue through the 18-hole championship match on Thursday at 9 a.m.

Kelli Pry, of Coatesville, Pa.; Megan Buck, of Peoria, Ariz.; and Eleanor Tucker, of Savannah, Ga., all shot 1-over 73 on Saturday. Defending champion Kelsey Chugg, who defeated Mary Jane Hiestand in last year’s championship match at Champions Golf Club in Houston, opened with a 3-over 75. She was one of 11 players at that figure, including 2004 champion Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, Calif.

Lauren Greenlief, who won this championship in 2015, was in a group of eight players at 4-over 76, while two-time champion Julia Potter-Bobb and 2014 champion Margaret Starosto both were in at 5-over 77 in a group of 12 players.

A total of 20 players shot 75 or better on Saturday, and 62 players are at 7-over 79 or better heading into Sunday’s second round of stroke play.

Among the players who shot 79 is the only other four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, Ellen Port, who is competing in her hometown this week and hit the opening tee shot off No. 1 at 7:30 a.m. Port, who turned 57 on Friday, won four of her seven USGA titles between 2011 and 2016, and she also captained the USA Team to victory in the 2014 Curtis Cup Match at St. Louis Country Club.

Stasi, whose last U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur victory came in 2012, cited her consistent tee shots, which set up comfortable approach shots over Norwood Hills’ West Course, a Wayne Stiles design that opened in 1922 and hosted the 1948 PGA Championship, won by Ben Hogan. The course, known for its undulating greens, played to 6,005 yards and a par of 72 on Saturday.

Meghan Stasi on the key to her under-par round: “I drove the ball really well, which enabled me to hit some really good shots in. It was nice to have some really good birdie looks. I also hit two of the par 5s in two and lipped out a couple of eagle putts so that was fun. It was mainly about getting the ball off the tee correctly.”

Megan Buck, who is tied for third through Round 1 at 73: “I started on [the par-3] No. 10 and hit a good shot to 2 feet. I couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. I made an easy par on the next hole, gave myself a birdie putt on my third hole and just felt like I was already ahead of the game, especially seeing what the scores were like before I teed off.”

Kelsey Chugg, the 2017 champion, who started her week last year with an 85, on her opening 75: “I played really solid golf today. I had some nerves, but I just wanted to come in and take some pressure off myself. My game feels really solid right now overall.”

- Kelli Pry, of Coatesville, Pa., who shot 1-over 73, is studying for her nursing degree at the University of Florida and took a proctored exam Friday morning in St. Louis before the championship. “I’m so thankful to my teachers for letting me be here,” said Pry, 29, who helped the University of South Florida capture the 2011 Big East women’s golf title and was reinstated as an amateur in May. “In a normal week, if I’m lucky, I get to play golf on the weekends. I have clinicals Mondays and Tuesdays, classes Wednesdays and Thursdays, and exams on Fridays. On the weekends, I am stoked to take a break from studying and play some golf.”
- Megan Buck, who caddied for fellow Massachusetts resident Shannon Johnson the past two years as Johnson reached the championship match and the semifinals, qualified for the championship for the first time last month, with Johnson on the bag for Buck’s sectional qualifier in Massachusetts.
- Two players from Canada, 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Judith Kyrinis and Christina Proteau, who was a semifinalist in this championship in 2015, led the international contingent of 14 players with rounds of 2-over-par 74 and are tied for sixth place.
- The 371-yard par-4 ninth hole played to a scoring average of 5.06, with just one player (Clare Connolly of Chevy Chase, Md.) recording a birdie.

What's Next?
Each of the 132 competitors will play one more stroke-play round on Sunday beginning at 7:30 a.m., after which the field will be trimmed to the low 64 scorers for match play. Should a playoff be required to determine the final spots in the draw, that would take place Monday morning.

The Round of 64 is scheduled for Monday, followed by two more rounds of match play on Tuesday. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Wednesday, with the 18-hole final on Thursday.

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