Monday, September 24, 2018

Johnson Earns Medalist Honors, Leads Strong Contingent into Match Play

(St. Louis, Mo.) - Shannon Johnson earned medalist honors for the second time in three years in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, shooting a 1-under-par 71 on Sunday, good for a 36-hole total of 1-under 143 and the No. 1 seed for match play, which begins on Monday at Norwood Hills Country Club.

Johnson, of Norton, Mass., was two strokes clear of Meghan Stasi, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a four-time champion of this event, and Erin Bradford, of Georgetown, Ky., who finished at 1-over 145. The 40-year-old Stasi, whose most recent U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur title was in 2012, followed up an opening round 69 with a 76 to earn the No. 3 seed in the 64-player bracket, while Bradford, 34, shot 75-70 for the No. 2 seed.

Johnson shared co-medalist honors with Julia Potter-Bobb in 2016 at The Kahkwa Club, in Erie, Pa., then lost in the championship match to Potter-Bobb. Johnson was also a semifinalist in this championship last year at Champions Golf Club in Houston. The 35-year-old has four victories this summer, including the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur and the New England Women’s Amateur.

Potter-Bobb, 30, of Indianapolis, Ind., who also won this championship in 2013, shot 2-under 70 to share the low round of the day on Sunday with Bradford and 2015 champion Lauren Greenlief, 28, of Ashburn, Va. Greenlief finished three strokes back of Johnson, earning the No. 4 seed, and Potter-Bobb finished four strokes back, along with Paige McCullough, 32, of Stillwater, Minn.

Defending champion Kelsey Chugg, 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah, shot a second straight 3-over 75, which tied her for 10th with six other players, including 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, 56, of Carlsbad, Calif., and 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Judith Kyrinis, 54, of Canada.

Ellen Port, 57, of St. Louis, Mo., who has four victories in this championship among her seven USGA titles, shot 79-76 to earn the No. 32 seed for match play. She has qualified for match play 19 times in 23 starts in this championship, with victories in 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2011.

Erin Bradford, who qualified for match play for the first time in this championship, earning the No. 3 seed:
“My putting could have been a lot better yesterday, and I improved on that today. I kept putting myself in great positions on the greens. I hit the fairways better than I did yesterday, and that’s so important out here. That made a huge difference going into the greens.”

Shannon Johnson, who earned medalist honors with a round of 71 on Sunday that included five birdies:
“It was good to see the ball go in the hole today. The key for me is just coming out and swinging away, not getting tentative. If I get tentative, I’m going to bring the rough into play. I just need to get up and hit it like I know I can.”

Two-time champion Julia Potter-Bobb, who rebounded from an opening 77 to shoot 2-under 70 on Sunday:
“I’m going to try and pull from this round tomorrow; I really hit some solid shots. I have some things I can still get better at. But knowing I can play well out here gives me confidence going into match play.”

Judith Kyrinis, of Canada, the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion and the No. 15 seed, led a contingent of seven international players to make match play, three of them from Canada. Other nations represented by one player each are Italy, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam.

For the second straight day, only one player birdied the par-4 ninth hole, which played as the toughest hole by far in stroke play at a 4.93 stroke average, with 118 bogeys to 87 pars and 57 scores of double bogey or worse. Jen Holland of Guilford, Conn., birdied the hole on Sunday, while Clare Connolly of Chevy Chase, Md., birdied it on Saturday.

The 450-yard, par-5 18th hole played as the easiest hole in stroke play, the only hole with an under-par average, at 4.95 strokes. Five players eagled the hole and it also yielded 59 birdies over the two days.

Eight of the 11 USGA champions in the 132-player field reached match play. Only 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach, 2010 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin and 2007 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Anna Schultz fell outside the 36-hole cutline.

The 7-for-6 playoff for the final match-play spots will take place at 7 a.m. CT at Norwood Hills Country Club’s 14th hole. If necessary, the playoff will continue on Nos. 17 and 18. The Round of 64 begins at 8:30 a.m, from the first tee. Match play continues through Thursday’s 18-hole championship match.

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