BREAKS 27 YEAR CAPITAL AREA DROUGHT
By Bob Weiner
As a youngster, Bailey Cocca seemed destined for greatness. The 5-foot-3 dynamo hit booming drives and nailed clutch putt after putt en route to claiming a pair of New York State Girls Amateur titles.
But despite a respectable collegiate career at Coastal Carolina, where she graduated this spring, the Shaker High School product never achieved that one breakthrough moment until Friday, July 15, when she parred the first playoff hole against Marianna Monaco of Dunwoodie GC to win the 87th New York State Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Elmira Country Club.
It was the first NYS Women’s State Am crown for a Capital Area competitor in 27 years. Tiffany Maurycy, then playing out of Mohawk Golf Club, won the title in 1989.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” said Cocca by telephone an hour after winning the prestigious title. “It feels fantastic to finally get this off my shoulders. This is an awesome feeling.”
Cocca, playing out of the NYSGA’s eClub – Capital District, shot 79-72-74=225 (+6) while Monaco, the first and second round leader, shot 72-76-77=225 (+6), followed by the defending champion Kyra Cox (Centennial GC) of South Salem, NY with 75-76-75=226 (+7).
STARTED SLOW, ENDED #1
Cocca, who said she was going through a swing change just before the tournament, began the three-day event with a 79 (+6), but came back strong with two solid rounds, a 72 (-1) on Thursday and a 74 (+1) in the final round on Friday for a three-day total of 225 (+6).
“In the playoff, I just tried to treat it like any other hole,” said Cocca, the daughter of former Shaker Ridge Country Club standout left-hander Jim Cocca. He coached and caddied for her into her mid-teens. “I stayed calm. In fact, I hit one of my best drives of the day. I was only about 80 yards out, and I hit my wedge to about 12-feet. I was a little mad at myself for leaving the birdie putt short, but I only had a tap-in. (Monaco) ended up with a three-putt.”
PUTTER WAS NOT “ON”
Cocca said her putting wasn’t as sharp as she would have liked in the final round. “I’d say it was probably about a B,” she said. “But I hit my driver very well, and I hit my irons great. I kept giving myself opportunities for birdies all day.”
On the front nine, she birdied the first, fifth and sixth holes to help offset double bogeys on the fourth and seventh holes. She birdied the 11th hole and bogeyed the 13th on the back.
“I basically made a 4-putt from the fringe on the seventh hole,” she said. “After the 14th hole, I knew I was ahead by one shot, and I don’t know if that was good that I knew it or not. But she (Monaco) birdied the 16th to tie it up.
“I think the biggest hole for me was the 17th hole. I hit my drive left, on a cart path. But I made a bad drop, and the ball sat down in the deep rough. I hit the ball out, and it landed in downhill lie in a bunker. I thought I was in bad shape, but I hit a great shot to within a couple of feet and saved par.
“I would say that I really only made one bad shot all day,” she said. “I haven’t been in this situation for a long time. Sure, I’ve been in playoffs before when I was a junior, but it’s been a long time. I’m very proud.”
CAPITAL AREA SCORES
Jenny Buchanan of Loudonville, a rising sophomore at Towson University in Maryland and a member of Schuyler Meadows Club, shot an 80 (+7) to finish in fourth with a 232 (+13), and Caitlan Blydenburgh, playing out of Burden Lake CC, was T12 with an 80-246 (+27).
BEATTY WINS 2ND MID-AM
Joanna Beatty of Newburgh posted the low round of the tournament for the Mid-Amateur Division (age 25+), shooting 76 (+3) to win the 8th NYS Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship to shoot +20. The 2014 champion (Dutchess Golf Club) overtook second round leader Lauren Cupp of Rome. Cupp led by five heading into the final round but limped in with an 83 (+10) including a triple-bogey on the par-5 16th.
Beatty shot 83-80-76 and her final round included four bogeys and a birdie, good enough for the two-shot win.
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