NYS WOMEN’S AMATEUR & MID-AMATEUR
Marianna Monaco came from behind in the final round at Schuyler Meadows Club to claim the title of 88th NYS Women’s Amateur champion.
As for the trio of Towson University Tigers, none could claw their way to the top, including Loudonville-native Jenny Buchanan who began the day six-stroke behind her college teammates Alix Lowe of Colonial Springs Golf Club and four behind Alexis Hios of Westchester Country Club.
Meanwhile, Lauren Cupp of the Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford started with a two-stroke lead and held on to take the 9th NYS Women’s Mid-Amateur championship. Cupp, from Rome, shot a steady 76 and never gave up the lead.
Monaco quickly twisted a six-stroke deficit into a four-stroke lead by knocking down five birdies against just two bogeys. Her score added up to an impressive 69 (-3) and 217 total (73-75-69).
“After the opening round, I knew there were a lot of birdies around the course,” said Monaco. “It was about staying patient and letting it all come together.”
The Yonkers-native registered five birdies during her opening round on Wednesday too, but ended up struggling down the stretch. Friday morning, she knew she needed to attack the course early: “I struggled all week on 15, 16 and 17. I knew I needed as many birdies I could get before I got there in case something happened.”
Monaco was the runner-up last year in Elmira. There, she led the field after two rounds but Capital Area-native Bailey Cocca made a strong charge and fewer mistakes to overcome a three-stroke deficit and win in a playoff. It was a South Carolina struggle with Cocca from Coastal Carolina and Monaco a student at South Carolina. Cocca could not defend her title this year after turning professional and now working as an assistant at Normanside CC.
Entering Friday’s final round, Monaco was behind the leader quite a bit:
“I was chasing six shots, which is a lot in the last round. I knew I had to post a low number.”
Her lead began after the 305-yard par-4 eighth hole, which she birdied and the leader at the time, Alexis Hios, made bogey for a three-stroke-swing between the two atop the leaderboard. “I knew coming into the ninth that Marianna was ahead of me,” said Hios. “I missed a birdie opportunity on ten and she made par, that was my opportunity to push forward. I just didn’t give myself a chance to pull through.”
Hios, the 2013 NYS Girls’ Junior champion, finished runner-up with a 77 (221) and posted the lowest round of the tournament and carded an impressive 4-under 68 on Wednesday.
Monaco continued to widen the gap on #11 and #12, with consecutive 10-foot birdies. On #13, she had a 20-foot putt for eagle but ended up three-putting for par. Still, she maintained her composure and only gave up one more stroke through the finish (a bogey on #16).
Lowe, the leader after two rounds, had her toughest day on the course and dropped to third with a final-round 81 (223). 2015 champion Kyra Cox of Centennial Golf Club, finished T8 with a final round 77 (232).
CUPP FILLS IT UP
Cupp, 32, began the day strong with birdies on the first two holes, both par-5s.
“To be honest I thought I was going to lose a shot or two there,” she confessed. “I knew going in I was going to be the short hitter of the group and I’d probably have to make a couple of up-and-downs to stay in it.”
Although she didn’t sink a birdie putt the rest of the round, she never gave up too much. “I had a lot of long putts. A lot of six-footers for par. I made my caddie work hard today,” she said with a smirk (referring to her husband Wes).
Runner-up Julie Murphy of Brookfield Country Club had a sporadic final round with five birdies, eight pars, three bogeys and two doubles for a 75 (tying Cupp’s second round as low tournament score). She capitalized on the 125-yard downhill par-3 twelfth with a birdie (a hole she bogeyed the two rounds prior) and continued her momentum with birdies on the next two, staying in contention.
Murphy and Cupp, evened out on the par-3 15th when Cupp bogeyed and Murphy parred. The tie was short-lived, as Murphy went back down a stroke on the next hole and was unable to earn it back. Cupp knew she was clear of danger after her second shot on the picturesque par-4 18th hole. From the fairway, her second shot one-hopped from the front of the green and rolled to about six-feet for birdie.
“To get that on the green, it gave me a smile on my face and I knew I had a good chance then,” she stated, crediting her “trusty nine-wood.”
Murphy finished just one-stroke behind Cupp with a 232 (77-80-75). Kim Kaul of Gowanda Country Club, who joined Cupp and Murphy in the final pairing, finished in third with a 78 (235), four strokes off the mark.
After three consecutive years in the final championship Mid-Am pairing, Cupp, the Men’s & Women’s Head Golf Coach at Hamilton finally eclipsed her goal:
“This is the big one. This is the one I’ve always wanted to win.”