Megan Khang of Rockland, Massachusetts emerged victorious at the 15th Connecticut Women’s Open Championship, shooting a final round of even-par 72 to win by a single shot over Ashli Bunch of Morristown, Tennessee.
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Women’s Open is a 36-hole stroke play competition contested at Tumble Brook Country Club in Bloomfield, Connecticut on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 28th and 29th. The tournament is open to any amateur or professional female golfer regardless of residency, and annually attracts some of the top competitors from across the country.
Khang began the final round one stroke back of overnight leaders Liz (Janangelo) Caron and Ashli Bunch after opening the tournament with a two under-par round of 70. Overnight rain softened the course considerably, which made the 5,848 yard par-72 layout at Tumble Brook Country Club play even longer. Known for her tremendous length off the tee, Khang wasted no time making her move up the leaderboard. She recorded a rare eagle on the par-5 third hole, which jumped her into a tie for the lead with Ashli Bunch, an LPGA and Symetra Tour veteran from Morristown, Tennessee.
A pair of bogeys in the middle of her round dropped Khang from the top spot, but playing in the group in front of the leaders, she remained patient the entire day. “I went out there today trying to focus on beating the course instead of my fellow competitors. I tried not to worry about what was happening in the group behind and just focused on my next shot”, said Khang.
Her patience paid off, as she would go on to make back-to-back birdies on Holes 12 and 13 to reclaim the outright lead and never looked back. She successfully navigated the final six holes at Tumble Brook, which statistically played the toughest of any stretch on the course, with only a single bogey. Ashli Bunch, who shared the lead for a majority of the day, made a costly bogey on the difficult par-5 17th, which ultimately was the difference. Bunch recorded rounds of 69-74, which earned her runner-up honors and the $5,000 professional title.
Khang entered the Women’s Open as the defending champion and one of the youngest players in the field. The fifteen year old High School Sophomore became the youngest player in tournament history to win the Women’s Open last year, and came into the tournament as the 12th ranked junior girl in the country. Despite her age, Khang was not the least bit intimidated. “I try to treat everyone the same,” Khang said. “To me, age doesn’t really matter, and I forget that I am five to ten years younger than some of my competitors.”
As with last year’s Women’s Open, Khang had her father as her caddy. Although the two don’t talk much on the course, it is clear that the win meant a lot to their family. Khang’s father was the one who first put a club in her hands at a little over two years old, and has been with her every step of the way since. Khang has a full schedule of tournaments lined up and plans to split her time between junior and amateur events across the country. She will play next at the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship, one of the top junior tournaments in the country, which will be played in Cape Giradeau, Missouri.
Finishing alone in third place with rounds of 70-75 was Mia Landegren of Bridgewater, Connecticut, who shared the lead midway through the final round before suffering a string of bogey’s on her back nine. Landegren, who will be a freshman at Alabama this fall, captured the 2012 Connecticut Women’s Amateur Title and will return to Sweden this summer to defend the Swedish National Junior Team Championship.
A special thank you to Tumble Brook Country Club and all the volunteers and members who came out to support the tournament. Next year's Connecticut Women's Open Championship will be contested at Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford, Connecticut.