Week of May 1st Tee Times

Mitchell Looking for No. 2

CSGA (July 16, 2020) You could say the Connecticut Women’s Amateur Championship has become a teenager’s game. 

In 2018, Ridgewood’s Kyra Cox, about to head to Furman University for her first year, won handily at Hartford Golf Club, not long after she’d also captured the New York State Amateur. 

Last year at Oronoque Country Club, New Canaan’s Meghan Mitchell, having led her high school team to their third straight state title, beat Cox and 15-year-old challenger Alex Fox of Ellington to win by two.

Although “mid-am” Autumn Serruta won at Manchester Country Club in 2017, it’s belonged to high-schoolers since. With seven finishing in last year’s top ten, the Amateur’s Junior Division has officially taken charge. 

We hesitate to predict that another teenager will win the 2020 Connecticut Women’s Amateur July 22-23 Amateur at Fairview Farm Golf Course in Harwinton, but don’t bet against it.

Mitchell, who just completed her freshman year at Appalachian State, will be ready, she says, despite the restrictions of the pandemic. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to practice throughout,” she told the CSGA’s Sam Dostaler, “I have a net in my basement, so when everything was locked down, I was there. As things opened up I was at the range and playing at my home course [Oronoque].” For Mitchell, the game is a family affair. “My Mom [Roxanne] is my swing coach and last year at the Amateur she was on the bag day one and my dad [Steve] was on the bag on day two. They really helped me manage the course well. And they really help me with the mental side of the game. Winning the Connecticut Am with their help is a great memory.”

In addition to Mitchell, about to turn 19, and Fox, 16, other young players to keep an eye on include Westport’s star Sophia Sarrazin, 15, who last year won on the AJGA Tour before winning the Borck Memorial Invitational at Brooklawn Country Club over Mia Scarpati.  The field of strong teenagers includes:

—Madeleine Hong of Glastonbury, 19, a 2019 high school graduate who won the PGA’s Ellington Ridge Junior Open last year, and played on the Connecticut Tri-State team at Mill River. 

—Emily Cohen of Darien, 19, who just completed her first year at Elon University. Cohen was T4 last year, and won back-to-back Borck Memorials in 2015 and 2016.

—Elizabeth Garfield, 19, also a member of the Connecticut Tri-State team at Mill River and who finished tenth last year. 

Also include “veterans” who have left their teens, but are likely to contend.

—Nora NoelNolan, 20, who like Mitchell just finished her freshman year in college, and who with dad Gerard just won the 1st Connecticut Parent Child Championship at at Wethersfield Country Club. 

—Alexa Brown, 20, of Trumbull, whose father, Bobby Brown, has built a junior factory at Tashua Knolls, and who finished T12 at Oronoque.

—Taylor Rogers, 22, of New Britain, who just graduated from Fairfield University, where, in her last season she played in all nine tournaments of the team’s events. She was T8 last year. 

Having something to say about this junior movement are mid-Amateurs, and especially  seniors, in the field, who could win. 

Start there with Jen Holland, who has been Connecticut’s Female Player of the Year for the three years of the award, and who placed third last year, despite a disappointing, for her, first round of 84. Her season also included qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur and finishing fourth in the North & South Senior Women’s Open Championship at Pinehurst. Holland had hoped to qualify for the 3rd U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn this year before that event was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

—Gia Watkins, winner of the Super Senior division in 2019, finished T6 overall, tying with Cox. 

—Debbie Johnson of Oronoque, who finished 11th in 2019 and last year qualified for the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur.

—Another Senior Am qualifier, Mercedese Large of Wampanoag, was T16 at Oronoque last year. 

Holland, who this month won the SNEWGA Individual Championship at Richter Park Golf Course by 11 shots and took the Amateur’s Senior Division title last year, said: “It doesn’t whether you’re 15 or 56. You want to win. The division titles are kind of a fallback. I’m sure none of the juniors are there to win the junior title first. They want to win the whole championship.” Holland says she’s playing better this past couple of years with a “more relaxed”approach, and thinks it would be “fantastic” to win her second Amateur. She won in 2008. “And if that happens, she says, “I’ll say, ‘Score one for the Seniors!’”

The field of 54, no matter their age, will meet in Fairview Farm a beautiful, 5750-yard course that begins and finishes at the top of a hill with gorgeous views of Litchfield County, winding through tree-lined fairways in between. Designed by Dick Christian and owner Bob Ferrarotti, Fairview Farm is characterized by par 3s of intermediate length, about 150 yards, but which face in three different directions, with one, the seventh, crossing a pond. The ninth and 18th holes share a massive green that allows hole locations changes of 5 clubs or more, a great place to watch a finish. 

The championship comprises 36 holes of stroke play,18 on Wednesday, July 22nd and 18 on Thursday, July 23rd.  Divisional competition will be held in the following categories, field size permitting:  Juniors (under 18), Seniors (50-59), Super Seniors (60 and above ) and Team (lowest two combined scores from a club). In the case of a tie for the Overall Champion, a hole-by-hole playoff will be conducted immediately following the conclusion of all rounds on Thursday, July 23rd.