U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Notebook: Closing a Gap; Renewing a Friendship May 11, 2015 | Bandon, Ore. By Tom Mackin and Ron Driscoll, USGA

While Dr. Angela Stewart (left) and Rachel Carpenter lost their match, they showed why golf is a game that bridges generations. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

A 36-year age difference makes for unlikely teammates, but it didn’t faze Rachel Carpenter and Dr. Angela Stewart at all in the inaugural 2015 Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Carpenter, 24, of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Stewart, 60, of Greenville, N.C., advanced through two rounds of stroke-play competition before losing, 2 and 1, on Monday to Megan Carter and Lauren Lightfritz in a Round-of-32 match on the Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

“I didn’t know we had the largest age gap of teammates in this championship,” said Stewart, a physician and founder of Our Children’s Clinic in Winterville, N.C., a pediatric healthcare clinic. “I figured there would be more like us. It’s the smart thing to do. Get yourself a young person to play with, someone who can bomb it!”

The two first met in 2007 at the Harder Hall Women’s Invitational in Florida. “I played in that event with Maggie Weder, who is now my caddie, and she is best friends with Dr. Stewart,” said Carpenter. “I would see them every year at different tournaments and we became friends that way.”

Weder was planning to partner with Stewart during qualifying for this championship, but she became injured and asked Carpenter to step in. Despite never having played together before, she and Stewart, who serves on the USGA’s Regional Affairs Committee, earned medalist honors in a qualifier at Pinewild Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C.

“She is kind of like an aunt to me,” Carpenter said of Stewart after their match-play loss. “She’s around the same age as my mom. We get along really well.”

“I enjoyed being out there [on Pacific Dunes] with Rachel,” said Stewart, who has competed in 18 USGA championships since taking up the game at 40. “I love to watch her hit the ball. I wish I could hit the ball like she does.

Although their games differ, the two were able to learn from each other.

“Her misses are very concise,” said Carpenter. “They’re more predictable than mine. She’s also just very carefree all the time. I get a little too intense.”

“I’m trying to learn how to hit down on the ball like Rachel does, so I can get a lower ball flight,” said Stewart, who won the 2011 North Carolina Women’s Senior Championship, becoming the first African American to win a Carolinas Golf Association championship. “I’m a high-ball hitter. I’m in trouble with the wind here.”

Given their initial performance together, will there be more championships in the future for this unlikely partnership?

“It all depends on if she wants to turn pro or not,” said Stewart. “Obviously I’m not going to. I already have a good paying job and I’ll keep it!”

Robertson-Myers Take Defeat to Medalists In Stride

The challenge for players of mid-amateur age (25 and older) is obvious at these championships: get their games into competitive shape around busy lives, while hoping that experience will help them through.

Carol Robertson, who reached the championship match of the 2010 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and is the women’s golf coach at Virginia Tech, made a pair of aces in March – in the same round. Despite the notoriety she gained for that feat, her game is not where she would like it to be.

“I’ve played a little more recently than I usually do,” said Robertson, 31. “But it’s playing, without a whole lot of practice. I got to that Women’s Mid-Am final before jobs and babies.”

On Monday, Robertson and her partner Corrie Myers, of Palm Coast, Fla. – a former college teammate – lost to medalists Athena Yang, of Winter Haven, Fla., and Kendall Griffin, of Sebring, Fla., 5 and 4, in the first match of the inaugural championship.

Robertson has a 2-year-old son, J.J., with husband Jason, and is able to play about twice a week. Myers gave birth to daughter Harper in April 2014. They were philosophical about their defeat.

“They’re two great players and we didn’t have our best day, and that’s probably what it would have taken,” said Robertson, who made a par putt on the first playoff hole and birdied the second hole to get the team in as the last seed in the 32-team field on Sunday evening.

“You’re so excited and amped to get in, and your prize is the No. 1 seed,” said Robertson. “But we’ve been on the other side of it. It was a long day. We teed off at 7:30 [Sunday morning] and didn’t get off the course until after 8 at night.”

Myers, 35, was a fifth-year senior when Robertson was a freshman at James Madison University, so they shared one year on the golf team. Although they kept their four-ball strategy simple, they appreciated the thinking required by the Pacific Dunes course.

“On some holes, you have to land it 30 yards short of the green,” said Robertson. “On others, it plays three extra clubs into the wind. You have to use your brain. It’s not like golf in a lot of the other states, where it’s check the yardage, pull a club.”

The duo is still mulling whether to enter the 2016 Women’s Four-Ball, scheduled for May 21-25, at Streamsong Resort, in Streamsong, Fla.

“It’s fun to be involved in historic things,” said Robertson. “I helped start a women’s golf program at Virginia Tech [in 2013], and now we’ve played in the first Women’s Four-Ball, in the first match. I’m all in that world – it’s pretty cool.”

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based golf writer and a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at temackinjr@gmail.com. Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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