Mary Jane Hiestand drew a notable honor in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, her 35th USGA championship.
The 56-year-old from Naples, Fla., was the first player to hit a tee shot in Saturday’s first round of the inaugural championship, followed by her partner, Tara Joy-Connelly. By coincidence, last week’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball trail-blazer, Ken Hudson, hails from Hiestand’s childhood hometown of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and grew up playing at the same club, Forest Lake Country Club.
“His family joined there when I was a junior member,” said Hiestand, who is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and a five-time Florida Senior Player of the Year. “Ken was a little bit younger than me, and when I saw the video of him hitting the first shot at the Four-Ball last week, I friended him on Facebook and said, Kenny I’m hitting the first ball, too!”
Hiestand, 56, is the assistant men’s golf coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Joy-Connelly, 42, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was a nine-time player of the year in her native Massachusetts and a semifinalist in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. How did they decide who would play first in Round 1?
“I really didn’t want to hit the first ball,” Joy-Connelly deadpanned.
“It became sort of a running joke last weekend,” said Hiestand. “She said, I think I’ll hit a 4-wood, and I told her she’d better lay a 6-iron back in her stance and just make contact.”
For the record, Hiestand drove the opening shot solidly and straight, but the round did not go as planned for the tandem, as they went 5 over on their first four holes on the way to a 6-over total of 78.
“I started off by hitting the greens and three-putting, and then I couldn’t hit a green,” said Hiestand. “Tara kept us in there, but I did not play well at all today.”
“After a few holes, I said, we knew we’d make some bogeys, we’ve just made them all already,” said Joy-Connelly.
By day’s end, the duo was just three strokes out of a tie for 32nd place in the 64-team field, the cutoff for a spot in the field for match play, which will be decided after Sunday’s second round of stroke play.
Bos Makes Ace, Spurs Celebration
After getting into the U.S. Women’s Four-Ball field as alternates, the team of Marie Bos and Courtney Tincher, of New York, N.Y., has had a pretty eventful championship. Tincher is playing with a broken foot, while Bos became aware during the practice rounds that the irons she intended to use in the championship did not conform to the Rules of Golf.
Bos secured rental clubs from Bandon Dunes, which she played with during the Friday practice round, then recorded the first hole-in-one of her career on the 154-yard 10th hole in Saturday’s first round of stroke play, which she celebrated with an impromptu dance across the teeing ground. The pair struggled to three consecutive double bogeys coming in to finish at 4-over 76 for the day.
“I made my hole-in-one with my all-time favorite club, my 7-wood,” said Bos, 29. “The club is an older club – OK, it’s actually vintage, but I don’t care. I made a hole-in-one with it.”
It was Bos’s second recent milestone on the golf course, having gotten engaged to Nate Burns, of Washington, D.C., on New Year’s Eve on the seaside seventh hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
“I guess I like the West Coast,” said Bos. “I met him on match.com, and his screen name had Pacific Dunes in it.”
Tincher, who turned 29 on Saturday, admitted that her broken foot began to bother her after 12 holes, but she was ready to put her feet up and enjoy a twin celebration with Bos and their playing companions, Martha Leach and Leach’s daughter, Madison Gerstle.
Pointing to Bos after the round, Leach said, “She owes us a drink for her hole-in-one and I owe her [Tincher] a drink for her birthday.”
Pictor Soldiers on After Partner’s Loss
Brenda Pictor and Susan Rheney were warming up for the championship on Thursday when Rheney received word that her mother was gravely ill. Rheney left immediately for Louisville, Ky., where she arrived early Friday afternoon. Her mother died at about 5 p.m. on Friday, with Rheney by her side.
Pictor is competing as a one-player side, permissible under the Rules, which do not allow for a substitute player.
“I was in touch with her [Rheney] this morning,” said Pictor, who has competed in eight U.S. Women’s Amateurs and was the stroke-play medalist in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “It’s been tough; obviously you understand the perspective that golf’s not everything. You have to be so mentally tough the whole time [as a one-player team]. I made a couple of mental errors and it cost me two doubles and a triple.”
Pictor, of Marietta, Ga., shot 86 and will compete again on Sunday.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.