U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
Stroke Play, Round 1: Live Updates September 10, 2016 | Erie, Pa.

Kim Benedict is trying to conquer The Kahkwa Club and advance to match play. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Home

8:52 p.m. EDT: Although holes 10 through 18 at The Kahkwa Club feature two par 5s, U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur competitors are quickly learning that the outward nine of the Donald Ross design offers more scoring opportunities. Three of the four easiest holes during Round 1 (Nos. 2, 3 and 9) are on the front and overall, the front (40.434) is playing about a stroke easier than the back (41.403), with six players yet to complete Round 1. A pair of players in particular, Liliana Ruiz and Judith Kyrinis, started their rounds on No. 10 and struggled at the outset, but jumped back into contention for match play with solid inward nines. Ruiz, of Colombia, went out in 43, then made a triple bogey on hole No. 5, her 14th of the day, before making three straight birdies to notch a 36 on Kahkwa’s front nine. Kyrinis, the runner-up in the 2014 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, went out in 41 before playing holes 1 through 9 in 1-under 35. 

7:05 p.m. EDT: U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur competitors LeeAnn Lewis, of Great River, N.Y., and Lisa McGill, of Philadelphia, have captured numerous state and regional golf championships, but their adventurous spirit ranges far outside golf course boundaries. The two scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011, and last September, they trekked to the  base camp for Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. Ron Driscoll chronicles their quarter-century of adventure travel.

6:36 p.m. EDT: Round 1 of stroke play has been suspended for the day as of 6:27 p.m. EDT due to inclement weather. Play will resume on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. EDT.

5:55 p.m. EDT: Julia Potter has posted the first under-par round of the championship, birdieing the par-4 18th hole to post a 1-under 71 at The Kahkwa Club. Potter, the 2013 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion, carded four birdies against just three bogeys on Saturday to give her the clubhouse lead. Playing well in stroke play could foreshadow success once match play begins: Potter was the stroke-play medalist in 2013 before eventually capturing the title at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, N.C. 

4:25 p.m. EDT: One player making waves at The Kahkwa Club Saturday afternoon is 2013 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Julia Potter. Starting on No. 1, Potter, 28, shot 1-under 35 on her outward nine, and is even through 11 holes. With the field currently averaging just over 40 strokes on the outward nine, Potter, of Indianapolis, Ind., has put herself in excellent position early on in the championship.

Potter became the first left-handed female to win a USGA championship when she defeated Margaret Shirley-Starosto in 19 holes at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, N.C. The two squared off in the championship match again the following year, with Shirley-Starosto prevailing, 5 and 3, at Harbour Trees Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind.

 

3:03 p.m. EDT: The Kahkwa Club is a Donald Ross gem with an unusual configuration – only one par 3 and one par 5 on the outward nine. The inward nine has a more typical two par 3s and two par 5s to create its overall par of 72. That leaves 12 par-4 holes ranging from 311 to 384 yards, and those two-shotters were creating much of the difficulty on a blustery first day of stroke play.

“I didn’t realize that there was going to be so much wind today, so it was definitely take it one hole at a time,” said Shannon Johnson, who had the best score of the morning wave, an even-par 72. “When we made the turn to the back nine, it seemed like the wind changed and it was swirling a little bit, which it made it a little more difficult to get some club selections right and get dialed in.”

The toughest seven holes of the day thus far are par 4s, led by the uphill 10th, which measures 365 yards. Its stroke average for the first 99 players to pass through was 4.88, and fewer than a third of them (31) managed to par it, with a lone birdie against 50 bogeys and 17 double bogeys or higher. That hole was followed closely by No. 7, No. 5 and the double whammy of Nos. 17 and 18. All of those holes were playing at 4.72 or higher.

The overall scoring average through 2:45 p.m. EDT was 81.5, with the incoming nine (41.2) playing slightly higher than the outward nine (40.4).

For a full look at Course Statistics, click here.

2:36 p.m. EDT: With Saturday’s morning wave complete, Shannon Johnson holds the clubhouse lead at even-par 72. The Norton, Mass., resident earned low-individual honors at last year’s USGA Women’s State Team and continued her streak of successful USGA championship play.

“I think (Kahkwa) sets up really well for my game,” said Johnson, whose 4-under 212 at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Mo., set the Women’s State Team scoring record. “It’s a very target-oriented golf course, which I love. I seem to play better at those. When we played (USGA Women’s) State Team last year, it was kind of the same thing. Very get it off the tee, in the fairway. You had to be in the right quadrants of the green as well. I seemed to be, for the most part, in the right spots.”

Johnson put herself in prime position to reach match play, and likely has her fingers crossed that she doesn’t have to face 2010 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin. Hardin eliminated Johnson in the Round of 64 of the 2008 Women’s Mid-Amateur, and also emerged the victor in their Round-of-16 meeting in 2014.

Saturday has been a challenge at The Kahkwa Club, but Shannon Johnson was able to battle her way to an even-par performance. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

2:05 p.m. EDT: At Friday’s Players Dinner, Lauren Greenlief related to the crowd just how quickly she realized the magnitude of winning last year’s championship in Choudrant, La. After she sank the clinching putt on the 17th green at Squire Creek Country Club, she turned to her 71-year-old caddie, Danny Bannister, who had tears in his eyes.

Greenlief’s march to victory in her first Women’s Mid-Am came as a relative unknown. This week at The Kahkwa Club, the resident of Reston, Va., is seeing the other side of the coin.

“It’s definitely a different feeling than flying under the radar,” said Greenlief, who received an exemption into the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill event in May. “The Rules officials all know me and say hi to me. It puts a little more pressure on you. I want to go out and play well for me and didn’t quite do that today.”

Greenlief opened her defense with an 8-over-par 80, which included six bogeys and a double bogey on the par-4 17th hole.

“It was a little bit frustrating – I thought I drove the ball well in the wind pretty much all the way around,” said Greenlief, a University of Virginia graduate. “I hit the irons a little shaky and came up short with some of my wedge shots. And I didn’t roll any putts in today.”

The management consultant knows what needs to improve in Sunday’s second round of stroke play.

“I’ve always been a good ball-striker,” she said. “Putting is something that’s come a little less naturally and something I’ve had to work toward. I felt like I rolled a lot of good mid-range putts, which is encouraging going into tomorrow. I’ve just got to get one or two of them to drop.”

Lauren Greenlief had a disappointing start to her U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title defense on Saturday. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

1:28 p.m. EDT: 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Margaret Shirley-Starosto has advanced to the final match in this championship each of the last three years, so most people would expect her to be a factor deep into the week. In addition, this year’s venue, The Kahkwa Club, holds happy memories for her as the site of the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur, where Shirley-Starosto reached the Round of 16 at age 18.

“I remember just how much I like this golf course, so that’s always a good thing, and I knew how challenging it was,” said Shirley-Starosto, who was upbeat after her round of 5-over-par 77 on Saturday. “The best [Women’s] Amateur I ever played was here. I definitely have good vibes coming here. It was 12 years ago; I’m such a different player than I was.”

Shirley-Starosto, 30, is one of three players in this field who played in the Women’s Amateur in 2004, along with Meghan Stasi and Katrin Wolfe, and she knows that the golf course and the conditions will provide a formidable challenge.

“You can’t fake your way around this golf course. If you’re not hitting good shots, you’re going to have some difficulties,” she said. “Normally the wind doesn’t affect your putting, but there were some putts out there [today] that I was thinking about what the wind was doing. On [No. 9], I made a 30-footer, but I hit [the putt] a lot harder than I normally would have because of the wind.”

Margaret Shirley-Starosto competed in the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur at The Kahkwa Club (left). She's back here this week for the Women's Mid-Amateur (right). 

11:59 a.m. EDT: Playing together in the 9 a.m. grouping off of hole No. 1, Shannon Johnson, of Norton, Mass., and Tara Joy-Connelly, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (pictured), made the turn in the first round of stroke play at The Kahkwa Club at 1 under par. Johnson, 33, was the low individual in last year’s USGA Women’s State Team Championship while helping Massachusetts to a fourth-place finish. A recreational hockey player who grew up in South Dakota and won more than a dozen events in her home state, Johnson set the Women’s State Team 54-hole scoring record at 4-under-par 212. Joy-Connelly, 43, who won the 2015 Florida Women’s Mid-Amateur, is a Massachusetts native who was named the Bay State’s Player of the Decade for the 2000s and has teamed with fellow Women’s Mid-Am competitor Meghan Stasi to twice win the Women’s International Four-Ball title.   

Tara Joy-Connelly has made her mark in the amateur game in both her native Massachusetts and adopted home state of Florida. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

11:18 a.m. EDT: In the top 5 in the early going at The Kahkwa Club is four-time U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi. The Oakland Park, Fla., resident, who most recently won in 2012, shot a 1-over 37 on her first nine this morning, starting her round on No. 10. Stasi, 38, is one of 10 USGA champions in the field at the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur. Some more facts and figures about the field:

10:54 a.m. EDT: The facts and figures for Round 1 of stroke play here at The Kahkwa Club.

 

10:28 a.m. EDT: One player who is off to a flying start during Round 1 of stroke play is Ann Miles, of Dublin, Ohio. The former NCAA Division II All-American for Ashland (Ohio) University has a clean card through the opening nine at The Kahkwa Club in her USGA championship debut. The 27-year-old is a personal lines underwriter for Nationwide Insurance. For more about Women's Mid-Am competitors, see our storylines for this week

9:58 a.m. EDT: The Kahkwa Club has hosted two previous USGA championships, the 1971 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur. In 2004, Michelle Wie made a stir at age 14 with her prodigious drives during stroke play. She qualified for match play, where she was eliminated in the second round by another future major champion, Inbee Park. More on this from the USGA's Ron Driscoll.

Michelle Wie was just 14 years old when she teed it up in the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur at The Kahkwa Club. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

9:20 a.m. EDT: Women's Mid-Amateur competitors are playing Round 1 under the spector of inclement weather on Saturday. There was light precipitation overnight before the start of the championship, so the course is playing damp, something competitors had a chance to experience during Thursday's practice round. 

“I feel confident that our group is going to get through [Saturday]. I’m concerned for the people that are teeing off later," said Meghan Christensen, of Houston, Texas, on Friday. "It’s playing a little heavy, the grass is heavy and the air is a little heavier, so the ball isn’t going as far. [6,125 yards] is going to be playing more like 6,300 yards.”

The Erie, Pa., area has seen approximately 1.15 inches of rain since Thursday.

8:22 a.m. EDT: The 30th U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship is underway from The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa. Round 1 of stroke play began at 8 a.m. EDT, with 2014 champion Margaret Shirley-Starosto, of Woodstock, Ga., hitting the first ball off of the first tee. She was followed by playing partners Danielle Proctor, of Sewickley, Pa., and Julie Carmichael, of Avon, Ind. The championship begins with 132 players, who will play two rounds of stroke play. The field will then be cut to 64 players for match play. 

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