Kayla Holden wins Sea Island Women’s Amateur Championship
Kayla Holden hit perhaps the best 6-iron of her life on Thursday afternoon on the 18th green of the Seaside Course to finish with a birdie last and claim victory in the Sea Island Women’s Amateur.
The University of Tennessee golfer blocked her approach from 165 yards into the elevated green about six feet below the hole and sank the putt for a three to earn a two-stroke victory in only the second edition of this tournament played at Sea Island Golf Club on the Georgian coast.
“It was the perfect number,” Holden said of his second shot in 18.
Holden, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., thought she should do something special like she said to gain regulation. Late in the round, she was tied for the lead with defending champion Hannah Levi who plays at Mississippi State with College of Charleston standout Emma Schimpf.
But Schimpf fell out of favor when she couldn’t save par from a greenside bunker on the par-3 17th hole, then triple-bogeyed on the last when her second shot from a run down the fairway found a water obstacle well. short of green.
Schimpf ended up settling for a 1-of-71 that day and a 2-of-212 total for all three runs, which left her tied for fifth.
Levi dropped a shot at the par-4 16th and parried the final two holes to post an even score of 210 over the three rounds that included his 1-under 69 in the closing round. She would finish tied for second place this summer with Kentucky native Laney Frye, who also shot a tied 210 for the week after a final 68.
Frye, who plays at the University of Kentucky and played earlier this summer at the US Women’s Open, also tied for second last year at the inaugural Sea Island event as she finished at less than 3 years old. Frye was ahead after the first round this week when she netted a 4-under 66 that was the best single-round score of this year’s tournament.
Levi, a Mississippi native who won last July at under 7, started the final 18 on Thursday five shots behind second-round leader Caroline Patterson who settled for a 75 in the final round after shooting 69-67 the first two days to take the lead. in the third round.
Patterson, who is from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and will join Holden in Tennessee in the fall to begin his college career, was fourth in solo for the week at 1 of 211.
“I’ve known her for a long time,” Holden said of Patterson. “We played junior golf together. I was thrilled to play with her today and can’t wait to play with her in Tennessee.
Holden started the day just two strokes behind Patterson as they played in the final duet with Ohio State senior Lauren Peter, who would finish tied for fifth at 2-over.
Holden made eight pars and a bogey on his outside nine and birdied twice including the big one at 18 and a bogey on the par-5 15th hole from the back for a level 70 score.
A day earlier, she eagled at 15 which put her in the red numbers and she would post a 68 for the second round. Holden started the tournament with an even par of 70 in Tuesday’s first round.
Of course, the shot she will long remember is that 6-iron approach to the 18th hole on Thursday. It allowed her to wrap up what she said was the biggest victory at this stage of her promising career due to the strength of the pitch and the region.
“Sea Island is a special place with a lot of history. A lot of great players have won here,” Holden said.
Now his name is among the champions crowned at the renowned Georgian coast site, where many amateur championships have been held for decades, while Sea Island has also hosted the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic hosted by the Davis Love Foundation since 2010.
Holden’s victory by the sea was also very special because his parents were there for every shot. Her mother watched as her father worked with her as a caddy for the week. Russ Holden was the trainer and caddy of two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer and also runs Caddy for a Cure on the PGA Tour.
“He knows my game better than anyone and I trust him,” Holden said. “He kept me calm there.”
And, there was another reward waiting for Holden on the way back to Florida after playing his last tournament of the summer this week. There will be a stop at the ever-popular mega-convenience store Buc-ee’s, which has a growing chain of stores across the country.
She was promised some tasty treats from there on Wednesday night by mum if she won on Thursday.
“We’re going to the closest,” Holden said.
The closest location was just over an hour south of Interstate 95, just outside the entrance to the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida.
“I’m going to get whatever I want,” she added.
Mom nodded in approval as she listened nearby.
ABOUT Sea Island Female Lover
Drawing inspiration from the highly successful Jones Cup Invitational tournaments at Sea Island and Ocean Forest Golf Club, which began in 2001, the Women’s Amateur continues Jones Cup tradition by attracting the nation’s top female golfers to the class Sea Island World. The format is 54 holes in stroke play with a court limit of 84 players.
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