Saturday, January 12, 2013


Normally a top 10 finish in the South Atlantic Amateur championship would have pleased Kelsey MacDonald because it is arguably the top event on Florida's Orange Blossom Tour.
But not this time. The Stirling University student, third last weekend in the Harder Hall Invitational, finished joint eighth after being in contention through the first 54 holes and starting the final round only one shot behind the leader, Kelly Shon.
Shon wrapped up a one-stroke victory from fellow American Shannon Aubert with a 69 for nine-under-par 279.
But MacDonald, for some reason, produced her worst round of the four, a seven-over-par 79, just when she needed her best to have a chance of winning.
The 22-year-old, who will turn pro later this year, said later: 
"I was feeling OK but just felt my timing was out today. It's all been quite intense the last couple months I guess. Day off tomorrow (Sunday) and start again Monday (in the Jones-Doherty match-play tournament at Fort Lauderdale).
The Nairn Dunbar GC member claimed 17 birdies over her first three rounds but not one in her last 18 holes. A double bogey 7 at the fifth was the low light of her round which contained bogeys at the first, third, fifth, ninth and 14th in halves of 42 and 37.
Shon, a third-year student at Princeton University, New York State, came home in 33, with birdies at the 12th, 15th and 17th, to hold off the challenge from Aubert whose closing four-birdie, bogey-free 68 was the best of the final day
Eilidh Briggs was Stirling University's second-highest finisher with a 75 for 301 and a share of 23rd place. The Kilmacolm player birdied the first two holes and then dropped six shots between the sixth and the 13th before ending her round with a birdie.
Eilidh now flies back to Scotland to start a placement as a PE teacher.
Annabel Dimmock, 16-year-old Wentworth junior, finished joint 35th with a 75 for 309 and a share of 35th place in a starting field of 72.
Annabel had six birdies over her first 36 holes but only one in each of her third and fourth rounds. 
Chloe Rogers (Braintree), winner of an Olympic bronze medal as a member of the Great Britain women's hockey team last summer, had a nightmare last round of 88 which included a 9 at the par-4 13th and double bogeys at the eighth, 11th and short 14th in halves of 42 and 46.
A four-handicapper at her Essex club, Rogers finished 52nd on 321.
Hannah McCook from Nethy Bridge came third in the Stirling squad rankings. She had an 82 for 323  

Par 288 (4x72)
Players from USA unless stated
279 Kelly Shon 67 69 74 69
280 Shannon Aubert 68 72 72 68
282 Alex Stewart 70 74 68 70
285 Cindy Feng 67 79 70 69
286 Ashlan Ramsay 72 73 72 69
287 Krista Puisite 69 71 77 70
289 Nelly Korda 74 69 76 70
290 Kelsey MacDonald (Stirling Univ) 69 69 73 79, Brooke Baker 73 76 68 73, Kuriko Tsukiyamo 78 74 67 71 (T8).

301 Eilidh Briggs (Stirling Univ) 73 76 77 75 (T23)
309 Annabel Dimmock (Wentworth) 74 76 84 75 (T35)
321 Chloe Rogers (Braintree) 79 77 77 88 (52nd)
323 Hannah McCook (Stirling Univ) 79 78 84 82 (T54)
330 Jordana Graham (Stirling Univ) 84 85 87 74 
344 Georgia Gilling (Stirling Univ) 92 85 80 87 




ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Down the stretch in the final round of the South Atlantic Amateur (Sally), Kelly Shon got resourceful.
On the amateur circuit, there are no electronic leaderboards, and no coach is standing nearby with live scoring on her phone. So Shon pulled out her range finder on the 17th tee, not to scope a yardage but to size up the competition. Among the final group, she had a two-shot advantage, but a look up the fairway showed that Shannon Aubert was 4 under on the day, and tied with Shon at 8 under for the tournament.
“I figured I needed to made a birdie (at No. 17),” she recalled after the round.
Shon had birdied Oceanside Country Club’s 17th the previous day to keep her one-shot advantage on Kelsey MacDonald. On Saturday, Shon took advantage of a good drive, laid up her second shot then hit a knock-down wedge to 9 feet. She easily made the putt to get to 9 under.
 At No. 18, with a crowd of locals pressed around the green, Shon stuck her approach to 20 feet, and two-putted for a final-round 69 and the most prestigious victory of her amateur career. Other victories for Shon, No. 48 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, include three collegiate titles in the past 2 1/2 years at Princeton, and three AJGA titles as a junior.
“It feels amazing,” said Shon, a New Yorker who was a last-minute entry into the Sally. “I was so nervous coming down the stretch, but I’m just really proud of myself for the way I handled my back nine, considering everything.”
Shon’s last victory, at the Lehigh Invitational in October, also came down to the wire. At that tournament, she had to birdie No. 18 to win.
Shon had little time to collect her trophy as the sun went down on Saturday evening. She had a quick flight to catch back to Princeton. Final exams await.
As for Aubert, who finished one shot behind Shon at 8-under 280, next week starts another tournament. Aubert will play the AJGA Annika Invitational for the fourth time in her career. It’s a home game for the 17-year-old, who plays and practises out of Reunion Resort, the tournament venue.
Last year’s runner-up finish at the Annika was among a series of close calls for Aubert. She also finished T-3 at the Thunderbird International Junior and T-4 at the Ping Invitational. Aubert, Golfweek’s No. 8-ranked junior, is overdue for a win, but she’s moving in the right direction.
Aubert regrouped from second- and third-round 72s to shoot a 68 in the final round of the Sally. She only missed two greens, and had neither a three-putt nor a bogey.
“Today I really did everything I could,” she said at the end of the day.
Aubert also finished T-19 at the Harder Hall Invitational and T-13 at the Dixie Women’s Amateur.
“I feel like my game is doing a lot better than it has been,” Aubert said. “I’m hitting my irons a lot more solid and putting is pretty good. I just need to work out some tweaks in my chipping.”
With the Sally’s bronze medal, Alex Stewart will return to Norman, Okla., to continue work on her game. The 20-year-old is originally from Elk Grove, Calif., but moved to Oklahoma in the past year when her dad went there for a job. She plays and practices out of Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, where the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links will be played later this year.
Stewart spent one year on the Purdue roster before transferring to Colorado. She led the team in scoring during a historic season that included the first trip to the NCAA Championship in program history. Stewart left Colorado at the end of last year to fine-tune her game after a major swing change, and the Sally showed marked progress.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played well in a tournament,” she said. “I kind of struggled over the summer with my swing, so just to get back into tournament mode, it takes a little bit.”
Stewart put pressure on Shon until the 13th hole, where she hit a 5-wood into the green and a bad kick off the bank of the green set her up for bogey. She never could recover. Still, with more tournament finishes like this, a pro career could be right around the corner.
“I think it just depends how I play in the summer,” she said. “If I feel like I’m ready, then I’ll give it a shot.”