Lilly Thomas of Bentonville, Arkansas, made a 40-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win the 91st playing of the LNGA Amateur Championship on Wednesday at the Country Club of St. Albans (Missouri).
Thomas, a junior at the University of Tulsa, opened up a four-stroke lead by shooting 8-under 136 over the first two days, but that lead was cut to one after seven holes of the final day. Thomas was 4-over through 10 holes – which included making bogey after a lost ball – and had to play her last eight holes in 2 under to make it into a playoff at 6-under 210 with Ashley Lau from the University of Michigan. If not for a 12-foot birdie putt that Thomas made on the final hole, Lau would have been the champion.
Leila Raines of Michigan State University was also at that 6-under number with two holes to play, but she bogeyed the 17th to settle for third.
“It was a grind the whole day, started off a little rough on the third hole with a lost ball, but birdied the second ball to just make bogey,” Thomas said. “I got to the back nine and that’s where I was making birdies the most the first two days so I knew I could get it rolling on the back.”
The playoff appeared destined to be longer than one hole. Both Thomas and Lau hit the green but left themselves lengthy birdie efforts. Lau went first, lagging her birdie try to within tap-in range to secure her par.
And then Thomas made the putt of her life.
“I was excited to play 18 again for the playoff,” Thomas said. “I saw that break before with my playing partner, so I had a pretty good idea of what it was going to do.”
Hannah Levi, a rising Mississippi State junior from D'Iberville, Mississippi, shot 7-under 203 to win the first Sea Island Women’s Amateur on Thursday at Sea Island (Ga.) Golf Club.
The event was created with aspirations of being the female equivalent to the Jones Cup Invitational, a prestigious men’s amateur event with one of the deepest fields of the year. Tournament organizers were pleased with the outcome, and they got a solid winner in Levi, who recently finished top five in the SEC Championship and won a big college event last fall.
Levi opened the event by going 65-66 and won by four strokes over Kentucky’s Laney Frye and Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn despite making a double bogey on her final hole.
The Seaside Course, which hosts the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic and the SEC Men’s Championship, was the site for the Sea Island Women’s Am. Hot and humid conditions didn’t bother Levi, who lives on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.
Levi is now headed to the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but not as a competitor. She will be caddying for a close friend.
Canada’s Lauren Zaretsky of Thornhill, Ontario, shot a final-round 70 on Friday to capture her country’s Women’s Amateur Championship at Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club in Spruce Grove, Alberta.
Zaretsky won the 107th playing of the event by finishing at 2-under 286, two strokes clear of Nicole Gal, the recent Canadian Junior Girls champion. The victory gives Zaretsky exemptions into the U.S. Women’s Amateur this week at Westchester Country Club and next year’s CP Women’s Open at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. The CP Women’s Open was not contested this year due to the pandemic.
The field in the Canadian Women’s Amateur normally includes a strong American presence, and four of the previous five winners were from the U.S. However, this year’s field was made up only of Canadians because of border restrictions. The last time a Canadian won was Augusta James in 2014.
Notable past winners of the Canadian Women’s Amateur include Jennifer Kupcho (2017), Brooke Henderson (2013) and Ariya Jutanugarn (2012).
Staff and Wire Reports