Cipolla outlasts Dantonio in playoff
CLAYVILLE, N.Y. -- Under blustery and unseasonably cool temperatures, Maren Cipolla made par on the first playoff hole to defeat Chelsea Dantonio and win the 53rd New York State Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship Wednesday at Cedar Lake Club in Clayville.
Cipolla and Dantonio battled from the opening hole, and both were forced to make some incredibly gutsy shots to stay with their competitor. They both finished with 3-over rounds Wednesday for a two-day total of 149, 11 shots ahead of their closest competitors. However, in the end, it was a Cipolla who came out on top.
After knocking in a tricky six-foot slider on the par-3 9th to force a playoff, Cipolla hit two solid shots on the first playoff hole (par-4 18th), and tapped in the winning par putt after Dantonio just missed her 10-foot uphill par putt that would’ve extended the match.
For Cipolla, it was all about getting over the hump.
“I’ve come in second so many times,” said Cipolla, who plays out of Park Country Club. “I finished second last year in this tournament and a bunch of times during junior tournaments. So it was really important for me to win in the last year that I can play in this event.”
Dantonio made Cipolla work hard for that elusive victory after a back-and-forth closing 18 holes in which both players enjoyed leads.
After matching 74s during Tuesday’s first round, Dantonio and Cipolla found themselves playing in the final group for the second straight year. Dantonio got off to a rough start, making a double-bogey six on the par-4 10th to fall two shots behind Cipolla. After Cipolla bogeyed the par-4 15th, the margin was cut in half, and after a birdie-bogey two-shot swing on the par-3 16th, Dantonio grabbed her first lead of the day.
After Dantonio bogeyed the par-4 18th, the race was back to even with nine holes remaining in regulation..
“I tried to not think of it as a match with just Chelsea,” Cipolla said. “But we were so close the whole day, it was very difficult not to think that way.”
After each played the next two holes at 1-over, Dantonio three-putted from 10 feet on the par-5 3rd hole to give Cipolla a one-shot advantage. Cipolla held that narrow edge through the next three holes, but the match was even again after Dantonio nearly aced the par-3 7th and tapped in from 14 inches.
“I made two big mistakes all day,” Dantonio said. “ I doubled the 10th and that three-putt from 10 feet on No. 3 really hurt. Those are the two holes I will think about, but I’m really proud of how I responded after missing that short putt on No. 3.
“What turned my day around was the birdie on seven,” Dantonio said. “It pulled me even, and I hit good shots coming in and had chances on eight and nine. I’m proud of the way I didn’t let it get to me and proud of how I played the rest of the round.”
During that stretch, Dantonio was firing at flags and had a 12-footer for birdie on the par-4 8th that she narrowly missed. She kept the pressure on by hitting her 7-iron pin high, and on the second tier of the difficult three-tier green on the par-3 9th. After Cipolla left her tee ball just short of the green, it looked like Dantonio had the title within her grasp.
Cipolla responded by using the perfect pace on her 55-foot putt, leaving herself with a six-footer for par. After Dantonio’s 10-foot birdie putt for the title came up six inches short, Cipolla drained her par putt to force a playoff.
Cipolla was proud of her scrambling on the final three holes.
“Nine was a tough up and down … 50 to 60 feet up the hill and over a ridge,” Cipolla said. “I was happy to get it to six feet. It was a just outside left putt, and there is nothing I hate more than left-to-right downhill putts, but I just picked my line and was confident, and it slid in the right side.”
Cipolla also was proud of her course management during the final round.
“The big thing today was I knew where not to miss it, and played target golf,” Cipolla said. “I learned from yesterday and just played smarter.”
Sarah Godfrey-Singleton and Sarah Marie Beckwith finished tied for third with a two-day total of 160. Lauren Kase and Carley Sawyer tied for fifth at 161.