Familiar foes atop leaderboard at Girls’ Junior Amateur

August 04, 2015

CLAYVILLE, N.Y. -- There figures to be a monumental battle between tournament-tough competitors as last year’s runner-ups Maren Cipolla and Chelsea Dantonio have created separation from the competition after the first round of the 53rd New York State Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship at Cedar Lake Club in Clayville.

Cipolla and Dantonio carded matching 2-over-par 74s Tuesday to take a three-shot lead over Lauren Kase and Carley Sawyer heading into Wednesday’s final round.

Cipolla and Dantonio tied for second at last year’s event, finishing two strokes behind champion, Marah Penn. They played in the final group last year and neither played their best. However, that experience should have them both ready to be at their best during Wednesday’s final round.

Cipolla showed strong mental toughness Tuesday by rebounding after a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 4th. The triple bogey dropped Cipolla to 3-over, but she responded with birdies on her next three holes to get back to even par. After three pars, Cipolla got into red numbers with a birdie on the par-5 11th. Cipolla then made a bad swing on 15 that resulted in a double bogey, and had a three-putt bogey on the par-4 18th.

“I didn’t hit it straight enough today,” said Cipolla. “But making three straight birdies after the triple bogey on No. 4 was the most important part of my round. To get back to even after that hole was extremely important.”

“You have to hit it straight here, and I didn’t do that much,” But now I know where to hit it to leave the best opportunities.”

Dantonio will take a different mindset while playing in this year’s final pairing with Cipolla.

“Last year I choked a bit and was paying too much attention to what Maren was doing,” said Dantonio, who will play at Division 1 Winthrop University in the fall. “I’m just going to concentrate on playing one shot at a time and playing the course instead of trying to respond to what my opponent is doing.”

Dantonio, out of Fox Valley Club, played steady golf with three bogeys and one birdie during the first round. She bogeyed 1, 12 and 15 while making birdie on the par-3 13th.

“My putting was very good today and the short game is key on this course,” Dantonio said. “I started hitting the ball better today than I’ve been hitting it … I hope I can continue that.”

--Nick Sardina