Kahler Returns to the Winner's Circle in Women's Senior, Kelly Defends Super Senior Title
ITHACA, N.Y. -- In a runaway victory, Ballston Spa Country Club’s Susan Kahler claimed her second NYS Women’s Senior Amateur title.
The 2013 champion came into the final round with a three-stroke cushion and never surrendered the lead. She finished at 7-over 73-78-151.
This championship makes it four New York State titles for Kahler. In addition to her 2013 Women’s Senior, she captured the 2013 and 2014 NYS Mixed Team Championships with her brother Gary.
The front nine was not without blemishes for Kahler, who also won this year's Northeast Women's Golf Association championship. She started by going bogey-bogey on her first two holes and made the turn at 5-over for the round.
“I was nervous to start,” the Union College assistant women’s golf coach said. “I knew I had a the shot lead, which can disappear in an instant … my putter wasn’t working nearly as well as it was yesterday.”
A birdie on no. 10 helped settle Kahler down and she shot 1-over on the back nine to win comfortably by three strokes.
“It means so much to me,” Kahler said. “I’m 64-years-old and every year new gals come in … It’s another feather, I just appreciate the game and I love the game. I thank my father for teaching me the game. He’s still around at 93 and called me right after the round to congratulate me and that means a tremendous amount.”
Two players in Kahler’s group finished tied for second place, including her close friend Mary Scatena, of Pinehaven Country Club. Scatena and Carolyn Mancini, of Binghamton Country Club, both finished the tournament at 10-over 154.
Two-time Women's Senior champion Teresa Cleland of Bellevue Country Club made yet another appearance in the top five this year. She finished tied for fourth place with Christy Malo, of Park Country Club, at 16-over.
This was likely Kahler's last shot at the Anne Coupe Memorial Cup, as she will be eligible to compete in the super senior division next year.
The course was set up at 5,401 yards and played to a par of 72 for the senior division on Wednesday.
The 15th NYS Women’s Super Senior Amateur Championship came down to the wire on Wednesday.
The lead group of Columbia Golf & Country Club’s Karen Feldman, Ballston Spa Country Club’s Kathy Harkins, Oswego Country Club’s Barbara Harrison and defending champion Mary Jo Kelly, of Wolfert’s Roost Country Club, all walked up to the 18th tee in contention.
Harrison held a one-stroke lead over Kelly as none of the approach shots found the green. Feldman needed a birdie to give herself a chance but was unable to chip in, and settled for par.
Harkins was unable to get up and down and finished out her final round with a bogey to take her out of contention for the title.
That left just Harrison and Kelly with a chance to claim the championship. Kelly got her chip close after Harrison missed her par putt, leaving her with three feet for bogey, but her bogey putt lipped out and give Kelly an opportunity to win.
Kelly calmly poured in her par putt and walked off the green victorious for the second straight year. The Wolfert’s Roost product is now a three-time New York state champion, she claimed a state Women’s Amateur title in 1980.
Kelly’s front-nine was nothing to write home about, but she turned it around down the stretch to get right back in the mix.
“It was a tough 18 holes yesterday and a tough front nine today,” Kelly said. “I really was getting ready to think that I had to retire from competitive golf because I didn’t know whether I had the nerve anymore around the green. When we made the turn, I said ‘okay, let’s finish strong’ and I opened 10 with a birdie.”
Harrison’s day was almost the polar opposite of Kelly’s. She came out of the gates scorching hot, going 1-under on the front. Her back nine was less impressive, as she fell back to earth. She bogeyed four-straight before her double bogey on 18, which ultimately handed Kelly the title.
“I tried to stay moment to moment, tried to stay shot to shot and not think about that pressure,” Harrison said. “[Kelly] is a great competitor, she didn’t play well on the front, but she stuck with it, and I had a really bad miss on 18. It happens, it’s my own fault.”
Harrison played so well on the front that Kelly didn’t know she had won.
“I didn’t even know I was in the middle of anything,” Kelly said. “I thought I was four or five strokes behind.”
Harkins, who held the lead after round one, and Feldman both finished at 16-over 160 and tied for third.
Coming in at fifth place, with a final round 78, was Cornell University Golf Course’s Sharyn Costello. She finished at 19-over, playing right next door to her home course.
For the super senior division, the course played at 5,057 yards and to a par of 72.
Winner were recognized for gross and net in both championships, in the following age groups: 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75+
Gross Winners: Christy Malo of Park CC (50-54), Cecilia Campbell of Newman Municipal GC (55-59), Teresa Cleland of Bellevue CC (60-64), Karen Feldman of Columbia G&CC (65-69), Grace Kuqali of Beaver Meadows GC (70-74), and Sharyn Costello of Cornell University GC (75+).
Net Winners: Colleen Johnson of Queensbury CC (50-54), Kimberly Gier of Gowanda CC (55-59), Heidrun Bullmer of Newman Municipal GC (60-64), Wendy Bolton of LPGA Amateur Golf Assoc. Rochester (65-69), Colleen Roche of Radisson Greens GC (70-74) and Patricia Roadarmel of Drumlins CC (75+).