Kayla Lawrence of Deland, Florida birdied two of her final three holes en-route to capturing the 19th Connecticut Women’s Open Championship presented by the Lincoln Motor Company. The tournament, which is open to female amateur and professional golfers, was played May 30th – 31st at Torrington Country Club in Goshen, Conn.
A total of fourteen players began the final round within four shots of overnight leader Melissa Siviter of Alpharetta, Georgia, whose opening round of 70 gave her a one shot advantage. Things only got tighter throughout the day, with eight different players holding a share of the lead throughout the day and no player holding more than a one-shot lead.
Playing in the final group with Siviter, Lawrence played steady throughout much of the day, keeping pace with the leaders and holding a share of the lead until a bogey on the 13th hole dropped her to even par for the tournament. Even still, standing on the 16th tee, she was one of ten players that were within a shot of the lead.
“I was just trying to keep it together for most of the day,” said Lawrence. “Fortunately, I hit some great shots and made some great putts down the stretch when it mattered most.”
After a monster tee shot on the par-5 16th, Lawrence was left with only 185 yards into the green. She hit a 4-iron onto to the green to within 25 feet of the hole, nearly missed her eagle opportunity, and tapped in for birdie to get into red numbers at one under-par.
“After I made birdie on #16, we heard a big roar up at the clubhouse, so I wasn’t quite sure what was going on but I had a feeling it was something big and I figured I needed another birdie to have a chance,” said Lawrence.
There isn’t much doubt that the shot of the tournament came on the par-3 17th. With Alexa Re Rancourt of Simpsonville, South Carolina shooting a final round 69 to post the clubhouse lead at one under-par, Lawrence needed a birdie on one of the final two holes. From the tee at 170 yards, Lawrence nearly made an ace, hitting it to within two feet for a tap-in birdie and sole possession of the lead.
From there, she was able to navigate the difficult par-4 18th hole and a two-putt par secured her a two under-par total (71-71—142), the Women’s Open title and $4,000 first place check.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I don’t even know what to think yet. I’ve been having a rough time with my game lately, to a point where I almost thought about quitting a few months ago. It’s just an awesome feeling right now and so rewarding after all the struggles and hard work I’ve put in.
The win marks her first win as a professional, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the 26 year-old who is in the early stages of what promises to be a successful professional career. Lawrence, who played collegiate golf for the University of Tulsa and turned professional last June, plans on continuing to play in mini-tour and state open events before LPGA Qualifying School begins in August.
Low Amateur Honors
Mia Landegren of Bridgewater, Conn. shot a final round two under-par 70 to jump into a tie for twelfth place, earning her low amateur honors. Landegren is the 2012 Connecticut Women’s Amateur Champion and recently finished up her senior season at the University of Alabama, where she played on their Division I collegiate golf team.
Jessica Carafiello of Innis Arden Golf Club and Stamford, Conn. was in the mix for much of Wednesday’s final round, but a pair of costly bogies on her 14th and 17th hole cost her a chance at becoming the first repeat champion since Megan Khang (2014-15). Despite a closing 74, Carafiello finished in a tie for eighth place and was the low Connecticut finisher among the field of 81 competitors.
After shooting an opening round 79 (+7), Gabrielle Shipley of Hastings, Michigan knew she would need a stellar round just to break into the top-10. But after stringing together eight birdies and just two bogies, Shipley found herself in contention for the Women’s Open title. Her final round 66 (-6) gave her a one over-par total, which looked like it would have a chance for a playoff for much of the afternoon. Although she would finish in a tie for fourth place, her 66 set the new competitive women’s course record at Torrington Country Club.