While several of her Penn State teammates headed for the prestigious North & South Women’s Amateur Championship at the Pinehurst Resort last week, Cara Basso stayed home and snagged a pretty prestigious championship of her own.
Anytime you can add your name to a trophy that has names like Dottie Porter, Helen Sigel Wilson, Ann Laughlin, Meghan Stasi (Meghan Bolger for the first seven of her eight titles) and Laura Hammond on it, that’s the kind of club, as a golfer, you want to join. They’re just some of the notables whose names are etched on the Glenna Collett Vare Cup that goes to the winner of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Match-Play Championship, the Philadelphia Women’s Amateur, for short.
And Basso, a junior on Denise St. Pierre’s Nittany Lions, did just that with a hard-fought 4 and 3 victory over Merion Golf Club’s Catherine Elliott in a scheduled 36-hole final at Spring-Ford Country Club last Friday that was probably played in some occasional rain showers.
Basso won the PIAA Class AA title as a sophomore at Villa Maria Academy in 2012 and was part of a push by St. Pierre to lure as many of Pennsylvania’s top scholastic players to State College as she could. And Basso has proven to be a solid addition for a program that is working its way up a tough Big 10 ladder.
Before she reached the final matchup against Elliott, Basso, playing out of Whitford Country Club, had to survive a tough semifinal with Katie Edelblut of Trenton Country Club that took 23 holes to decide. Elliott knocked off Suzi Spotleson of RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve, 5 and 4, in the other semifinal. Spotleson was the qualifying medalist with a 1-over 74.
Elliott was a formidable opponent for Basso. The Academy of Notre Dame product played in the 2010 NCAA West Regional as a senior after helping Penn capture the Ivy League title.
Elliott has become a key member of Merion’s top entry in the WGAP Inter-Club Team Matches. Merion just keeps on keeping on in that department, claiming the Philadelphia Cup for a record 69th time in the long history of the series of matches this spring.
Basso and Elliott traded blows in a tight first 18 holes of the final.
Elliot grabbed a 2-up lead by winning the second with a par and the third with a birdie. But Basso answered with birdies on three of the next four holes to take a 1-up advantage. Both players birdied the par-5 18th to allow Basso to go into the afternoon half of the match maintaining that slim 1-up advantage.
Basso won the 19th hole with a birdie and the 20th with a par to go 3-up. Elliott got one back by winning the 21st hole with a par, but Basso quickly restored her 3-up advantage by winning the 22nd hole with a par. Elliott never got closer than 3-down the rest of the way.
The first-flight title went to Overbrook Golf Club’s Karen McFadden, who edged Karen Hendricks of Indian Valley Country Club on the 19th hole.
None of Basso’s three Penn State teammates who ventured to Pinehurst made it to the match-play bracket of the North & South, although sophomore Madelein Herr, a former Council Rock North standout, came close.
Herr, coming off a solid freshman season with the Nittany Lions, fired an opening-round 73 and appeared to be in good shape to make match play, but struggled home in the second round with an 82 and missed the match-play cut by a single shot with her 155 total.
Jackie Rogowicz, a former Pennsbury standout who is a junior at Penn State, had rounds of 82 and 79 for a 161 total and classmate Lauren Waller, the 2014 PIAA Class AAA runnerup as a senior at Canon-McMillan, had rounds of 78 and 87 for a 165 total.
The North & South crown went to 16-year-old Isabella Fierro of Mexico, who outlasted Virginia junior Anna Redding, 2 and 1, in the final. Redding, a native of Concord, N.C., has been a perennial contender in the North & South.
Fierro has been mentored by no less than Lorena Ochoa-Reyes and is just the latest in a generation of Mexican players who have been inspired by the exploits of Ochoa-Reyes on the golf course.
Redding had to make her way through the top of the Alabama lineup to get to the final. She knocked off defending North & South champion and qualifying medalist Kristen Gillman, a sophomore with the Crimson Tide from Austin, Texas, 1-up in the quarterfinals. Then Redding claimed a 2 and 1 victory over Alabama’s Lakareber Abe, a senior from Angleton, Texas.
Fierro reached the final with a 2-up semifinal triumph over recent Duke graduate Sandy Choi.