Reigning Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur champion Katie Miller of Jeannette earned a share of the lead after the opening round of qualifying for match play in the rescheduled U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Champions Golf Club’s Cypress Creek Course in Houston.
The 32-year-old Miller, a three-time PIAA champion as a standout at Hempfield Area who was an all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer at North Carolina, fired a 3-under-par 69 over the 6,022-yard, par-72 Cypress Creek layout Saturday to share the lead with Shannon Johnson, a 34-year-old Norton, Mass. resident who was the runnerup in this championship a year ago at The Kahkwa Club in Erie.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur was originally scheduled to be held last month at Quail Creek Country Club in Naples, Fla., but Hurricane Irma left the course unplayable. Champions stepped up and offered to stage the championship on short notice.
Earlier this year, Miller teamed with Aurora Kan, the 2010 PIAA champion as a senior at Chichester, to advance to match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They were ousted in the first round.
Miller captured the state Women’s Amateur title for the second time in three years, defeating Seton Hall sophomore and former Coatesville standout Sammie Staudt in the final at West Shore Country Club.
Miller’s round was highlighted by back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 as she reached the par-5 ninth hole in two and two-putted and hit a gap wedge to eight feet at the 10th and holed the birdie putt. She also had a good par save at the 17th after an errant drive.
Playing in her fourth U.S. Mid-Am, Miller knows that the important thing is getting into match play.
“My experience really helps,” Miller told the USGA website. “Just knowing that these two days are about consistency. My goal was making good swings and making good strokes. I figured if I commit to those two things, that I would be OK.”
Johnson used her power off the tee to dominate the par-5s at the Cypress Creek Course. She birdied the par-5 ninth, 11th and 13th holes.
Julia Potter of Indianapolis, who defeated Johnson in the final at The Kahkwa Club a year ago to win the UJ.S. Women’s Mid-Am for the second time, opened up with a 77 and is in good position to make match play in a tie for 31st.
The top 64 players after Sunday’s second round of qualifying advance to match play, which gets under way Monday.
Meghan Stasi, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Am champion from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is in good position to make match play as well as she carded a 4-over 76 that left her tied for 21st. The South Jersey native has won the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Match-Play Championship eight times, seven of them under her maiden name of Meghan Bolger.
The best score among the group that emerged from the qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at Concord Country Club belongs to Meghan Perry, a Wilmington, Del. resident who plays out of Wilmington Country Club. Perry is tied for 55th after posting an 8-over 80. Carol Davies of Garret Park, Md. is tied for 63rd after carding an 81.
Alyssa Roland, who lives and works in New York City, but still sneaks home as often as possible to play at Overbrook Golf Club, was the qualifying medalist at Concord. The 28-year-old Roland, the 2010 Ivy League champion at Yale, signed for an 83 and is tied for 81st.
Roland’s rival in the junior ranks, Catherine Elliott, who plays out of Merion Golf Club, is tied for 101st after posting an 85. The 29-year-old Elliott, a standout at the Academy of Notre Dame and at Penn, was the runnerup to Penn State junior Cara Basso in the Philadelphia Women’s Amateur final last summer.
Also at 85 is Katrin Wolfe, a standout at Westmont-Hilltop High School outside of Johnstown and at Penn State. Wolfe lost to Miller in the semifinals of the state Women’s Amateur at West Shore last summer.
By the way, Miller will take another shot in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship next spring at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif., but Kan won’t be her partner. Miller teamed up with 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief of Ashburn, Va. to advance out of a qualifier at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati in August.
Greenlief posted a 2-over 74 Saturday and is tied for 14th after the opening round of qualifying.