119th Mass. Women’s Am: Springfield’s Jaelyn Deboise survives playoff to earn match play spot (PHOTOS)

  • Morgan Smith, of Tyngsborough’s Vesper Country Club, watches her drive off No. 2 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Morgan Smith, of Tyngsborough’s Vesper Country Club, putts on No. 1 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • The Orchard Golf Clubs’s Ryley Regan, of Granby, tees off on No. 1 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Molly Smith, of Tyngsborough’s Vesper Country Club, hits from the No. 13 fairway during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Annie Dai, of Longmeadow, tees off on No. 11 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Defending champion Catie Schernecker tees off on No. 10 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Annie Dai, of Longmeadow, putts on No. 18 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Maddie Smith, of Mount Pleasant Golf Club, tees off on No. 1 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Morgan Smith, of Tyngsborough’s Vesper Country Club, putts on No. 2 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Annie Dai, of Longmeadow, putts on No. 10 during the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Sisters Molly and Morgan Smith, of Tyngsborough’s Vesper Country Club, practice on the putting green before starting out on the 119th Massachusetts Women's Amateur Championship on Tuesday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer 
Published: 8/16/2022 9:01:19 PM
Modified: 8/16/2022 8:57:51 PM

SOUTH HADLEY – Jaelyn Deboise hasn’t always had the best of luck when it comes to the Mass. Women’s Amateur Championship.

“Every year I always play super bad in this tournament. So I never make the cut,” Deboise, who’s a member of Springfield Country Club and new graduate of Pope Francis, said. “I don't know what it is.” 

Her luck changed for the better on Tuesday afternoon. Deboise was one of 32 golfers to advance to match play at the 119th edition of the prestigious tournament at The Orchards Golf Club. She needed to withstand a playoff to advance, but settled down after a tough round earlier in the day (17-over 89) to secure her spot in Wednesday’s match play bracket.

Six golfers were on the cusp and needed to compete in a playoff for one of five available spots – Deboise, Rio Pearstein, Madalin Small, Amy Lyon, Mary Chamberlain and Mary Mulcahy. 

“I was only nervous because [Tuesday] was one of the worst rounds I've had in a very long time. So I didn't know what to expect,” Deboise said  “I didn’t know I would be in a playoff… You just get into a different head space. You just kind of get quiet, headed right to the range.” 

It took just one hole to finalize the match play positions – Deboise, Pearstein, Small, Lyon and Chamberlain all bogeyed the first hole at The Orchards, while Mulcahy fell just short after a double-bogey.

Deboise said getting into match play on Wednesday is icing on the cake.

“[Wednesday], I'm just excited to play in it. Obviously I'm going to try my best, but I'm gonna be playing against some very good players, so just staying in it,” Deboise said. “I'm just excited to have a new fresh restart after a bad day.”

Match play begins Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. Golfers will face off in a head-to-head round Round of 32, with winning golfers advancing to the Round of 16 – also to be played on Wednesday. Quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Thursday with the championship match on Friday.

Four Western Mass. golfers advanced to Wednesday’s match play. Alia Godek (Agawam Municipal Golf Course) will square off against Molly Smith tomorrow at 9:10 a.m., Longmeadow’s Annie Dai (Northfield Mount Hermon School) will compete against Julia Imai at 9:20, and Deboise will face off against fellow WMass foe and former Mass. Am champion Angela Garvin of Feeding Hills (The Ranch Golf Club) at 9:30.

Smith stays hot

There are a number of elite level golfers still in the mix atop the leaderboard.

Day 1 leader Morgan Smith (Vesper Country Club) stayed at the front of the pack again on the second day, shooting a 3-under 69 on Day 2 to earn stroke play medalist honors. Smith was the only golfer to break 70 on either day.

“I hit the ball better [Tuesday], that was probably the biggest difference [from Monday],” Smith offered. “[I was] not afraid to be aggressive – some of the tee shots you have to be on the right side of the fairway or the right angle or the second shot’s not going to be so easy. So I played pretty aggressive and it worked well.” 

Smith’s younger sisters, Molly and Maddie, also qualified for match play on Wednesday. The Women’s Am was the first high-level tournament that the three of them have competed in, and Morgan said she’s looking forward to playing with her sisters (and maybe against them). 

“I think it’s pretty exciting. It’d be funny if I got [matched up against] one of them. Hopefully not Molly for a bit, but I could take Maddie on,” Morgan said. “I’m going in to win, I imagine they’re doing the same.” 

Defending champ 

Also still in the mix heading into match play is Catie Schernecker (The Country Club), last year’s champion and a rising sophomore on the Harvard women’s golf team. Schernecker has the opportunity to be the first golfer to win back-to-back titles since Isabel Southard in 2014 and 2015. 

While some competitors might be nervous with that kind of added pressure, Schernecker isn’t feeling any of the extra weight.

“I don't feel pressure. It's just exciting. It's fun to be here, it's a historical women's golf course,” Schernecker said. “It's an amazing event. It's my last event of the summer again and it’s a fun field, awesome people to play with.” 

Ace in the hole

Na Liu had a difficult time at the Women’s Am, finishing with a two-day total score of 240 that put her at the bottom of the leaderboard.

But there was a silver lining that she got to take away from the experience – Liu hit a hole-in-one on the 17th hole during Tuesday’s round. She was the only player over the first two days of the tournament to land an ace, doing so on the well-guarded green at 17 that features a trio of bunkers.

“What a surprise, it was pretty lucky,” Liu said. “I should buy some (lottery) tickets today?” 

It was also Liu’s first career hole-in-one; she’s been golfing for 14 years, first learning the game when she was 17 years old in China.

“The caddie, he saw it... I said, ‘No, I don't believe you, maybe it’s over the green,’” Liu said. “And he said ‘No, no, let's go and check.’” 


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