WALLINGFORD – Kelly Whaley's tap-in birdie putt at the par-5 18th hole Wednesday symbolized her dominance at the Connecticut State Women's Amateur Championship.
From her opening tee shot to final putt, Whaley ran away with her third championship. Her 3-over par 75 for a 54-hole score of 218 was 14 shots clear of the field.
"She hits it so long, is so good and doesn't get rattled by anything," said Catherine McEvoy of Greenwich, who finished second (75—232).
She and third-place finisher Danielle Lamy of Weston (77—233), who played with Whaley, knew the likelihood of overtaking her was remote. Whaley, 17, of Farmington, had a 13-shot lead entering the final round after setting the course record for women (70) in the second round.
"My goal was to beat that [Wednesday]" Whaley said.
That didn't happen, but she was undeterred.
"This course can unnerve you with its sloped greens and trouble," said Bill Whaley, who caddied for his daughter. "When she made a mistake, she didn't let it carry over."
Her 14-shot victory didn't match her 16-stroke margin last year. The tournament record is 21 by Liz Janangelo in 2001.
"It's so cool to win this and to represent Connecticut," said Whaley, who also triumphed in 2011. "As a teenager, I don't get the opportunity to play in an event like this with other younger players and women. It's great to interact with them."
Whaley, the The Courant 2012 girls golfer of the year, opened with a front-nine, 1-under par 35. But then she hooked a drive into the trees at the par-4 10th. It took her two shots to get back to the fairway.
"I had a little opening on the first shot in the trees," she said, while holding her hand about 8 inches apart. "It didn't get it through there, though."
She reached the green with her fourth shot. Her first putt from 35 feet stopped 7 feet short. She remained focused and made the putt for a 6.
Whaley wasn't as sharp with her irons and distance control in her final nine holes as she had been in the first two rounds. "I don't know if it was adrenaline or what, but she was a club, club-and-and half long at times," said Bill Whaley, General Manager and PGA Director of Golf at TPC River Highlands.
Kelly said her mother Suzy, the director of golf at Suzy Whaley Golf at TPC River Highlands, was in Las Vegas "doing some PGA of America work."
Kelly said she received a valuable tip from older sister Jenn, a member of the Quinnipiac golf team. "They play here three times a week and she warned me about the greens," Whaley said. "Stay beneath the hole. For the most part I did."
McEvoy, 16, who'll enter her junior year at Greenwich High, matched Whaley's 75 "by making some nice 10-footers to save par" and hitting some crisp irons. They were far from enough to catch Whaley, though.
Whaley leaves Friday to start her senior year at the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, S.C.
"My immediate golf goal is to be the best NCAA player; from there hopefully the LPGA," said Whaley, who has orally committed to North Carolina.
As for the Connecticut State Women's Amateur, Whaley said: "I love the event. I plan to play in it as much as I can."
Foster Wins Amateur
Kevin Foster used some home course knowledge and plenty of fine shots to win the Connecticut Mid-Amateur at Hop Meadow CC in Simsbury.
He carded a 74 and a 70 in the last two rounds to finish with a 54-hole score of 2-under 214. He was the only player in the 27th edition of the Connecticut Mid-Amateur to finish under par.
Phil Perry of Black Hall Club-Old Lyme was second (71-74—216). Chet Hrostek of The Golf Club at Oxford Greens was third (71-70—218.
Foster, the 1998 champion, started the day two shots behind first round-leader David Olender, who finished in a tie for 18th place (80-76—226).
Foster took over the lead and held a three-shot lead after his first nine of his final round. Perry, who also was the runner-up last year, got to within one stroke of Foster with a birdie 4 at the 17th. Foster responded with a birdie at 17.
Around The Greens
Evan Grenus of TPC River Highlands, The Courant boys golfer of the year, finished second in the New England Junior Amateur Invitational at Ledgemont CC-Seekonk, Mass. with a 72—215. Steven Dilisio of Massachusetts won with a 74—214. Massachusetts won the team title (362—1,081). Connecticut was second (367—1098). ... Adam Rainaud, who had earlier clinched being the Connecticut PGA Section Player of the Year, won the Assistant Connecticut PGA Championship with a record 11-under 66-65—131. He qualified for the National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship, Oct. 30 – Nov. 2, at PGA Golf Club (Wanamaker Course) in Port St. Lucie, Fla. ... Jim Becker of Bloomfield won the Rhode Island Senior Open with a 2-under 140 (69-71). Mike Bedus of Indian Hill CC-Newington (153) and Steve Ayers (154) of Goodwin GC-Hartford were the top amateurs. ... Several celebrities are scheduled to participate in the 12th Harry Nowobilski Memorial Celebrity Amateur Golf Tournament, including UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie, assistant coach Ricky Moore and Wolfpack coach Ken Gernander The tournament takes place at Tallwood CC-Hebron on August 28th. Proceeds benefit the Connecticut PGA Foundation. For information call John Nowobilski at 860-646-3437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. ... Brothers Mel and Bill Durante each recorded a hole-in-one in the member-member tournament at Fairview Farm GC-Harwinton. Mel of Torrington aced the seventh on August 16; Bill of Harwinton aced the fourth the following day of competition.