Westford’s Morgan Smith wins 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on last hole at Orchards Golf Club

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  • Morgan Smith chips to the green during the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. Smith won the title on the last hole. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Morgan Smith putts during the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Morgan Smith delivers a short speech after winning the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. She thanked her family for helping her through a difficult summer. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Alan Macdonald, the President of Mass Golf, left and Jesse Menachem, Executive Director/CEO of Mass Golf, right, present Morgan Smith with the champions trophy after her victory in the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Morgan Smith watches a drive during the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Maddy Smith, right, pats her sister Morgan Smith on the shoulder after Rebecca Skoler’s put missed to deliver Morgan the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Morgan Smith, left, putts while Rebecca Skoler watches during the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. Smith won the title on the last hole. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Rebecca Skoler putts during the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. She was the runner up. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Rebecca Skoler watches a drive during the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Morgan Smith, left, takes a moment with her caddie and sister Maddie Smith after winning the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship on Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Sisters Morgan Smith, center, Molly Smith, right, and Maddie Smith take a selfie with the 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship trophy Friday at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. Morgan won it against Rebecca Skoler with Maddie on her bag. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 8/19/2022 2:48:29 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Whoa, indeed.

Morgan Smith knew she landed a good tee shot on the Par 3 17th hole during Friday’s 119th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. Her father Phil Smith told her how great it really was.

He watched it from just off the green drop out of the sky nearly on line with the pin. 

“Whoa!” Phil exclaimed, thinking the ball was destined for the cup.

“He doesn’t scream unless it’s a kick in,” Morgan Smith said.

It stopped about 18 inches away, but the effect was the same as an ace in a tight final matchup with Rebecca Skoler. Skoler was one up after Morgan Smith cut her two-up advantage with a par on No. 16. Skoler’s tee shot landed long and left, nearly out of bounds. She chipped back to the rough and conceded the hole, tying the match as it headed to its final hole.

Smith pulled her driver out on the tee box, an aggressive play that paid off when she landed in the middle of the fairway. Skoler, who led all day, hit off right into the rough. After Skoler missed the green on her second shot, Smith dropped a ball onto the green and waited for the Virginia junior to join her.

That set up Smith with a chance at a walk off putt to win the title from 15 paces. She curved it left to the lip of the cup, opening the door for Skoler to force extra holes of an already dramatic match. Skoler putted just left, and she knew almost immediately, hanging her putter on her left shoulder as it rolled by.

“It was such a great match. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Took it to 18, which is always great,” Skoler said, wiping away tears. “It was definitely a battle. I felt good out there, just wasn’t my day.”

Maddie Smith, Morgan’s caddie, put her hand on her sister’s shoulder as they shook hands. The win represented more than five days of golf. Morgan Smith thanked her family for their support through a difficult summer after accepting the championship trophy. Many college coaches recruited Morgan Smith hard earlier in her high school career at Westford Academy but dropped interest one by one.

“They picked apart my golf game. I had to dig deep into what I want to my future,” said Morgan Smith, who will take a postgraduate year at Phillips Exeter. “I want to be a great golfer. I ignored the recruiting process and focused on the love of the game. To come out here and prove myself right, prove the coaches who didn’t believe in me wrong, my parents pushed me to continue to believe in myself. To be able to close it out is awesome.”

Skoler grabbed the lead on No. 2, but Smith tied it on No. 3. Skoler gained the advantage again on No. 3 and pushed it to two up on No. 6. Her tee shot landed in a hazard and she needed a drop, but she put the ball within six feet and drained the birdie putt.

“Off the tee, I thought I had lost the hole. I had a lot of errant shots,” Skoler said. “The way I scrambled, I’m proud of.”

Smith clawed back to one up with a birdie on No. 10, then they traded evenly over the next four holes. Skoler opened the door for Smith on No. 14 with a tee shot into dry rough grass on the right, while Smith lived in the fairway, like she did all day. Smith’s second shot landed in comfortable putting range. Skoler barely got to the green.

They still split the hole after a marvelous 30-foot birdie putt from Skoler.

“I can’t say so much for off the tee or my irons, but my putting and short game was probably the best of the week,” Skoler said. 

She pushed to two up again with three holes to go after a par on No. 15, but Smith owned the rest of the match. The result reversed their previous meeting at the same event when Skoler prevailed three and two.

“That’s my game. I’ve always been pretty straight, and that’s how I’ve counteracted the lack of distance in the past,” Smith said. “Even though I hit it further now, that hasn’t really changed.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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