Kelly Sim of Alpine assessed what she needed to do to improve upon the tournament-leading score of one-under-par 71 she shot on Tuesday.
“I wanted to get the ball more in the middle of the fairway and get my approach shots closer to the pin, to give myself more chances at birdie,” said Sim, 17, a resident of Edgewater who shot three-under-par 69 to give her a 140-total for medalist honors after the 36-hole stroke-play portion of the 92ndNew Jersey State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Championship on Wednesday at par-72, 5,802-yard Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville.
Sim gains the No. 1 seed in the match-play portion of the Women’s Amateur that begins Thursday with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals, and continues Friday with the semifinals and final. The top 16 from the 36 holes of stroke-play advanced to match play.
Runner-up honors went to Allison Herring of TPC Jasna Polana, a rising junior on the University of Tennessee golf team, who shot 76-149. Tied for third at 151 were defending champion Alice Chen of Neshanic Valley (76-151), a rising senior at Furman University and current U.S. Four-Ball champion with Taylor Totland of Hollywood, and Haley Buckholdt of Old York, a resident of Columbus and incoming freshman at Elon University.
In the concurrent Fourth NJSGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, 2015 champion Tara Fleming of New Jersey National fired a two-over-74 for a 158 total to win by two shots over Adrienne MacLean of Somerset Hills (77-160). Susan Sardi of Cherry Valley (79-165) was third and Amy Loughney of Galloping Hill (85-166) was fourth in the field of 30.
Fleming is a former LPGA Tour player who lives in Jersey City and was part of the New Jersey team that won the U.S. Women’s National Team championship in 2014 with Alice Chen and Cindy Ha of Valley Brook.
On Tuesday, she shot 12-over-par 84, but rallied Wednesday with a two-over 74.
“I’ve played here many times and was certainly disappointed with the 84,” said Fleming, 50, a resident of Jersey City. “But I was really nervous and was rushing my shots. I had more putts than shots. I guess I was nervous because I haven’ played a lot this year, and because this tournament means so much to me.”
Fleming, the first two-time champion in the Mid-Amateur, punctuated the 74 with a 60-foot chip from off the green on Hole No. 18.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur qualifier at Forest Hill Field Club in a couple of weeks (August 15). It will be nice for me. I’ll be the baby in the bunch.”
Fleming will also be playing in the match-play portion of the NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championship beginning Wednesday morning.
“I like playing against younger players. It makes you dig down,” she said.
Sim won medalist honors for the third time in her young career, also doing it at U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifiers in 2015 and 2017. At this year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Chsmpionship last week, she reached match play, unfortunately meeting eventual champion Erica Sheppard in the Round of 64.
“On Tuesday, I got off to a bogey-bogey start , so my shots were not as sharp as I wanted them to be.,” said Sim, a rising senior at Holy Angels Academy in Westwood who made All-State this spring.
“Yesterday afternoon, I went out to the practice green because I wanted to reinforce that good feeling. I’ve been comfortable with my putter out here.”
Her round Wednesday included four birdies. One came on the par-5 No. 6 hole, when she blasted out of a bunker to three feet. Another came on the par-4 No. 18 when she drained a 12-foot putt.
“I like match play,” Sim said. “I see similarities to stroke play. You still have to shoot well and play your own game. A lot of time, even par wins at match play. And you can throw out a triple bogey. It’s only one hole. But you have to stay away from mistakes.”