An eagle chip-in from 60 feet helped propel 17-year-old Kelly Sim of Alpine, the medalist in the event, to the championship of the 92nd New Jersey State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Chamionship on Friday at 5,802-yard Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville.
Sim, a rising senior at Holy Angels Academy in Demarest, defeated 20-year-old Yej Shin of Valley Brook, 3 and 1, in the final match.
In the morning semifinals, Sim defeated Noelle Maertz of Hyatt Hills, 5 and 3, and Shin bested 20-year-old Allison Herring of TPC Jasna Polana, 4 and 3.
Sim, a resident of Edgewater, had lost a 2-up lead after the first two holes when Shin came back to win three of the next five holes to go 1-up. It was the only time in the four match-play rounds that Sim trailed. But Sim won the par-3 No. 8 with a par to get the match to all square.
Sim, who shot 69 in the second day of stroke-play, drained a 27-foot putt on the par-5 No. 9 to win the hole and go 1-up. Then came the dramatic eagle chip-in on the par-5, 478-yard No. 10. Shin was already in position for a birdie, facing a three-foot putt, when Sim addressed the ball about 20 yards from the hole.
“She put the pressure on me by putting it close. I made a putt on that hole by picking a target and I did the same thing there. Fortunately, it went in,” said Sim, who has committed to Northwestern University. She has already won four AJGA Tournaments.
On the par No. 11, she made a nice par save to keep the match, 2-up in her favor. She won another hole on the par-3 No. 12 when she sank a 15-foot downhill putt.
Sim was never challenged after that, closing out the math with a par on the par-4 No. 17. On Thursday, Sim needed only 24 holes to defeat two opponents.
“I’m really proud of myself. I lost last week at the U.S. Girls’ Junior in the Round of 64 and going a lot farther was one of my goals” said Sim, who lost to eventual champion Erica Sheppard.
“The Women’s Amateur gave me a chance to redeem myself. I’m glad I’ve been able to pull this off, especially against the great players that were here.”
Shin, a rising junior at Texas Christian University who transferred there after two years at Georgia Southern, She attended Old Tappan High School and lives in Norwood.
“Kelly is a really intense player. I haven’t seen her in a number of years and she has really grown as a player,” Shin noted. “Once I took the lead against, I think I got too greedy and started missing putts The only thing I can do now is work harder for next year’s Amateur.”
Sim and Chin are long-time friends. Five years ago, they both worked with golf teacher Kenny Jung at Riverdale.
Chin advanced to the final against Sim by playing well against Herring in the morning.
“I’ll definitely have to make birdie putts to beat Kelly,” said Chin after beating Herring. Shin last year won the NJSGA Women’s Public Links championship at The Knoll in Parsippany.
“Coming into today, I knew I had to concentrate on my putting. I got out here early and worked on that and m wedge gam and it paid off against Allison.”
Sim was not overly impressed with her 5 and 3 victory over Maertz in the semifinal.
“I played just good enough to beat her. I pout myself in good position many times. Since I never played her before Tuesday, I’m not familiar with the greens. If you don’t put the shots close enough to the pins, the greens can be tricky.”
“I couldn’t get into a putting rhythm today,” said Maertz, who this year won the NJSGA Mixed Pinehurst with Dan Joseph and also won the 2012 NJSGA Women’s Public Links.
“I drove the ball probably the best I did all week. Somerset Hills is a great test for your short game, so I know I need to work on that aspect of my game,” said Maertz, a four-time semifinalist in the Women’s Amateur who was Northeast Conference Player of the Year out of Wagner College in 2015.
Herring had never won in match-play until scoring two victories in the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Overall it was a great week for me,” said Herring, a rising junior on the University of Tennessee golf team. “I just never got my game together against Yeji. This was my best showing in the state amateur ever. I’ve just got to tighten up a few things nad get ready for the college golf season in the fall.”
Herring won the NJSGA Four-Ball Championship two years ago with Alice Chen of Neshanic Valley, a two-time Women’s Amateur champion who lost Thursday in the Round of 16.