Those who witnessed Kelly Sim of Alpine Country Club win the second of her back-to-back NJSGA Women’s Amateur titles last year at Essex County would agree that she was at the top of her game, en route to the pinnacle of women’s championship golf in New Jersey for a second time. However, Sim contends that this year’s version of herself is even better – and when she arrives at Navesink Country Club for the 94th New Jersey State Golf Association Women’s Amateur Championship tomorrow (July 30) through Friday (August 2), she will be the player to beat.

Sim and the other contestants in the 94th Women’s Amateur, as well as those playing in the concurrent the 6th Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, will gather at one of the most picturesque, yet challenging, courses in the state. Samantha Perrotta of Old York at Chesterfield defends her Mid-Amateur crown, an event she won in 2018 by eight strokes.

Groupings & Starting Times

Sim, a resident of Edgewater, will look to become only the second player to win three consecutive Women’s Amateur Championships; Sherry Herman won four consecutive titles from 1995 to 1998 – including her 1997 victory at Navesink.

Sim, 19, comes off her freshman campaign at Northwestern University where she was named to the first team, All-Big Ten Conference. Sim’s performance in her first collegiate season carried the momentum gained through her stellar high school career; the graduate of Holy Angels Academy in Bergen County won the New Jersey High School state championship her final three seasons. Her constant focus on improvement was a driving force in her transition to the college game.

“My short game was not the best part of my game before I got here, but that’s what I have improved on the most, my short game and my putting,” said Sim. “I’ve definitely grown so much over the past year. When I was younger, I thought I might not even want to go to college - but I learned that when you are on your own, you grow so much. Now, I have coaches, trainers, and my own apartment. It’s an experience you can’t get without going to college.”

Among the coaches she credits for her improvement are Northwestern head coach Emily Fletcher and Jason Carbone of Baltusrol.

“The two times I won, I felt more pressure – but now that’s in the past, there won’t be as much pressure. I have that experience of winning and it should be more enjoyable.”

Sim was third at Northwestern with a 73.52 scoring average. She was one of just three players on the team to post 10-plus rounds of par or better and carded a season-low 68 in the second round of the Silverado Showdown on her way to a fourth-place finish. Sim shot a 2-under-par 70 in the final round of the Big Ten Championships to finish tied for 18th.

She attributes her successes of 2019 not only to an improved short game and better putting – but also to an improved strength and fitness routine. “I’ve gained muscle and worked on my core. I’m more fit. The fitness aspect has really helped me. “

When Sim won the 2018 NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championships. In 2018, she sank a dramatic 70-foot uphill putt in the final match on the 15th hole to give her a 2-up lead with three holes to play. She won by that margin in a hard-fought match over Georgetown University golfer Christina Parsells of Baltusrol after a birdie on the 18th hole to cement the victory.

Navesink has hosted numerous NJSGA championships, including the Open in 1977 and 1992, the Amateur in 1974, the W.Y. Dear Junior Championship in 1998 and 2003, the Senior Amateur in 1975, and the Senior Open Championship in 2013 and 2017.

The course features holes with sidehill and downhill lies, treacherous greens and a cadre of bunkers. Within the past five years, Navesink took on an enormous project to restore existing bunkers and add another 22 under the direction of architect Ron Forse. Holes 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16 all feature new fairway bunkers.

Course knowledge is paramount at Navesink, where its nuances demand precise shot making and great care on and around putting greens. With firm and fast conditions expected, players will have to manage all aspects of their game.

“We are very excited to have these events at one of the premier courses in the state,” said Lisa Lifer, a member of the NJSGA Board of Trustees. “Navesink is an important partner with the NJSGA. The golfers will be challenged by the course and the championship will bring out the best female golfers in the state."

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