Kelly Sim of Alpine, who is looking to win her third consecutive NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championship, shot two-under-par-70 to share the first-round lead with Allison Herring of TPC Jasna Polana on Tuesday at the par-71, 5,842-yard Navesink Country Club in Middletown.

One shot behind Sim and Herring in the 94th Women's Amateur are Haley Bookholdt of Old York at Chesterfield, Anina Ku of Neshanic Valley and 14-year-old Katie Li of Fiddler’s Elbow who all shot one-under-par 71. Tied for sixth place at 73 are Christina Parsells of Baltusrol and Emma Shen of Edgewater.

In the concurrent Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, which concludes after the second round of stroke play on Wednesday, Noelle Maertz of Ridgewood leads with a 75, followed by Donna McHugh of Upper Montclair at 76, defending champion Samantha Perrotta of Old York at Chesterfield at 78, and former champion Tara Fleming of N.J. National at 79. 




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Following Wednesday’s second round of stroke play, the low 16 scorers will advance to two rounds of match-play on Thursday and Friday. Mid-Amateur players, ages 25 and above, are eligible to compete in both championships.


Sim, 19, recently completed an outstanding freshman season at Northwestern University where she was named first team, All-Big Ten Conference.


During her high school career at Holy Angels Academy in Bergen County, she won NJSIAA Tournament of Champions titles in her final three seasons.


“I hadn’t seen the course before today, so I treated it like a practice round. I tried to learn the golf course and make observations while I was waiting on the tee. It’s really a beautiful place. I played less aggressive than I normally do. I had a lot of birdie chances. My driver and iron were good and I was always on the green,” Sim noted. 


“I’ll be more confident tomorrow. Subconsciously, I’ll be able to trust my targets and know where to place the ball,” said Sim, who recorded three birdies against one bogey. She drained a 27-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th hole.


Herring, 22, a resident of Skillman, is a May graduate of the University of Tennessee where she played four years of varsity golf. She teamed with former high school teammate Alice Chen to win the NJSGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship in 2015. The pair attended Montgomery High School.


Herring recorded a birdie on the par-4 18th hole after finding herself in a fairway bunker, 75 yards from the hole. She hit the sand shot to eight feet and made the putt.


“I had some solid birdies and made some nice wedge shots. I learned a lot for tomorrow,” said Herring , whose round included five birdies and three bogeys. She needed only 29 putts on the day.


“This will be my last New Jersey Women’s Amateur, so it’s good seeing old friends. I’m having fun and enjoying New Jersey people.”


On August 22, Herring will attend the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School in Palm Springs, Calif. 


“I have a lot of belief in myself and a great support team including my family and my coaches. I started playing late, in high school at Montgomery. I feel like I keep improving. I’ve seen the biggest jump in my game the last year. I’m practicing better and more dedicated to what I’m doing,” Herring said.


Bookholdt, 20, is a rising junior at Elon University in North Carolina, She won the NJSGA Mixed Pinehurst with her father, Dewey, in 2018. She has played in the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior championships. 


Ku, 18, is a rising sophomore on the Harvard University golf team who has played in three USGA championships. She has won three American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) championships in her career and captured the NJSGA Women’s Public Links title in 2018.


Li, 14, won her first AJGA championship earlier this month, at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa., near Pittsburgh. The event was for players 18 and younger. This summer, she also qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Raritan Valley Golf Course in an event conducted by the NJSGA.


“I could have shot a lot better. I had seven birdies, two doubles and two bogeys. I just made too many mistakes,” said Li, an incoming freshman at Ridge High School in her hometown of Basking Ridge.

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