The last two U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur victors both won the championship in their maiden voyage. This year’s rookies want to keep that streak going, and Courtney Dow, 25, of Frisco, Texas, made a statement on Saturday at Stonewall.
Playing in her first year of eligibility, the Texas A&M women’s golf alum bested the rest of the field by 5 shots. Carding a 7-under 64 on the tricky Pennsylvania layout known for its undulating greens, Dow shot the competitive course record on Stonewall’s North Course. The 64 was also the 18-hole stroke play record at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, besting a 66 by Jennifer Peng in 2021.
“I knew I had some good par 5’s at the end because I was starting on [hole] 10 today,” said Dow. “So if I could get through the first nine, I would have some scoring chances toward the end. I missed the fairway on both par 5s and ended up having to birdie them differently than I thought I might. I laid up to a good wedge number and was able to recover with good wedges in.”
With a 3-under on her first nine (Stonewall’s back), Dow really picked up the pace for her final eight holes. After a par on the par-4 first hole, she carded five birdies, and no bogeys, over her final eight holes. Dow, who got married in July, currently works in sports partnerships for Endeavor, with a focus on college football and Formula 1. Right after the Women’s Mid-Am, she will head to Gainesville, Fla., beginning a stretch of almost two straight months on the road for work.
“I love the mid-am attitude towards golf,” said Dow. “Everybody has jobs now, and nobody’s doing this every day, so it’s fun to play more relaxed with people that are just here for a good time, but still competitive and still have those same commonalities and same spirit. But we are all just in a different phase of life now.”
Taylor Ledwein, 25, of New Prague, Minn., also made the most of her debut in the championship. Jumping out to the early lead at Stonewall on Saturday with the low round of the morning wave, the 2022 Minnesota Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and 2023 runner-up fired a 2-under-par 69 early in Round 1 to set the pace at the 36th edition of the championship. Ledwein got off to a hot start, playing her first 11 holes in 4-under par.
“My putter saved me quite a bit,” said Ledwein. “I made some decent-length putts for par and then snuck a few birdie putts in there. On 17, I hit a very poor tee shot but ended up making a 12-footer to save par. Stuff like that saved me all day.”
Ledwein sits in a tie for second after the first 18, alongside Jessica Spicer, 25, of Bahama, N.C., who had the highlight of the day with an eagle 2 on the par-4 371-yard tenth hole, holing an approach shot with a gap wedge from 94 yards.
Judith Kyrinis, the seventh oldest player in the field at 59 years old, comes in fresh off low amateur honors at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Waverley Country Club and continued her hot play.
“It was a pretty scary course in the practice rounds,” said Kyrinis, who shot a 1-under par 70 and is tied for third. “The greens are very challenging. Sometimes when you come in with a little different expectation, you surprise yourself, but this course will come up and bite you in a hurry.”
Round 2 of stroke play will begin at 7:30 a.m. ET. The low 64 players will qualify for match play, which will begin on Monday. If necessary, a playoff to determine the final match-play spots will take place on Monday morning.
“My birthday is the 23rd of September, so last year, obviously I was too young, but it was close. I just missed it, so I’m excited to be here this year. Any USGA event that we get to be in and travel to is always a good time.” - Taylor Ledwein on playing in her first Mid-Am
“With the greens, they’re crazy, but if you can get your approach shot in the right quadrant of the green, instead of having to navigate all the undulations, you’ll have some good looks. And I actually had a ton of good looks, and then was finally able to capitalize on two of them there coming down the stretch. I was just glad to stay patient with that too because it was a smidge frustrating when I was hitting good shots.” - Katie Miller on the greens at Stonewall
"My biggest focus was just to try to stay out of trouble, and that meant making sure I was putting it on the proper side of the green. For the most part today I was able to do that, so I feel very content and lucky to be able to walk out of here 1-under today." - Two-time champion Julia Potter-Bobb on her opening-round 70.
“If you get yourself on the wrong side of the hole, it’s really tough putting. I just managed my game well enough to try and get it in the right positions. I think I did well on that.” - Judith Kyrinis on how the course played
“I got married this summer, so I took a good while off and then about a month ago started getting ready for my qualifier for this.” - Courtney Dow on her preparation heading into the championship
“I knew I hit it well. We kind of saw the ball disappear but my sister and I thought it must have just caught the slope. I was thinking I was going to have this 20-footer. We got up there and sure enough it was in the hole.” - Jessica Spicer on her eagle hole-out on the par-4 10th