A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Around the links in Northern Kentucky: Cooper grad Smith qualifies for Girls Junior PGA Championship

By Marc Hardin
NKyTribune contributor

Madison Smith, hardwired to win at Cooper High School, had rarely felt so good about finishing out of the top spot. But the Union golfer was all smiles after tying for second at last week’s Girls Junior PGA Championship qualifier at Kearney Hill Golf Links.

“I’m super excited,” said Smith, who qualified for next month’s 43rd Girls Junior PGA Championship by virtue of finishing in the top three at the June 6-7 Kearney Hill event. “I feel like I’m playing to the best of my abilities right now.”

Madison Smith has qualified for next month’s Girls Junior PGA Championship. (Photo by Becky Smith)

Smith, heading to Middle Tennessee State University, shot a two-day score of even-par 144 at the challenging course in Lexington. That tied Prospect’s Taylor Edlin for the runner-up spot, three strokes behind winner Laney Frye from Nicholasville. Frye earned the first qualifier. Edlin, a future teammate of Smith’s at Middle Tennessee, was awarded the second qualifier as the lowest finisher among players that have earned a Golden Ticket (given to winners of a Junior Tour event).

The third qualifier goes to the lowest remaining score among tour members. That was awarded to Smith, the only conference champion, regional champion and three-time state qualifier in Cooper history. She also has a victory on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour along with four wins on the Mussleman-Dunne Tour, where she bagged player of the year honors.

“It’s my first time for this,” Smith said. “I was a couple shots away from qualifying last year. The tournament director said not to worry and keep it up because the national tournament is in Kentucky this year.”

In fact, the July 9-12 Girls Junior PGA Championship is at Kearney Hill, a little more than an hour’s drive from Smith’s home. She is delighted to be making a return engagement after two days of qualifying success at the par-72 course.

“That’s the best part, it’s so close to home. I don’t even have to stay in a hotel,” said Smith, recently awarded a $1,500 scholarship by the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association. “Plus, I know the course. It’s so close I hope to play a practice round down there before the tournament.”

Around the links in Northern Kentucky:

GCGA 1905 JUNIOR TOUR: Three golfers representing Boone Links/Lassing Pointe won division crowns at the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association’s Eagle Junior Open at Eagle Creek and Twin Reeves Classic at Twin Oaks/Reeves. Hannah Hall won the 18-hole Eagle Junior Open girls’ ages 13-18 event on June 6 with a score of 85. Eva Maley won the nine-hole event for girls’ 10-under with 49. Two days earlier, Jenna Doumont won the 36-hole Twin Reeves girls’ 13-18 crown with a two-day score of 165.

KENTUCKY PGA JUNIOR TOUR: The area produced multiple division winners and high placers at last week’s Kentucky PGA Junior Tour Summer Series Event 8 at Lassing Pointe. Union’s Sam Connett won the boys’ 17-18 event with 1-over-par 72. Burlington’s Spencer Chaney and Hebron’s Evan Schwarz tied for second with 75. Kyle Lewis from Dry Ridge won the 14-under competition, carding 79. Union’s Christopher Harpum was runner-up. Also victorious were Union’s Palmer McKelvey in boys’ 11-12 and Paxton McKelvey in boys’ 10-under.

Sister power prevailed at the girls’ events at Lassing Pointe. Olivia DiPaolo captured the 16-18 crown by five strokes with a score of 5-over 77. Brooklynn DiPaolo placed third at 87. Sophia DiPaolo, won the girls’ 13-15 event with a score of 77, good for a 19-stroke margin over runner-up Madison Hudson from Dry Ridge. The sisters hail from Union with Ryle High School accolades galore.

Benjamin Elstun from Florence placed sixth in boys’ 15-16 at Monday’s Summer Series Event 12 at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville. Elstun placed second in the division at Event 8 at Lassing Pointe.

METROPOLITAN: Amy Pugliano, Northern Kentucky’s lone championship flight qualifier at the 103rd Women’s Metropolitan Amateur Championship, lost her first-round match to Janisa Bondoc, 5 and 4, at Summit Hills. Pugliano, a Northern Kentucky University golfer who starred at Notre Dame Academy, was trying to capitalize on home-course knowledge in pursuit of Greater Cincinnati’s top amateur prize. Representing Summit Hills, she earned the tournament’s 10th seed. Bondoc, seeded seventh, lost in the next round in 19 holes to eventual champion Julanna Zhang.

NKWGA: The top four teams play for first-place bragging rights Friday in Week 4 of the Northern Kentucky Women’s Golf Association Team Play schedule at Summit Hills. First-place Kenton County plays third-place Northern Kentucky Golf Club. Second-place Twin Bridges takes on fourth-place Twin Oaks. Just 6.5 points separate first and third place. Standings through Week 3: 1. Kenton County 188.5, 2. Twin Bridges 183, 3. Northern Kentucky Golf Club 182, 4. Twin Oaks 171.5, 5. Ft. Mitchell 161, 6. Boone Links 157.5, 7. Summit Hills 145.5, 8. A. J. Jolly 140, 9. Devou 138.5, 10. Eagle Creek 135.

A.J. JOLLY: The team of Ed Ginter and Steve Weber lead the Variables League Division I standings with 15 points. Nick Haas and Joe Konen lead Division II with 12 points. Tim Schneider recently had a hole-in-one on A.J. Jolly No. 6 with a 185-yard tee shot from the white tees. Saturday’s Adam Collinsworth Golf Outing is a fundraiser benefiting the former Thomas More football player who was left paralyzed from the neck down following a 1998 diving accident in which he broke two vertebrae.

BOONE LINKS: JoAnn Stewart had a hole-in-one on June 6. She aced No. 3 Ridgeview with a 105-yard tee shot.

FORT MITCHELL: Leslie Moreton won the Judy Diem Hayes Flight at last week’s Women’s Metropolitan with a 2 and 1 match-play win over Young Romero at Summit Hills. Representing Fort Mitchell as the flight’s fifth seed, Moreton upset her way to victory, beating fourth seed Tracey Capuano in the first round and top-seeded Tereza Riccella in the semifinals before putting way third-seeded Romero in the final.

Marc Hardin’s summer golf column has been featured in The Kentucky Post and Kentucky Enquirer for 15 years. He’s covered all the local amateur tournaments and several PGA and LPGA events since 2003. His feature for The Cincinnati Post about how Chi Chi Rodriguez got on the album cover of a Devo record was PGA Story Of The Day from the 2004 Kroger Classic at The Golf Center at Kings Island. Marc has written for the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association and Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association. He welcomes comments, story tips, feature ideas and your league’s standings. You can contact him at marcwriterdude@yahoo.com.

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