HARTFORD, Conn. – Angela Garvin challenged in each of the first four Hartford Women’s Opens, even losing in a playoff to pro Brooke Baker three years ago.
But Garvin wasn’t denied Sunday at Keney Park Golf Course thanks to her steadiness and help from two up-and-down pros playing in the final group behind her.
Garvin used stellar iron play to set up numerous birdie chances on the way to a 3-under-par 67 for a 36-hole total of 3-under 137 and a one-stroke victory over first-round leader Camden Morrison and former LPGA and Futures Tour player Jordan Lintz.
Garvin, 19, who leaves for her sophomore year at the University of Maryland in early September, carded four birdies, including three in five holes to start the back nine, to rally from a five-stroke deficit to start the day and finally become the tournament’s first amateur champion.
“I feel really good because I’d been so close every year,” said Garvin, who was low amateur for the fourth time. “I was very disappointed losing in the first round of match play in the Massachusetts Amateur as the defending champion, so this helps make up for that.”
Garvin, from Feeding Hills, Mass., said the win was better than her victory in the Providence Open in July because the field was stronger. Plus, it was her last tournament for a while because she and her Maryland teammates can only practice until restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted. She played in three of five tournaments with the Terrapins in the spring, and her best finish was a tie for 35th in the Illinois Invitational at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago that has hosted several major championships. She has also qualified for six consecutive PGA of America Junior Championships, including via four wins, and was Connecticut Section PGA Junior Player of the Year six times.
Garvin will return to College Park, Md., after a steady two rounds that included only three bogeys. She began her comeback with a wedge to 5 feet for birdie at the par-5 second hole and had legitimate birdie opportunities on nearly every hole the rest of the front nine until she hit her approach into a bunker and made bogey at No. 9.
But Garvin got on a roll early on the back nine, starting with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 10th hole. She drove the 290-yard 12th hole and two-putted from 12 feet for another birdie, then hit a wedge to 12 inches and tapped in for birdie at the par-5 14th hole to get to 3 under. She made routine pars on the final four holes, narrowly missing an 18-foot birdie putt at No. 18.
“Saturday, my irons were really bad so I didn’t have many really good birdie chances,” said Garvin, who hit 16 greens in regulation Sunday. “I tried to be more aggressive and hit my irons much better so I had way more birdie chances.”
While Garvin had a rather stress-free round, the same could not be said for Morrison and Lintz.
After shooting a bogey-free, course-record-tying, 5-under 65 on Saturday at Goodwin Park GC, Morrison started with a two-stroke lead over Lintz. But after opening with two pars, Morrison made four bogeys and a double bogey in the next six holes, capped by three-putts at Nos. 7 and 8 that led to an outgoing 6-over 41 and dropped her three strokes behind Lintz.
“I was a little disappointed with how I played on the front nine,” said Morrison, 24, who splits time between Ipswich, Mass., and Ponte Vedra, Fla., where she is on the maintenance crew at TPC Sawgrass, the home of The Players Championship. “I was playing a little scared, but I made a small adjustment on the back nine, stood a little closer to the ball, and started hitting it a lot better.”
Like Garvin, Morrison birdied three of the first five holes on the back nine. She two-putted the par-5 10th hole from 18 feet for birdie and then drove the 12th hole and two-putted for another birdie. Two spectacular shots set up a 4-foot eagle try at No. 14, but she failed to convert, settling for another birdie. She parred in, missing a 12-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole and leaving a 35-footer from the front fringe inches short on No. 18.
“All in all, I’m happy with the results, but it’s something I have to learn from and keep grinding,” said Morrison, who won 14 tournaments at Franklin Pierce University. “I’m going to practice in Ipswich and hope to get an exemption into the Maryland Open before I go back to Ponte Vedra in December.”
Lintz, 42, a teaching pro who has owned Jordan Lintz Golf for five years while playing out of Oronoque CC in Stratford, rightfully said “it’s probably the craziest round that I’ve ever played. It was like a circus.”
It didn’t start that way as Lintz bogeyed the third and fourth holes but hit a wedge to 8 feet for a birdie at the ninth hole to turn in 1-over 36. Then it got plenty “crazy” as Lintz birdied five of the first six holes on the back nine, starting with putts of 18 and 40 feet, the latter causing her to put her hand over her mouth and say, “I finally got it to the hole.”
Lintz chipped to 12 feet and made the putt for birdie at the 12th hole to get to 5 under and three ahead of Garvin and four in front of Morrison. But Lintz hit her tee shot on the par-3 13th into a bunker, blasted short of the green, chipped to 6 feet and missed, settling for a double bogey. But she rebounded with a memorable birdie 4 at the 14th hole, where her drive to the right stopped a yard from out of bounds. She punched her second shot into the fairway but hit her approach 40 feet past the pin. Then in a near replay of the 11th hole, Lintz rolled her putt over a mound and into the cup for an improbable birdie that brought another hand to her face in disbelief.
Lintz capped her birdie binge with an 18-foot putt at the 15th hole to get back to 5 under and two ahead of Garvin and three in front of Morrison. Then the tournament completely changed on the par-4 16th hole. Morrison hooked her drive into a creek, took a drop and then flew her third shot 20 yards over the green into the bushes. She took an unplayable lie, but her ball was still in the edge of the bushes. She made a nice chip to 12 feet but missed the putt, made triple-bogey 7 and lost the lead.
“I lasered my third shot to be 158 yards and checked it to make sure,” Lintz said. “But when the ball flew into the bushes, I lasered it again, and I was completely shocked that it was 141 yards. It cost me the tournament.”
Lintz still had time to pull out a win but missed birdie putts of 10 and 18 feet on the final two holes and divided first- and second-place money of $2,000 and $1,000 with Morrison. Lintz was trying to become the first player to win the Hartford Women’s Open and Connecticut Women’s Open, having captured the latter on the second hole of a playoff with four-time champion Liz Janangelo Caron in 2011.
“I never made so many long putts like that,” Lintz said. “I’ve made some 12-15-footers in a round, but it was just amazing that some of them went in today. I hit a lot of good shots, but I definitely had some trouble with distance control. I wasn’t 100 percent how far I was hitting all my clubs because I haven’t played much this year, so I have to get the distances down, especially on the wedges. But now I know I’m capable but can’t play this erratic. I’ve got to dial in the craziness, but I’m confident for October.”
Lintz referred to the KPGM Women’s PGA Championship that was postponed to Oct. 8-11 at Aronomink CC in Newton Square, Pa., because of the pandemic. Lintz, who played one year on the LPGA Tour and six years on the Futures Tour, plans to take a few days off from work each week to practice for the major championship.
Pam Kuong, a commercial lending officer at Bank of America in Boston who played in the final group, shot 73 to finish fourth at 142. Kuong, 59, of Charles River CC in Newtown, Mass., won the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur in 2008 and 2010 and the Massachusetts Senior Women’s Amateur in 2019 and 2020.
Defending champion Aimee Caligiore of Orlando, Fla., shot 72 to tie for fifth at 143 with Marie Allo of Newington, who closed with 68. They each won $650.