HARTFORD, Conn. – Jen Holland continues to dominate the Southern New England Women’s Golf Association.
The 57-year-old Holland made a 50-foot birdie putt on the penultimate hole and shot 6-over-par 154 for 36 holes to win the SNEWGA Individual Championship at Silo Point Country Club in Southbury. It was a record ninth SNEWGA title for the standout from Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield.
After an opening 6-over 80 that included two double bogeys on the back nine, Holland had one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars in the final round to edge Nicole Elliott of Pequabuck GC in Bristol by a stroke. Holland’s lone birdie on the par-5 17th hole proved to be the difference.
“I would love to turn the second round into (this) week,” said Holland, referring to the Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at Race Brook Country Club in Orange on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Before the round, I told someone that I thought I had lost my golf game but knew it was in my bag somewhere. Afterwards, she said, ‘Well, I guess you found it.’
“The funny thing is Nicole and I didn’t know where we stood (on the 17th hole). I thought I had a one-stroke lead but we were actually tied and the bomb that I made gave me the lead.”
Holland, an elementary school teacher, had an unusual path to the presentation ceremony. She was the defending champion but had left the winner’s trophy in the trunk of her car, so she had to make a quick dash to be able to have the trophy presented to her again.
“It was pretty funny, but fortunately I got it to the ceremony in time,” Holland said.
Elliott, who won several local and state titles under her maiden name Coffey, thought it was “interesting” how things ended.
“I didn’t know how Jen and I stood,” Elliott said, “but when she made that long putt, I said that’s the kind of stuff that wins it for you. She’s a great player.”
It was the best finish in the championship for Elliott, 46, a real estate agent who won the Connecticut High School Championship, New England Junior Championship, 2003 Connecticut Women’s Golf Association Championship and the Greater Bristol City Championship seven times. She was an All-Big South selection in her senior year at Winthrop College and worked on the news/assignment desk at ESPN for 14 years but hasn’t played as much recently because she has a 4-year-old son, Ryan.
Mercedes Large (Rockledge CC-West Hartford), the 2019 champion, and Debbie Johnson (Oronoque CC-Stratford) tied for third at 163, one ahead of Maddie Hong (Blackledge CC-Hebron).
Holland, Elliott, Large, Johnson, Hong, Mia Grzywinski (CC of Farmington), who captured the Hartford Women’s Open in June and finished second in the New England Women’s Amateur last month, 2020 winner Sophia Sarrazin (The Patterson Club-Fairfield), 2018 titlist Kyra Cox (EClub of Connecticut) and 2020 CWGA Championship winner Leslie Li (Tumble Brook CC-Bloomfield) are among the favorites to snare the state’s major stroke-play event.
Holland, the 2008 champion, is trying to go 5-for-5 in earning the Connecticut State Golf Association’s Liz Jananegelo Caron Women’s Player of the Year Award.
A year ago, she finished four strokes behind 15-year-old Sarrazin, who will attempt to become the first repeat winner since Kelly Whaley in 2013 and 2014. Whaley is the younger daughter of the first PGA of America president Suzy Whaley, who will be inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame at The Patterson Club on July 29 after the first round of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn CC in Fairfield.
While the women play in Orange, the 92nd New England Amateur will be at Great River GC in Milford on Tuesday through Thursday. There will be 34 players from Connecticut in the 144-man field, which will be cut to the low 60 and ties after two rounds. Until last year, the tournament was four rounds with 36 holes being played the final day. A consensus was needed among the New England states to shorten the event to 54 holes. The change was made in part because it helps complete the championship as scheduled in the event of inclement weather.
Among those trying to become the first champion from Connecticut since John VanDerLaan in 2014 are reigning two-time CSGA Amateur winner Chris Fosdick, past two-time Amateur titlist Rich Dowling and former Amateur and Connecticut Open champion Cody Paladino, the 2020 CSGA Player of the Year.