FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Loretta Giovannettone tried to employ a simple game plan in the Connecticut Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club.
“I tried to keep any swing thoughts out of my mind,” Giovannettone said. “As a teaching pro, it’s easy to think about tinkering with your swing while you are out there. I tried to stick with the same exact routine every time.”
That successful strategy enabled Giovannettone to shoot a pair of 2-under-par 70s to finish one ahead of Brooke Baker and three better than 2011 winner Jordan Lintz, Kellie Edelbut and amateur Jennifer Keim.
“I’m a little bit on Cloud Nine right now,” Giovannettone, 27, a teaching pro at Woodway CC in Darien, said after competing in her third Connecticut Open. “I was not expecting to win this event. It’s a really good feeling.”
This win came a month after Giovannettone won the Metropolitan (N.Y.) PGA Women’s Championship at Burning Tree CC in Greenwich.
“The members were pumped up a couple weeks ago when I won the Women’s Met PGA Championship, which was a shocker,” Giovannettone said. “To see me go back-to-back, the members will be really thrilled.”
Giovannettone trailed Baker by two strokes through 13 holes, but back-to-back birdies gave her the lead for good. She nearly holed out her second shot on the par-4 14th hole, then birdied the par-3 15th. On the 315-yard, uphill 16th with a severely slanted green, Giovannettone, Baker and Lintz each made bogey, leaving Giovannettone with a two-shot lead with two holes to go.
Baker, the 2017 Hartford Women’s Open champion who plays on the Symmetra Tour and the Ladies Australian Tour, also bogeyed No. 15 and three-putted the 16th hole, as did Lintz.
“When you have an 18-footer downhill that breaks 20 feet, it’s kind of hard to match the speed up,” Baker said. “I could have taken five minutes to read that putt. It was an extremely difficult putt as far as the amount of break. It would take only a tap to get it there, but to have a chance to make it, you needed to stroke it like a 2-footer. I did, knowing that I would have a long comeback putt. In hindsight, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”
At No. 17, Giovannettone made another bogey but retained her two-stroke lead when Baker three-putted again. Then on the 18th, Giovannettone made solid par 4 that she ended up needing to clinch the win.
“I stood up on 18 and just concentrated on my routine,” Giovannettone said. “Just tried to keep all swing thoughts out of my mind. Kind of funny for an instructor, eh? I hit it as hard as I could.”
Giovannettone found the fairway 120 yards from the green and then hit her approach to 18 feet. Baker made it interested when she made a birdie, but Giovannettone two-putted to take the trophy.
“Brooke got kind of a bad break on 16,” Giovannettone said. “And at that point the putt becomes kind of circus-like. But we all faced it.”
As a fifth grader, Giovannettone told her teacher she wanted to go to perennial power Duke and be an LPGA pro. Her competitive dream has been altered, but not deferred. She played golf at Methodist College, became a teaching pro and has now won two significant titles in a month.
Baker also enjoyed the late battle.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t close a little better on 15, 16 and 17,” Baker said. “But I’m proud of I fought back and hung in there. After the first hole, which I bogeyed and Lorretta eagled, I was three back. And I turned that around and was there at the end. It was fun fighting it out.”
Giovannettone, Baker and Lintz were in a five-way tie for the lead after the first round before Giovannettone shot ahead with the eagle on No. 1. The trio remained major contenders until the final holes, and Lintz, a teaching pro at Oronoque CC in Stratford, got within a stroke of Baker when she birdied out of a fairway bunker at No. 14. But she airmailed the par-3 15th hole and made her first of three consecutive bogeys.
“Obviously there was a little adrenaline from the birdie, and I juiced it over the green,” Lintz said of No. 15. “I thought it would be up there in the middle of the green. To get up there and (find out) it was off the green, it was a total shocker. I hit the shot I wanted to.”
Lintz, one of the state’s leading instructors, said she had a chance to prove to the many members who followed her that she’s not an example of, ‘those who can’t do, teach.’
“I take away a lot of positives,” she said. “I really didn’t hit the ball well early. I think I hit four fairways, but I hung in there. And on the back nine, I began to strike it well. I think the adrenaline from the birdie on 14 caused that shot I hit on 15 to go so far.”
Jennifer Keim, 21, of South Yarmouth, Mass., who will be a junior at Florida Atlantic and had her mother Debbie, a teaching professional, on her bag, closed with a 67, the low round of the tournament, to take low amateur honors at 143. Ami Gianchandani of Yale was second low amateur at even par, and Sydney Yermish, 13, was third at 146.
Yermish tied with 2008 Connecticut Women’s Open champion Lynn Valentine, the leader among the senior women who played Brooklawn as a rehearsal for the third U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2020 and birdied No. 18 both rounds. Cindy Figg-Currier, who has five pro wins including the 1997 LPGA State Farm Rail Classic who will be part of the Senior Women’s Open field, shot 147 to tie for 11th. Christine Greatrex, director of instruction at Braeburn CC in Newton, Mass., shot 153 to tie for 20th. Four-time champion Liz Janangelo Caron, a teaching pro at the Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y., shot 161 to finish 40th.
Alexa Brown of Tashua Knolls GC in Trumbull, who will be a senior at Fairfield University, made her first hole-in-one on No. 5 en route to a closing 78 for a tie for 39th at 160. It was especially exciting for Brown because head pro/dad Bobby Brown was on her bag.
Another noteworthy accomplishment was 10-year-old Vincenza “Vinny” Papa of Foster, R.I., shooting a final-round 75 to tie for 20th at 153. Her sister, Gianna, 13, shot 166 to tie for 46th.
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