HARTFORD, Conn. – Melissa Siviter struggled on the front nine but persevered down the stretch to notch a four-stroke victory in the Connecticut Women’s Open at the Black Hall Club in Old Lyme.
Siviter shared the first-round lead with amateurs Angela Garvin and Kaitlyn Lee at even-par 72, fell one back at the turn in the second round and then rallied for her first professional victory, putting a stranglehold on the title with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole that elicited a fist pump.
“This win means a lot to me,” said Siviter, who plays out of the Golf Club of Georgia and earned $3,000. “It has been a long time coming. I have been close a number of times and just haven’t gotten it done so to get it done this time means a lot. You never know if you can do it until you get over the edge, so I am just super happy right now.”
Siviter, 30, closed with a 74 to finish four ahead of four-time champion Liz (Janangelo) Caron, Ami Gianchandi of Yale and Sophia Sarrazin, winner of the 2020 Connecticut Women’s Amateur.
Lee, who plays out of Westchester (N.Y.) Country Club, birdied the eighth hole to take the lead at the turn at 1 over, one ahead of Siviter, who plays on the Women’s All-Pro Tour. Siviter took the lead when she parred the 10th through 14th holes while Lee was making bogeys on Nos. 11 and 14. Siviter bogeyed the 15th hole but gained a shot when Lee made double bogey.
Siviter then all but clinched the title when she made the critical putt on the 16th hole.
“When that putt went in, I thought I really had a chance to win,” Siviter said. “But the par-3 17th hole isn’t an easy shot with the water on the left. But I stuck it to 15 feet, and that kind of settled the nerves. … I knew par was going to be my friend, so I didn’t try and pull off any crazy shots. I just kept hitting one shot at a time until I got to the 18th. I didn’t really know where I stood, so I just kept telling myself par is my friend.”
Lee said her putting and chipping saved her a lot, but the biggest difference between the first and second rounds is her shots weren’t as consistent.
“I was able to scramble and get up and down on the front nine, but I guess I kind of ran out of gas on the back,” Lee said. “But I am pretty happy with how I played besides the last five holes. I think I play well under pressure despite what the scoreboard said today, and I’m excited to see how I play in the next few events.”
Caron is a teaching pro at the Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y., where her husband, Jason Caron, is the head pro after playing on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. She won a record five consecutive Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Championships before becoming a four-time All-American at Duke and being part of two national championship teams and the Player of the Year twice.
Sarrazin is a Westport resident who plays on the Hamden Hall Country Day boys golf team and her teammates included Ben James, who won the Connecticut Junior Amateur champion and finished third in the Connecticut Open in 2019.
Gianchandani (Watchung Valley GC) was the 2020 Ivy League Player of the Year after being the 2015 New Jersey State Golf Association Junior Girls champion, a four-time New Jersey PGA Player of the Year and a four-time NJPGA Girls All-State Team selection.
Lee, Furman University’s Kyra Cox and Jean Batholomew tied for fifth at 151. Garvin, a junior at the University of Maryland, struggled to a second-round 83 and finished 15th at 155. Sarrazin and Gianchandani shared low amateur honors.