Sarah Burnham is batting a thousand as a golf professional.
Burnham birdied five of seven holes midway through the final round Wednesday to bolt past faltering frontrunners Elsa Diaz and amateur Danielle Bambola on the way to a six-stroke victory in her pro debut in the Connecticut Women’s Open at Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich.
Burnham, a Michigan State student from Rush Creek GC in Maple Grove, Minn., started four back of first-round leader Diaz but used the hot stretch starting at the sixth hole to shoot a 4-under-par 68 for a 36-hole of 7-under 137 that earned her $4,000. Burnham, the Big Ten Player of the Year the past two seasons, capped the win with her sixth birdie of the day at the par-3 18th hole.
“I figured if I could stay with my game, I had a good chance to win,” said Burnham, who hopes to play on the Symetra Tour while finishing one remaining semester at Michigan State before going to the LPGA qualifying school in August. “This definitely gives me confidence going forward. I think I belong (on the LPGA Tour), and I definitely know I can hang with the pros.”
Diaz, from San Antonio, Texas, and coming off graduation from the University of Richmond, lost her lead to Bambola when she double-bogeyed the sixth hole. But Bambola, 19, from Cortland College and the eClub of the New York State Golf Association, went 9 over for nine holes in a closing 81 that dropped her into a tie for fourth at 148 with Bloomfield native Nathalie Filler (Philadelphia Cricket Club, 74), winner of the 2015 New England Women’s Golf Association Championship.
Diaz, who made her pro debut in the LPGA Kingsmill Championship last week, lost any chance to win when she made double-bogey 6 at No. 12 in a final-round 77 for 143. That was three less than four-time winner Liz Janangelo Caron, who shot successive 73s. Caron is a West Hartford native and four-time All-American at Duke who is a teaching pro at the Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y., where she works with her husband, Jason, a Cape Cod native who played the Nationwide Tour and won the 2012 Connecticut Open.
STREET WINS; WESTWOODS RECOGNIZED
William Street (Whitney Farms GC-Monroe) shot 1-under 70 to earn 25 points and win the Walter Lowell PGA Tournament, a modified stableford event, at Wethersfield CC.
Joe Condomitti (Bull’s Bridge GC-Kent) won the Augusta National Division, comprised of PGA members with the fewest years of membership, by match cards. With the second fewest years of membership, the Shinnecock Division was led by Street, but Kevin Mahaffy (Pequabkc GC-Bristol) took the division title since Street was first overall. The Carnoustie Division included those with the second-most years of service, and Mike Martin (Clubs to Go) won with 22 points. Dave Dell (Springfield CC) earned 22 points to win the Bellerive Division, consisting of the longest serving PGA members. In the team foursome cumulative contest, Street, Bryan Mooney, Jim St. Pierre and Bob Mucha won with 76 points.
Westwoods Golf Course in Farmington received the Walter Lowell Public Golf Course Distinguished Service Award. Lowell and his family operated Canton Public GC for more than 80 years, and the PGA Life Member has held countless Section offices and is a member of the PGA of America Hall of Fame and was the 1978 PGA of America Golf Professional of the Year. The award recognizes a course’s unwavering efforts to make golf fun, accessible to all, and for the advancement in the understanding of the game’s Rules of Golf and etiquette among its patrons.
“To be selected to receive this award is a real honor,” said Westwoods pro Larry Graham, a longtime friend and admirer of Lowell. “Anything having to do with Walter Lowell is truly special because he is held in such high regard in the association.” Westwooods is a par-61 executive style golf, designed and built in 1965 by Geoffrey Cornish, a popular New England designer who worked on many local projects.
Tom Hantke, who is in his 25th year as Connecticut Section PGA executive director, was an invited official at the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, chaperoning the 12- and 13-year-old girls at Augusta National. The event was held on the Sunday before the Masters, and Hantke said it was an unbelievable experience for everyone involved.