Aug. 21, 2018
MACUNGIE, Pa. — Amy Hajjar returned to her former stomping grounds to book a return trip to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
| Scoring portal |
The former Brookside Country Club of Allentown member turned in a career-low 1-under-par 71 to earn medalist honors in a U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at the par 72, 5,663-yard layout Tuesday. Also advancing were Merion Golf Club’s Catherine Elliott and Wild Quail Golf & Country Club’s Britny Whitby.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur will take place Sept. 22-27 at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, Mo.
“It still doesn’t feel real, especially with the way this year has been,” Hajjar, 32, of Jersey City, N.J., said. “I got married in April, so I knew my season was going to start later. I wouldn’t be able to practice as much. I was just hoping to get into another [U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur].”
A sixth straight U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, to be exact.
Any uncertainty on making such a feat possible lessened — on the surface that is — when Hajjar set foot on familiar surroundings. At age 27, she joined Brookside of Allentown. Although she is no longer a full member (blame a hectic city life), Hajjar still plays there six times annually as a guest.
“It’s definitely what I consider my hometown course. It’s where [husband Joe and I] got married,” she said. “I definitely had a hometown advantage, but with that course, it’s so challenging. I knew even though I had some local knowledge, execution was important. I was really just trying to break 80.”
She did just that — and then some.
A birdie-birdie start sent Hajjar toward subpar success. She used a hybrid to set up conversions of 20 and 10 feet, respectively, on Nos. 1 (par 4, 352 yards) and 2 (par 5, 483 yards).
“I thought, ‘It might be that kind of day,’” Hajjar, vice president of Goldman Sachs’ operations department, said. “Looking back on the day, out of my six birdies, three of them were approaching the green with my hybrid — the 160-yard range for me. Just to be anywhere near accurate with my hybrid is great. It was definitely my MVP club. It’s earned a spot in the bag.”
The par 4, 345-yard 15th hole represented scene No. 3 for Hajjar’s hybrid mastery. With her golf ball nestled in the right rough, she stayed down on her swing, allowing for premium flight to a responsive slope left of the hole location. Hajjar swept in a three-footer for birdie.
A “gift” on No. 17 (par 3, 147 yards) gave the Bucknell University alum a career highlight.
“My ball was up against the collar. I wasn’t exactly sure of how hard to hit it with my putter,” she said. “My dad [and caddie Don Loughney] was like, ‘Don’t worry. Just trust it. You shouldn’t need to take anymore motion because you’re not getting the whole ball.’ That’s not what I did. I hit it way too hard.
“It was tracking toward the hole and I was yelling at it. It hits the hole, pops straight up and goes in. Back on No. 11, I had a at least a 60-foot birdie putt that just rimmed out, and I was thinking it was karma giving me that putt back. Sometimes you need luck on your side.”
Luck is part of the game. Superstition is another. Good thing Hajjar, who competed in the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur, never checked her numbers.
“I have this superstition that I never count my score during the middle of a round,” she said. “I kind of had an idea where I was, but after finishing 18 and realizing I was under par for the first time in my career was really exciting.”
Like Hajjar, Whitby experienced a first Tuesday. She competed in her first USGA qualifier and subsequently earned an invitation to her first Championship proper.
“My husband (Jay) has gone to three [U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships]. He’s always told me, ‘I don’t know why you don’t do this. It’s so fun. You’re definitely good enough to qualify,’” Whitby, 28, of Wyoming, Del., said. “He was really pushing me to enter. It was just one of those things where I played really well.”
The Whitbys met during their playing days at University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Britny frequently caddies for Jay, a former Delaware State Golf Association Amateur and Open Champion. She did so Monday during a U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Qualifier at Cedarbrook Country Club.
The roles reversed Tuesday, which contributed to Britney’s 1-over-par 73 performance.
“Jay was just really calming all day. He was very motivating, which really helped,” she said. “His mindset for golf is fantastic. His mental game is so strong. I’m thankful I had him on the bag.”
Elliott feels thankful to earn back-to-back tickets to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, given limited links time of late.
“I’m really excited. I’m getting married in October, so I’ve had a lot on my plate,” Elliott, 30, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I wasn’t expecting to qualify because I haven’t been playing much. It’s an exciting tournament. I had such a good experience last year.”
Elliott, a Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia standout, appeared on the outside looking in after making the turn in 42 at Allentown. A fussy putter finally behaved.
“I had a shaky front nine because I wasn’t really trusting it,” she said. “Then I birdied No. 10, which got the back nine off to a good start. I just hung in there and was starting to feel more confident. I started trusting my lines with my short putts, making more confident strokes.”
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 260 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Amy Hajjar, Jersey City, N.J.||71|
|Britny Whitby, Wyoming, Del.||73|
|Catherine Elliott, Philadelphia, Pa.||79|
|Alternates (in order)|
|Meghan Perry, Wilmington, Del.||81|
|Keely Levins, Stamford, CT||83|
|Failed to qualify|
|Sarah Relyea, Bloomingdale, N.J.||85|
|Katie Dwyer, New York, N.Y.||88|
|Donna McHugh, Jupiter, Fla.||89|
|Muffy McCabe, Glen Mills, Pa.||91|
|Judith Dotten, Canada||WD|
|* — withdrawal|
August 25, 2023
March 29, 2023
December 5, 2023
December 4, 2023
December 1, 2023
November 30, 2023
November 27, 2023
November 22, 2023
November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023
November 17, 2023
November 17, 2023
November 15, 2023
November 14, 2023
November 9, 2023
November 9, 2023
November 7, 2023
October 30, 2023
October 30, 2023
October 26, 2023
October 25, 2023