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U.S. Senior Women’s Open Qualifier

Maxfeldt earns U.S. Senior Women’s Open ticket

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SWAINTON, N.J. — A leukemia diagnosis two years ago halted Kammy Maxfeldt’s competitive golf career. Body and mind focused on treatment, not tournaments.

With her health trending in the right direction, Maxfeldt decided to break the hiatus by entering the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. That decision unlocked a day she’ll never forget.

An emotional Maxfeldt earned the lone qualifying position available in a U.S. Senior Women’s Open Qualifier administered by GAP at Union League National Golf Club (par 72, 5,994 yards) Tuesday. She bested fellow professional Diane Rama in a sudden-death playoff.

Both players finished regulation tied at 7-over-par 79.

The U.S. Senior Women’s Open will take place May 16-19 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.

“It’s pretty cool. It means a lot to me to play competitive golf again because I have not been able to the last couple of years,” Maxfeldt, 58, of Norwalk, Conn., said. “I can’t wait to have the opportunity [to compete in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles].”

On the second playoff hole (No. 11, par 5, 478 yards), Maxfeldt left a 7-iron some 20 feet above the hole location. Rama, meanwhile, took an unplayable lie from a bunker and walked away with a double bogey. A safe 6 punched a ticket.

“I don’t think there are many people who love to play golf as much as I do, and it felt really good to hit irons the way I did today,” Maxfeldt, head professional of Birchwood Country Club for 17 years, said. “It’s the strongest point in my game, and I just hit them so well. I really didn’t think 79 would qualify. I was just so excited to make that many pars. It was a personal goal to come back from being 5 over after seven holes.”

Maxfeldt also credited her caddie, Jack Sullivan, with a qualifying assist.

“I hit a 6-iron 170 yards on the last hole (No. 18, par 4, 374 yards) and it went 12 feet past [the flagstick]. I don’t hit 6-iron 170 yards, but he knew how much bounce I was going to get from those firm greens,” Maxfeldt said. “He was very good. He’s so positive.”

Maxfeldt, who receives treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will make her fourth appearance in a USGA championship. She last competed in the 1993 U.S. Women’s Open at Crooked Stick.

Perhaps the clouds — literally and spiritually — paved a return path Tuesday.

“The [U.S. Senior Women’s Open Qualifier] closest to me is next Tuesday, and that’s Ladies’ Opening Day at Birchwood. I didn’t want to miss that. I can’t miss that,” Maxfeldt, a University of Oklahoma graduate, said. “[Union League National] was my only option. I almost went up to Massachusetts last week. I waited to enter until the last day of the deadline. I watched the forecast to see which site was going to have the best weather. South Jersey was the better of the two. Plus, it gave me one more week to play.

“My dad (Arlen) passed away three months ago, and no one was more supportive of me than he was. He was an angel on my shoulder today.”

GAP
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, 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 274 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Qualifiers           

Name, city          Score

*Kammy Maxfeldt, Norwalk, Conn.          79

Alternates (in order)     

Diane Rama, Harleysville, Pa.      79

(a) Noreen Mohler, Bethlehem, Pa.           80

Failed to qualify              

Kathleen Ricci, Howell, N.J.          82

Linda Nevatt, Warminster, Pa.    82

Lisa Diprospero-Day, Coatesville, Pa.       83

*—determined in playoff; (a)-denote amateur