The champions in RIGA Amateur events keep getting younger and younger, although the record Addy Douglas set Friday could stand for a long time
The 16-year-old from Newport Country Club who still has two years remaining at The Prout School became the youngest person to win the State Amateur when she held off Kibbe Reilly, 1 up, at the Rhode Island Country Club.
Douglas built a 3-up lead and lost it when Reilly made a host of clutch putts. Douglas went back ahead when she won the 16th before both players parred in. The match was not decided until Douglas made a three-foot par putt on 18.
The result means the record Davis Chatfield set last year, when he won the men’s amateur at age 17, lasted only one year. The women’s final on a beautiful day along the bay had many similarities to the 38-hole thriller Chatfield had in edging Kevin Silva for the men’s title last year. Both were thrillers.
“Coming in I expected nothing,’’ the new champion said. “I think it’s pretty cool to say you’re the youngest.’’
“I would prefer to win, always,’’ said the 61-year-old Reilly. “Honestly, wasn’t that a great match?’’
“`She’s outstanding,’’ Reilly went on about Douglas, who she had never met until Thursday. “She’s an outstanding golfer and more importantly a really outstanding human being. That kid is great. . . A lot of class, a lot of class. I enjoyed being with her today. It would have been great to have won, but I have a great life.’’
Five of the first eight holes were halved. The three holes that were not, 1, 4 and 8 were all won by Douglas, all with birdies. Since Douglas has been the medalist, and had been under-par in winning her semifinal match, it did not look good for Reilly. But the veteran, who has been a contender almost every year for the past 20 years, including reaching the final in 2007, would not go away easily.
She won the ninth with a bird and the 10th with a par to draw within one. The pattern was the same throughout, Douglas with a smooth, flowing swing, would outdrive Reilly by up to 40 yards, but Reilly would play beautifully around the greens, using great work with her putter to make pars.
Douglas won 11 with a par, but Reilly drew back within one when she won 12 with a par. The 13th looked as if it could be pivotal. Reilly made a one-putt par. Douglas nearly got home in two, chipped nicely but missed her short birdie putt and had to settle for a halve. For perhaps the first time in the match, the momentum looked to be on Reilly’s side. Reilly did pull even at 15 when she canned a seven-foot birdie putt.
The 16th proved the difference maker. Reilly was about 20 yards short in two on the par-4 but had to pitch over a bunker. She scuffed it into the bunker and made six to lose the hole. The question became whether the 16-year-old could close it out. Reilly forced her to prove it. Douglas showed the poise of a veteran.
“Kibbe made a lot of great putts. Her putting was outstanding all this week I heard. Her short game, everything was awesome and she’s such a nice lady, too.’’
“I don’t think it was that much pressure,’’ Douglas said of going to 17 with the lead. “It would have been pressure if it was all square. I was one up, so there was kind of a safety net.’’
Both made par on the picturesque 17, with Reilly narrowly missing her 10-foot birdie putt that could have tied it, a putt she said later she would like to have back. On 18, Douglas again outdrove Reilly by about 40 yards, plus Reilly was in the right rough. But she drilled it out with a fairway wood on the green, about 20 feet left of the hole. Playing quickly as both competitors did all day, Douglas ripped her approach right at the hole, finishing about 10 feet above the cup.
Both two putted for par, giving Douglas the title.
In the lower divisions, Nancy O’Neill edged Patricia LaBossiere, 1 up, for the Past President’s Bowl. It was O’Neill’s second title in the division. The first was 20 years ago. In the President’s Bowl, Patti D’Ambrosio beat Jennifer Hendrick-McCrory, 3 and 2.