Dawn Woodard wasn’t taking an eight shot lead for granted as she entered the final round of the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s amateur championship at Green Valley Country Club.
The Thornblade Club golfer had plenty of motivation in the championship. She was trying to tie legendary golfer Carolyn Cudone as the all-time leader with seven state amateur titles.
While the competition did not provide a substantial challenge Woodard had hoped that her competitive spirit would give her the spark needed to finish with a strong final round.
“I had to give myself a few goals to stay in it,” said Woodard. With an eight shot lead Ii had to manufacturer something,” she said.
Woodard played well and no golfer was able to shoot under par in the final round. The six time champion won her seventh title by 5 shots over incoming College of Charleston freshman Victoria Huskey.
“It is hard to manufacture the heat of the moment. I love the competition and with an eight shot lead something was missing for me today. Realistically as long as I go out and play well, I’m going to win, unless somebody shoots eight or nine under and if they do they deserve to win,” she said.
Woodard never was pressed and her lead never fell below five shots. The only time she felt some pressure was on the 15th hole. Huskey had rolled her approach shot to within inches of the hole while Woodard was left with a tricky five foot birdie putt.
“Victoria had a tap in and I had a five footer. When I made the putt I had a little pep in my step, but it didn’t last too long,” she said. “I tried to keep that anything you can do, I can do better attitude going. I had it in the first and second round, but even when I was trying hard to get it, it just wasn’t there today.
With a comfortable lead and knowing the biggest challenge was playing up to her high standards Woodard was disappointed with her final round 77 and especially a bogey on the final hole.
“Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t out there just playing not to make a mistake. I’m glad it didn’t get close,” Woodard said.
With the victory Woodard ties Cudone’s record of seven amateur titles. Cudone won her championships between 1970 and 1977. In addition to the record winning streak in South Carolina, Cudone won five straight USGA Senior Women’s Championships between 1968 and 1972. Her five straight victories is a USGA record for most consecutive wins in any USGA championship.
Woodard met Cudone when she was a junior player at a tournament named for the Hall of Fame golfer.
“It is cool to win number seven. I knew she was a great player not only in the state, but on the national level too,” Woodard said.
This year the WSCGA Amateur championship was moved from the fall to June to allow high school and college players the opportunity to compete. The field included a dozen golfers who did not have the opportunity to play in the event during the school year.
Even though the change in the date will create more competition for Woodard in the future, the champion is an enthusiastic supporter of the change.
“If you are going to have a state championship you want all the golfers who can play be in the field. I know there were some conflicts with other tournaments this year, but I think in the future we are going to get more college players and high school players in the tournament,” said the champion.
Woodard can break the tie with Cudone if she can win her eighth title next spring. The WSCGA Amateur will be played on Woodard’s home course at Thornblade Club.
“The previous seven will have nothing to do with next year. If this wasn’t my seventh win I would be trying just as hard to win. I like to win and I hate to lose,” concluded Woodard.
Junior golfer Jaelyn Tindal of Rock Hill finished third while three-time WSCGA Amateur champion Lea Venable finished in fourth place.
The State Division Championship was won by Betty Jean Armbruster of the Carolina Country Club. Armbruster won the Division title by two shots over Louise Givens of Lexington Country Club.
The Net Division Championship was won by Christine Ring of River Falls Plantation.
Flight winners included, Championship 1 – Jaelyn Tindal, Championship 2 – Beth Ann Townsend, Championship 3 – Pam Prescott. State Division 1 – Louise Givens, State Division 2 – Emily White, State Division 3 – Leah Bohnen, State Division 4 – Dana Halliday, State Division 5 – Jean Burns.