If the USGA ever decided to hold a US Open at Southern Oaks, Lea Venable would give the field two a side and still probably win. The Holly Tree Country Club golfer is undefeated on the course near Easley.
“I won a County here and we play in some captain’s choice tournaments and a few other business things and I always win,” she said after accepting the trophy as the champion of the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s Match Play championship.
“I love this course, it just seems to set up well for me. I always play it well and look forward to playing here,” she said.
Venable started the event as the second seed behind Thornblade’s Dawn Woodard.
The limited field was pre-flighted before beginning three days of golf to crown winners in the Championship bracket and the State Bracket.
Woodard already owned 6 match play titles to go along with her 9 WSCGA state championships during the very successful amateur career of the former Furman golfer.
Venable was a past champion in the event as well. The former USC golfer finished with wins in 2015 and 2017.
As two of the most accomplished golfers in the upstate, it was no surprise they ended up facing each other in the final match.
Woodard won her way into the final by topping Sandi Teller from Blackmore Golf Club and followed up the first round win with a victory over Taryn Dalton from River Hills Country Club.
Venable won her way into the final with victories over Margaret Olsen from the Carolinas TOC and Nancy Dodge from the Mid-Carolina Club, both by comfortable margins.
The first four holes were played even, but Venable won the 6th, 7th and 9th hole to break out of a tie and take a three-hole lead.
The two-time champion made herself a three-time champion by finishing off the match on the 14th hole to claim the win at 4 up.
Venable believed in her success on the course, but that was only part of the reason.
“Dawn is such a good player and especially a good driver of the ball. Around here (Southern Oaks) you don’t use a driver very often, but your short game has to carry you because you will have to hit a lot of different shots,” said Venable.
The new champion used just about every club in her bag to get around the course.
“I had a good week chipping and putting and it showed up in the scores of the matches,” she said.
Venable, who like Woodard, recently played in the US Mid Am is a regular in WSCGA events.
“Its fun. I support the WSCGA. At the end of the day this is what made me a junior golfer, so why not support what brought you here and that is what makes it special for me. Some people move on but this is what molded a lot of us as kids, so why not play in WSCGA.tournaments,” said Venable.
The State Division championship was contested between two good friends and golfing buddies.
Leah Bohnen from Three Pines Country Club and Dana Halliday from The Country Club of Spartanburg matched up in the final.
Halliday held the early lead, but after the turn Bohnen won three straight holes and added two more to win the Division title 3-1.
When the match was bouncing between the two gofers Bohnen’s near miracle shot helped move the momentum to her side of the scorecard.
“I hit a bad tee shot and was near some water with a trap between me and the green. I hit a sand wedge and made it. The birdie got things going for me the rest of the round,” said Bohnen.
While the championship was decided by traditional bracket play, all the golfers in the field were able to play three days at Southern Oaks.
Consolation and other Bracket winners included: State Bracket 2 – Jane Gwinn, Greenville Country Club, State Bracket 3: Esther Mishoe, Cummings Cove Golf Club. Championship Consolation: Margaret Olsen, Carolinas YOC. State Division 1 Consolation: Joyce Davis, Three Pines Country Club. State Division 2 Consolation: Beverly Scarborough, Carolina Springs Golf Club. State Division 3 Consolation: Elizabeth Bethel, The Links at Stoney Point.
Scores from the WSCGA Match Play Championship https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/8653560208531965657