Szeryk scores Women's Western Am title

Writing from River Forest, Illinois

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Maddie Szeryk had one critical edge over Dylan Kim in Saturday’s stellar championship match of the 117th Women’s Western Amateur at River Forest Country Club.

When she absolutely needed to, Szeryk could summon a solid approach or sink a big putt.

That was evident several times in the course of the double-round match, and enabled her to close out Kim by a 3 and 1 margin. While Kim missed the green of the 526-yard par 5 with her third shot, Szeryk was able to drill an approach to about -- feet and calmly two-putt for the victory, Kim missing her 15-foot par-saver.

Szeryk, a 21-year-old dual U.S.-Canadian citizen who registered from London, Ont., but calls Allen, Tex. home and will be a senior at Texas A&M in the fall, took control of the match on the second nine in the morning. Birdies on four of five holes beginning at the par-4 10th moved her three-up on Kim, who has left Baylor and expects to know next month where she’ll go to school in the fall.

Szeryk got as much as 4-up on two occasions before Kim rallied, including pulling to within two holes with wins on the 13th and 15th holes in the afternoon, but that margin proved too difficult to overcome, and Szeryk lifted the W.A. Alexander Cup.

“It’s good to win a match-play tournament,” Szeryk said. “It’s pretty awesome to win this.”

It was pretty awesome how she did it, scoring 5-under 67 – with the usual match-play concessions – in the morning and going around the 17 holes in the afternoon in 1-under-par. Kim scored the equivalent of 3-under 69 in the morning and 2-under in the afternoon, but Szeryk’s timing in that mid-morning stretch, with birdies on the par-4 10th to go 1-up, the par-3 11th to match Kim, the par-4 12th to go 2-up and the par-4 14th to go 3 up, build a margin that Kim couldn’t overcome. In the end, that caught up with her.

“It’s tough when you’re 2-down with two holes to go,” Kim said. “But it was a good week. I’m happy with the way I played, disappointed with the finish.

“It was kind of the way you want a championship match to be played.”

Both Szeryk and Kim had scored 1-under 143 in qualifying, one off the lead, and each marched through match play, Szeryk dramatically in the semifinal, when she was extended to the 20th hole by Francesca Olivarez-Ilas of the Phillipines. 

Two years ago, Szeryk advanced to the quarterfinals of the British Ladies Amateur. Saturday, while world No. 1 amateur Leona Maguire was winning this year’s edition of that, Szeryk stuck closer to home and won a nationally-recognized title of her own, the biggest of her career.

Tim Cronin

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