PLYMOUTH — Catie Schernecker needed 19 holes in the round of 32, 20 in the quarterfinals, and 19 in the semifinals to advance to the 118th Massachusetts Women’s Amateur championship at Plymouth Country Club.
Friday morning, as she battled 2018 champion and three-time Mass Golf Player of the Year Shannon Johnson in the unrelenting heat, the 19-year-old needed only 14 in the championship match.Schernecker, an incoming freshman at Harvard who plays out of The Country Club in Brookline, won, 5 and 4, on the par-70 course.
The Winsor School product, whose father is Harvard’s director of golf, is hoping to use this victory as momentum as she starts a new chapter in college.
“This is my last tournament of the summer, so it’s really awesome,” Schernecker said. “I felt like I really played my best today.”
Schernecker had what she called a “surprise birdie” on No. 1 when she sank a 16-footer to pull ahead of Johnson, 38, who plays out of Thorny Lea in Brockton. Another birdie on 5 extended her lead, both golfers had birdies on 8, and Schernecker coasted the rest of the way.
As a deep 94-player field shrank throughout the week, Schernecker relied on some late-hole magic to advance. She was one of five teenagers to reach the quarterfinals, where she outlasted Victoria Veator.
After an improbable 75-foot birdie putt on the 18th helped her stay afloat against South Yarmouth’s Jennifer Keim, she won the first playoff hole to advance to the championship.
Schernecker acknowledged she was a bit nervous entering Friday’s final, but if her 75-footer the day before was any indication, pressure doesn’t seem to faze her. Schernecker played her best golf of the tournament when it mattered most against one of the most formidable and experienced opponents in the field.
“She’s a great player and competitor, and you can never, ever count her out,” Schernecker said of Johnson. “I just try to stay present and stay in my game, and I closed it out with a birdie putt on 13 and a solid putt on 14.”
Schernecker, who has played in the Women’s Amateur each of the past five seasons, called it her favorite event of the year. She played 126 holes in five days — by far the most of any competitor.
Despite some inclement weather, the week was a success, and Kevin Eldridge, director of rules and competitions with Mass Golf, said the course was fantastic.
He credited Schernecker for grinding out win after win.
“She was a fierce competitor in match play,” Eldridge said. “She never let herself get too far down or think it might be over. She really stuck through it throughout the entire event, and especially those extra-hole matches that she played.”