Burlington’s Kayla Smith wins N.C. Women’s Amateur

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Kayla Smith’s first post-college golf tournament has the Williams High School alum yearning for more.

She won last week’s North Carolina Women’s Amateur.

“It’s definitely a good momentum push going into my next events,” Smith said.

Smith’s 8-under-par 208 for three rounds was good for a three-shot victory on Wake Forest golfer Macy Pate of Winston-Salem at Mooresville Golf Club. Smith, who recently completed her college career for North Carolina, birdied three (Nos. 13, 15, 16) of the final six holes.

With the victory, she earned an exemption into the U.S. Women’s Amateur later this summer. That will come before the Burlington golfer turns pro.

“That will be my last amateur and I’ll go from that to Q-school,” she said of the LPGA Tour qualifying series. “My plan the whole time was to play this summer as an amateur.”

Katherine Schuster of Kill Devil Hills placed third at 2 under, while Mebane’s Emily Mathews was in a three-way tie for fourth at 1 under.

Smith, who plays out of Alamance Country Club in Burlington, hadn’t played competitively since last month’s NCAA championships.

In the N.C. Women’s Amateur, Smith had scores of 72, 68, and 68 on the par-72 layout. There were four total sub-70 scores recorded in the tournament and Smith had two of those.

She said it was a matter of her putting coming around to make a difference on the tournament’s final day, which began with Pate holding a one-shot lead. Smith, Pate, Schuster, and Nicole Nash of Charlotte were in the final group.

“I really feel I’ve been hitting the ball really well,” Smith said.

The big prize, in Smith’s mind, was the automatic entry into the U.S. Women’s Amateur, which will be held from August 5-11 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Part of the reason I played in it this year was because of the U.S. Am,” she said. “That was a motivator.”

But her next tournament comes later this month in the North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst, playing Pinehurst No. 8 and famed Pinehurst No. 2, which was the site of last week’s U.S. Open. In July, she heads to the Women’s Western Amateur at Lake Forest, Illinois.

These will be good tune-ups as Smith transitions away from collegiate golf.

“When you go from being on a team it’s different from playing a tournament by yourself,” she said. “It’s a slow adjustment. I’ve experienced it in the past playing in summer tournaments, but now this will be consistently how it is.”

Mathews, a former high school state champion for Eastern Alamance who completed her freshman season for Virginia Tech this spring, shot rounds of 70, 73, and 72.

Mebane’s Kayla Dowell, an Alamance Christian School alum and member of the Gardner-Webb golf team, was 28th at 23 over (79, 80, 80) in the field of 46 entrants.

  • This week, Smith and Mathews were both listed on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference academic women’s golf team. Smith, who made the list for the third time in her five-year career, graduated with a major in exercise and sport science. Mathews majors in sports media and analytics.

Mebane teen contends

Alamance Christian School’s Holden Yakola shot 2-under-par 70 to finish tied for sixth last week in the U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier at Williamsburg National Golf Club’s Jamestown course in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Mebane teenager lost out in a nine-way playoff for the second alternate spot in the national tournament.

Hall Chapman of Chapel Hill was medalist with 66 and one of four qualifiers. There were about 80 entrants.