REXFORD — Defending champion Kennedy Swedick played the waiting game during the opening round of the NYSPHSAA Girls Golf Championship at The Edison Club.
In extremely windy conditions, the Albany Academy for Girls junior standout didn’t quite have her “A” game in the ball-striking department, especially on the front nine.
But she waited patiently until her timing and swing clicked back into place, eventually surging to the top of the leaderboard with a 2-under-par 70.
Swedick, who used her length off the tee on the back nine to set up two of her three birdies on that side, holds a 3-shot edge over Scarsdale sophomore Emma Lee heading into today’s final round. Seventh-grader Hayden Knapp of South Glens Falls carded a 74 and is another shot back. Play begins with a 9 a.m. shotgun.
Albany Academy for Girls holds a 21-stroke advantage over Ursuline of Section 1 in the high school team competition. Section 1 leads Section 2 by 7 shots in the sectional team competition.
“On the front side, I just wasn’t clicking,” said Swedick, who also won the NYS Women’s Amateur a year ago. “I played decent, and I didn’t make any mistakes, but I made a lot of little mistakes that added up. I had two birdies, but I also had two bogeys on the front. I hit a poor wedge shot on one of the holes, and I got a poor break on the other hole when my ball landed on the edge of the bunker. But I didn’t get close enough to give myself many birdie opportunities on the other holes.”
Swedick was able to grab some momentum on the back nine and recorded birdies on the 14th ,16th and 17th holes. She also made key up-and-down pars on the 15th and 18th holes.
“I was patient today, and that’s my one goal going into this year,” Swedick said. “I knew that the putts would eventually drop and that I would eventually get my approach shots closer to the hole. After I bogeyed the one par-3 on the back side, I said to myself let’s see how many birdies I can get. I finally had a good approach shot on the 14th hole to set up a birdie, and that up-and-down par on the 15th kept my momentum going. That was a tough pin on a very tough hole.”
Swedick said she was well aware of the wind on every hole.
“Definitely, the wind was a big factor today. It was not only constant on every hole, but it was also gusting from time to time,” she said.
Unlike past seasons, Swedick didn’t know that she was the first-round leader until she got to the clubhouse.
“I wasn’t looking at the leaderboard today,” she noted. “This year, I’m changing my mindset and focusing on my shots and my routine regardless of the situation. That’s a big difference this year.”
Lee, who rolled in 3 birdies, said The Edison Club was quite different than any course back in Scarsdale. “I had a practice round the week before with my dad. It’s a nice course, but it’s very straightforward. I’d say it’s really different from any course I play down there. The main difference was the greens. It was really hard to keep my ball on the greens. They were so firm. With the wind today, I kept blasting my shots past the green. But overall, I’m very happy with my round. I made a couple of shots that I kind of regret, but overall it was good.”
Knapp was even-par going into her final hole thanks to 6 birdies, but a double bogey on the 18th hole dropped her back into third place.
Other Section 2 players included Zorah Williams of Emma Willard (77), Maria Jackson of Saratoga Springs (80), Nicole Criscone of Albany Academy for Girls (81), Samantha Von Rohr of Albany Academy for Girls (83), Jillian Rawson of Albany Academy for Girls (83), Tekla Fine-Lease of Queensbury (87) and Sienna Wheeler of Colonie (87).
Leaders – Kennedy Swedick (Albany Academy for Girls) 70, Emma Lee (Scarsdale) 73, Hayden Knapp (South Glens Falls) 74, Nina Chloe (Ursuline) 75, Renna Chang (Jericho) 75, Juyeon Paek (Horace Greeley) 75, Allison Kahn (Scarsdale) 76, Sofia Nogalo (Ursuline) 76, Ella Girard (Ward Melville) 77, Zorah Williams (Emma Willard) 77, Julia Zigrossi (Our Lady of Mercy) 78, Madison Chen (Manhasset) 78, Ava Estrella (Friends Academy) 78, Delaney Abel (Corning Painted Post) 80 ,Rosalie Dinunzio (Clarence) 80, Maria Jackson (Saratoga Springs) 80, Sophia Cellura (Our Lady of Mercy) 80, Nicole Criscone (Albany Academy for Girls) 81, Audrey Chen (The Wheatley School) 81, Kylie Dean (Clarence) 82, Chelsea Wang (Rye Neck) 82, Lia Huang (Great Neck) 82.
Other Section 2 players – Jillian Rawson (Albany Academy for Girls) 83, Samantha Von Rohr (Albany Academy for Girls) 83, Tekla Fine-Lease (Queensbury) 87, Sienna Wheeler (Colonie) 87.
Section Team Title – Section 1 540, Section 2 548, Section 8 568, Section 11 603, Section 5 619, Section 9 627, Section 6 631, Section 4 642, Section 3 658, Section 7 805, Section 10 inc.
High School Team Title – Albany Academy 317, Ursuline 336, Our Lady of Mercy 344, Clarence 349, Great Neck 363, Sachem 393, Cicero North Syracuse 399, Horseheads 405, Monroe-Woodbury 475, Boquet Valley inc.