Two of the most useful weapons in golf are home-course knowledge and length off the tee.
Jessica Madsen took full advantage of both to shoot a four-over-par 77 and grab the first-round lead in the annual Northeastern Women’s Golf Association Championship Tuesday at Colonie Golf & Country Club.
The 19-year-old Madsen, who will begin her sophomore season at Daytona (Fla.) State College next month, holds a two-shot edge over former NEWGA champion Ella Kellogg of Hiland Golf Club.
Diana Ramos is in third place, another shot back.
Although she wasn’t one of the star players, Madsen’s Daytona State team won the NJCAA national championship this season. She competed in nine tournaments and used that experience to hone her game.
“It feels good to play so well in a tournament like this,” said Madsen, who enjoyed a solid junior career locally. “I’m playing in this because I’m trying to stay competitive this summer. There aren’t that many tournaments for me to play in.”
Madsen admitted that being the youngest player in the field — and the power that comes with it — helped her play aggressively.
“This is the kind of course where your length can really help you,” she said. “I grew up playing here, so I know the course extremely well. It’s not short, so you kind of need to hit the ball fairly long off the tee.”
Madsen birdied the eighth and 14th holes. She bogeyed the second, fourth, ninth and 18th holes. She also double-bogeyed the 13th hole when her second shot landed in the water hazard.
Her aggressive play cost her a stroke on the par-5 18th hole. She boomed a big drive and tried to reach the green in two with a fairway wood. In fact, she did reach the green in two, but it was the adjoining ninth green, and not the 18th. She tried to pitch back to the 18th green and landed short. Her next chip shot left her a six-footer for par, but she missed the putt.
“This is the first time I’ve ever played in the NEWGA Championship,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the final round.”
Madsen, a business major, said the intends to transfer from Daytona State after next season and hopes to land a golf scholarship at a four-year college.
Kellogg played one of her best rounds of the season to put herself in the title chase.
“I had an amazing day,” she said. “I hit the ball extremely well today.”
Kellogg rolled in four birdies. Her only major miscue was a double bogey on the short par-4 dogleg-left 11th hole. Instead of playing safe, she used a driver and ended up hitting her tee shot in the high rough to the left.
Ramos, who will join the final pairing today, had one birdie and one double bogey.
Defending champion Karen Feldman of Olde Kinderhook shot an 83, while three-time titlist Pat Mayne of Western Turnpike carded an 86. Former New York State Amateur super senior champion Gail
Brophy of Saratoga National, who is recuperating from recent cataract surgery, shot an 85.
The final round will be today, beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Championship flight — Jessica Madsen 77, Ella Kellogg 79, Diana Ramos 80, Karen Feldman 83, Gail Brophy 85, Pat Mayne 86, Chan Lee 92.
First flight — Peg Squazzo 85, Linda Kolnick 86, Carol Burke 95, Kathy Canestrini 95, Amy Fey 97, Robin Peters 98.
Second flight — Melinda Bucknam 88, Bonnie Taylor 89, Mary Ellen Trumbull 93, Donna Heskett 93, Celene McManus 110, Selena Balick 106, Myra Johnson 103.