Jessica Madsen was almost too comfortable during the final round of the NEWGA Championship, and her nearest competitor might have been to blame.
“She’s nice to play with. She’s such a nice young kid, that it was almost like playing with my daughter,” said former champion Ella Kellogg. “In fact, she’s just about my daughter’s age.”
Calm and collected, the 19-year-old Madsen couldn’t pull away from her playing partner until the final two holes, but she eventually picked up three shots and won her first NEWGA title Wednesday at Colonie Golf & Country Club.
Madsen posted a three-over-par 76 in the final round for a two-day total of 153. Kellogg shot a 77 and wound up with a 156.
Madsen, a member of the host club, will be a sophomore at Daytona (Fla.) State College, and she only recently joined NEWGA to get some more rounds in before she returns to school.
“She [Kellogg] made me work today,” said Madsen. “She really came to play. Even though I hit the ball fairly solid and made some putts, Ella was right there all the way.”
Madsen and Kellogg, who plays out of Hiland Golf Club, were tied going to the par-4 17th hole. While Madsen boomed a huge drive leaving her a short iron approach on the 315-yard par-4, Kellogg pulled her tee shot into the trees on the left.
“I didn’t want to go right with that water hazard there,” said Kellogg. “I made some poor decisions today.”
Although she had a window to the green, Kellogg didn’t have a great lie in the rough, and she only managed to hit her second shot about 40 yards, back into the fairway. She reached the green in three and two-putted for bogey. Madsen had a 20-foot birdie attempt but settled for a two-putt par that gave her a one-shot lead.
The long-hitting Madsen had a huge advantage on the 373-yard, par-5 finishing hole, and she ripped her tee shot to within 125 yards of the pin. A nine-iron approach shot settled 15 feet beneath the cup, and she two-putted for birdie.
Kellogg also had a solid tee shot, but she pulled her 3-wood into the fairway bunker. She reached the green in three, but three-putted for bogey.
“I was just trying to stay with her,” said Kellogg, who had three birdies in the final round. “She’s an excellent player, and she is very long. She can get to all the par-5s, and that was a big advantage over me. I think I had a little advantage on the shorter shots.
“I think I played very well over the last two days. The course is in great shape, and I was able to putt very well, even though I had been in a putting slump recently,” Kellogg said.
Madsen birdied the fifth, 10th and 14th holes along with the 18th, but she had two blowup holes that almost spoiled her round. She triple-bogeyed the par-5 third hole and had a double-bogey on the par-3 15th hole.
“Nos. 3 and 15 killed me,” she said. “On the third hole, I found the trees with my driver, and I couldn’t get back to the fairway. On the 15th hole, I missed the green, and then I had a three-putt.”
Madsen said the tournament win should help her elevate her game once she returns to the Daytona State golf team, which won the NJCAA title last spring.
“I needed to get some competitive rounds in before I went back to school, and this was just perfect,” she said.
Championship flight — Jessica Madsen 76-153, Ella Kellogg 77-156, Diana Ramos 80-160, Karen Feldman 83-166, Gail Brophy 84-169, Pat Mayne 87-173, Chan Lee 94-186.
First flight — Linda Kolnick 87-173, Peg Squazzo 97-182, Carol Burke 94-189, Kathy Canestrini 97-192, Amy Fey 98-195, Robin Peters WD.
Second flight — Melinda Bucknam 94-182, Bonnie Taylor 99-188, Mary Ellen Trumbull 95-188, Donna Heskett 95-188, Selena Balick 101-207, Myra Johnson 105-208, Celene McManus 105-215.