There’s a recurring phenomenon in Tennessee women’s amateur golf that you might refer to as the Vanderbilt double. Three times in the past 10 summers, a Commodore has won the women’s state amateur and the women’s state open.
Senior Lauren Stratton last week became the latest.
“There’s some good history in this state golf-wise, and just getting my name on the trophy is pretty cool, let alone doing it in the same summer,” she said. “It’s a real honor.”
Commodores sophomore Kendall Martindale accomplished the feat a year before Stratton, and Sarah Jacobs was the first, during the summer of 2003. Vanderbilt, a private school with about 13,000 students in Nashville, is far from the largest school in the state, as Stratton notes. It’s a big deal.
“By the time I picked up my phone, I had voicemails from Coach (Greg Allen) and my assistant coach (Holly Clark),” Stratton said of the Tennessee Women’s Open final round.
Stratton finished one shot ahead of LPGA player Mo Martin after posting 5-under 211 at Stonehenge Golf Club in Crossville. Stratton won the Tennessee Women’s Amateur after advancing through a match-play bracket that pitted her against Martindale, the No. 1 seed, defending champion and a teammate, in the semifinals. Stratton won, 1 up.
Stratton isn’t sure she can call one victory better than the other – they were so different. Winning in a heavily professional field proves that a post-college pro career wouldn’t just be “wasting too much of my time.” But match play, a format which Stratton rarely plays, is exciting because it means only worrying about one player on one day.
Stratton, who lives in Spring Hill, less than an hour south of the Vandy campus, is a player who will tell you that she relished the past three years in Vanderbilt star Marina Alex’s shadow. However, with her own stint inside Golfweek’s top 10 individual players early in the spring, Stratton wasn’t exactly in the shadow – she was just soaking up all the knowledge she could from a player who left Vanderbilt as the school’s all-time leading scorer. This year, Stratton will have the opportunity to lead Vanderbilt, a team that finished last year at No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
“I’ve got big shoes to fill with Marina being gone, but it probably takes a couple people to fill her shoes,” she said. “Not one person can fill that.”
Seems Stratton doesn’t give herself enough credit.
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She’ll be back: Alison Lee’s eleventh-hour loss in the U.S. Girls’ Junior final on July 21 was painful to watch. Lee walked off the 12th green with a 3-up lead, but by the time she got to the 17th tee, she was 1 down to opponent Minjee Lee.
“I guess I wanted it too much,” Alison said of her collapse down the stretch.
While most of the attention surrounded Minjee that afternoon, Alison kept her chin up in the aftermath. When she took to the podium to accept the runner-up honor, she turned and delivered this line to Minjee: “I’m so proud of you.”
Alison is a veteran of 12 U.S. Golf Association championships, and six of them were U.S. Girls’ Juniors. Consider her trip to the final a breakthrough. The farthest she had been in a USGA match-play bracket before last week was the Round of 16. She got there at the 2009 and ’11 Girls’ Juniors.
When she gets there again, Lee promised after the final, things won’t end the same way.
“I’ll know what to do.”
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Short shots: Carol Semple Thompson won the Women’s Western Pennsylvania Championship on July 20 for the 14th time in her career. She defeated Courtney Myhrum in 21 holes during the final match at Oakmont Country Club. . . . Oregon sophomore Cassy Isagawa won the Hawaii Match Play Championship on July 20, defeating Lisa Kang, 2 and 1, in the final match at Oahu Country Club.