LUMBERTON — When Hayley Hammond, Pat Brogden and Mallory Hetzel walked off of the 11th green at Pinecrest Country Club, it was anyone’s guess as to who would be the champion of the 65th North Carolina Women’s Amateur Championship.
All three were tied, but two holes later Hammond made her move. She tapped in a two foot birdie putt to give herself a three-stroke lead after sticking an approach shot from 150 yards out, a sequence that resonated with the Mooresville resident.
“When I got up there and saw how close it was I was like, ‘If I can sink this then I just need to sail this ship home,’” Hammond said.
Five holes later, Hammond capped off a third round 72 with a par on 18 to win her first amateur championship by four strokes, finishing with a 3-over-par 219. Her closest competitor was Pat Brogden, who scored a 7-over-par 223.
“It’s incredible,” Hammond said. “This is the state that I love and the game that I love, so to be able to win this tournament it just means everything. I love this game so much and I have always wanted to win this one.”
It wasn’t an easy win for Hammond, who finished Tuesday’s round with the tournament lead before scoring a 77 on Wednesday.
“Today was just one shot at a time, make this one count and it was a whole lot better today,” she said. “I was just trying to stay in the moment and keep focused because I think [Wednesday] I got a little bit ahead of myself.”
Hammond attributed the group she was playing with for keeping her head in the round.
“It kind of gives you an interesting sense of where you are in the tournament,” she said. “It’s definitely cool because you get to see how the best players in the tournament are playing to have a gauge for how your playing.”
Wednesday’s leader, Mallory Hetzel, struggled on the back nine and fell back to third place, one stroke behind Brogden on the final leaderboard.
Though Brogden was second place overall, she won the senior division championship and yelled “AARP” as she received her trophies at a post-round lunch.
“I really don’t feel like Mallory or I lost it. Hayley just took it,” Brogden said. “That’s what you want in a championship. You don’t want somebody to lose it, you want somebody to win it, and you hope all the way through it that everybody’s playing the best they can play and at the end of the day you can say I won it.”
Brogden, who scored a 5-over-par 77 on the day, led the tournament for several holes on the front nine, but was unable to hold onto the overall lead.
“There was too much golf left,” Brogden said. “These are top quality players and they can come back in a minute’s notice, just like Hayley did. I mean, she made every putt she stood over today.”
It was the second tournament in a row that Brogden has won the senior division title. She beat Patty Moore, the closest other senior, by five strokes.
“It feels good,” she said. “I know I’m trending in the right direction, but I hope to do even better in the next tournament.”
In the junior division, 17-year-old Annie Collom posted a final round 73 to take home the junior title by 14 strokes over Carley Cox.
“It’s very special,” Collum said. “This tournament was very fun to play in and I really enjoyed playing with all the amateur members that weren’t juniors.”
For Collum, who will be entering her senior year of high school this fall, the experience is one she is hoping will take her one step closer to her goal of playing golf at the next level in college.
“If definitely builds my confidence to play with so many college players and actually compete well with them,” she said. “I learned not to get too frustrated with one bad shot or a couple bad shots and stay consistent with my round.”
Clate Aydlette took home the super senior title, with a two stroke lead on runner up Cynthia Curry.
12-year-old Rachel Kuehn posted a 77 for the second day in a row, winning her flight from the state tees.