Ashley Sloup came up short at last year’s championship, but the experience gained during the event paid dividends on Wednesday playing in the final grouping at the 90th edition of Carolinas Women’s Amateur Championship held at The Reserve Club in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.
Starting with a one-shot lead over 2014 runner-up Bailey Cocca, Sloup’s final round 73 was enough to claim her first CGA championship with a three-stroke victory.
Sloup, a rising junior at Winthrop University, played The Reserve Club’s front nine at even par. Cocca, a recent Coastal Carolina graduate, made the turn one-under. A birdie on the tenth hole put Cocca in the lead.
“I was thinking, ‘This girl is playing good’,” said Sloup. “So I knew I was going to have to step it up on the back nine to win.”
Cocca’s power off the tee resulted in closer approach shots, but it was Sloup’s short game that won the championship. A mishit chip by Cocca on the par-3 12th led to a double bogey. Facing a two-shot deficit, Cocca then pulled her tee shot on the short par-4 16th in the woods, leading to another double bogey. Sloup made just two bogeys on her one-over round and avoided making a single double bogey over 54 holes of play.
“I tried to use good course management, fairways and greens,” said the 20-year-old Sloup. “I try to keep my head down and listen to it go in the hole, as my [Winthrop] coach Jodi Wendt says. This is definitely my biggest win. It feels really good.”
That head-down, focused mentality helped Sloup make 15 pars Wednesday en route to victory.
In thrilling fashion, Paul Simson of Raleigh came from six shots back to win his eighth North Carolina Senior Amateur Championship in the past 11 years at Porters Neck Country Club on Wednesday to close the 54-hole, three-day event.
Simson carded a final round 66 that included seven birdies and one lone bogey on the fourth hole. He finished the tournament with a three day total of 210, six-under par.
The victory was also Simson’s 30th CGA championship.
“This is only the third round in the 60s all year,” said Simson. “I played like I’m capable of playing.”
He finished the final round by birding four of his last six holes, including both 17 and 18. The leader after the first two rounds, Jim Grainger (Charlotte) carded a final round 73 to finish at five-under, one shot behind Simson. This was the fifth year in a row Grainger finished as runner up.