Seeking her fifth title in six years, Kelli Murphy strives to continue her domination of the Sonic Columbia City Women’s Golf Championship this week at the Woodlands.
But, tournament chair Tudy Clark warned, she should expect to be challenged.
“We have a very strong field for the championship flight,” Clark said. “We have several new college players participating, as well as some high school players.”
The most decorated of the newcomers is Sydney Legacy, who played on Lexington High’s powerhouses and just completed her freshman year in college by leading Seminole State (Fla.) to the National Junior College Athletic Association national title. Legacy placed second in the individual competition in the national tournament in Arizona and owns a plus-2.7 handicap index.
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Murphy, who won the 54-hole event by 10 strokes a year ago at Spring Valley, also is coming off her freshman season in college. Playing for Auburn, she compiled her team’s third-best stroke average, had a best tournament finish of second in a field of 96 in Greensboro, N.C., and earned a berth on the SEC’s All-Freshman team. He handicap index is plus-3.4.
Another newcomer who is making a name for herself in the junior ranks is Parker Stalvey, who just finished the eighth grade at Blythewood Middle School. She advanced to the national finals in her age group in this year’s Drive, Chip and Putt competition at Augusta National Golf Club and has a 2.7 handicap index.
Cecilia Fournil also owns four city titles, the last one coming in 2006. She has played in multiple USGA championships, won the women’s state amateur and qualified for the 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Leigh Coulter, a member of Furman’s 1975 national championship team, qualified for match-play in the 2014 U.S. Senior Amateur.
“We’re looking for an exciting three days,” Clark said. “We have 66 women from six counties who will be competing. Players range from 14 years of age to the 80s with handicaps from plus-3.4 to 36. The players in the championship flight are an inspiration to those in the city and senior flights, with many in the senior flight having been past champions.”
▪ Marion Dantzler (Orangeburg) and Charles Raulerson (Fleming Island, Fla.) earned berths in the U.S. Senior Open in qualifying at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton. Dantzler led the field of 47 with a 2-under-par 70, and Raulerson posted a 71. Robert Meheran (Tampa, Fla.) secured the first alternate spot, edging Hugh Royer III (Myrtle Beach) on the fourth hole in a four-man playoff after the players tied a 72 in regulation. The U.S. Senior will be played at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif., on June 25-28.
▪ In addition to the Columbia City Women’s Championship, two high profile tournaments – the SCGA Junior Championship and the Palmetto Amateur – are on the state golf calendar this week.
At the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach beginning Tuesday, Jack Parrott (Columbia) attempts to become the first player to win the State Junior in consecutive years since Tommy Biershenk pulled off the double in 1990-91. Among the top challengers will be Christian Salzer (Sumter), who lost to Parrott in a playoff for the 2014 title; Jordan Warnock (Roebuck), third a year ago; and Logan Sowell Kershaw), who qualified for the 2014 U.S. Junior Championship.
The top eight players will qualify for the South Carolina-Georgia team matches set for Berkeley Hall in July. Former champions include Charlie Rymer, Lucas Glover, Matt Hendrix and Mark Anderson.
At Palmetto GC in Aiken starting Wednesday, the Palmetto Amateur opens the summer’s national amateur circuit, and the field includes Todd White (Spartanburg), a member of the 2013 U.S. Walker Cup team, and USC star Matt NeSmith (North Augusta), who won the SEC individual title this year. The 72-hole event runs through Saturday.