Lake Worth’s Alexa Pano said she played well enough to win the 89th Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship at the Coral Ridge Country Club, however Jupiter’s Brooke Oberparleiter played a little bit better to dethrone the two-time defending champion.
Oberparleiter, 16, was 4-under par, a career-best, on the front nine and held a 1-up advantage over Pano, 17, who had three birdies on the front nine. Although the match see-sawed, Oberparleiter never relinquished her lead and held on for a 2-up win.
“Today was pretty frustrating,” said Lake Worth’s Pano, who had won three of the past four years and has been in the championship match five times in a row.
“I hit 16 greens, made three birdies and no bogeys,” Pano lamented. “I probably played well enough, but I didn’t make enough putts to win. They weren’t dropping and that was unusual because putting is usually one of my biggest strengths. I had opportunities on almost every hole to make birdies and I just wasn’t making them.”
Meanwhile, Oberparleiter peaked.
“Today I brought my best game,” Oberparleiter said. “I never had more than four birdies in a whole round, let alone on one nine. My putter definitely kept me in it. Winning this is huge.”
Oberparleiter had birdies on Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 9 to make the turn at 1-up. Pano birdied Nos. 2, 5 and 7. Oberparleiter won 14 with a birdie from 12 feet out to go 2-up, before Pano sliced the lead in half with a great recovery with three holes left.
Pano nearly hit the ball in the water on the Par-3 16th for a second consecutive day and chipped to 6 feet. Oberparleiter missed a 35-foot downhill putt and two-putted, while Pano made par.
The pair halved 17, but Oberparleiter threatened, hitting the pin on 30-foot putt, but the ball stayed out.
Pano’s 30-foot birdie putt on 18 stayed out and she conceded a 10-footer that would have gone for birdie for Oberparleiter.
‘Today I brought my best game. I never had more than four birdies in a whole round, let alone on one nine.’Brooke Oberparleiter
“It is such an honor to win something like this,” Oberparleiter continued. “I never won anything this big and never thought I would be playing someone like Alexa. I definitely had to bring my best game to beat her today. This gives me a lot of confidence and shows me I can go under par.”
Pano, 17, intends to remain an amateur as she tackles the Symetra Tour in late February.
In the Senior division (50 and older), Kim Keyer-Scott of Estero topped Susan Curtin of Westwood, Mass., 4 and 3. Both were making their Doherty debuts.
“With a three-hole lead on the back, my attitude was she has to make putts, so I just wanted to hit the ball in the center of the green,” said Keyer-Scott, who qualified third. “I am a good lag putter … make her make putts and she didn’t. She hit a lot of good putts and hit a lot of edges.”
Curtin said she hadn’t played a competitive round in many weeks.
“There was 14 inches of snow back home and I was hitting range balls occasionally off a plastic mat at a driving range to get ready,” Curtin said. “I did not feel prepared at all, and I think in a weird way of having no expectations, it probably helped me, and I made it to the final day.”