July 7, 2020
Pebble Beach resident Marianne Towersey had no idea she had a chance to win the title. She was too busy just thinking about her own game.
Towersey shot a solid final round even-par 72 and defeated Itsuko Moridaira in a card-off playoff to claim her third NCGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship title Tuesday at Poppy Hills Golf Course.The two finished the 36-holes of regulation tied at 7-over 151. Towersey’s back-nine score of 1-under 35 was the difference maker. Moridaira, the first round leader, shot 40 on the back-nine.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a win, so this feels good,” said Towersey, who also won the event in 2007 and 2012. “I discovered something with my putting that helped me in the 11th hour.”
Through the front-nine of the finale, it was a duel between Moridaira and NCGA Hall of Famer Sally Krueger. Having started on the back-nine, Moridaira was in control but first began slipping when she bogeyed holes 11-14 (Nos. 2-5) in succession. Krueger pounced, taking the lead with a birdie on the 14th, but she’d give that right back with a bogey on No.15.
All the while, Towersey, who began the day three shots off the lead, kept plugging away. Birdies on the 13th and 16th holes, and a crucial par on the par-3 17th helped Towersey forge a tie with both Moridaira and Krueger heading to the 18th.
There, Krueger’s drive landed in the fairway bunker, eventually leading to a double-bogey and a third place finish. Both Moridaira and Towersey reached the green in regulation with each just narrowly missing their birdie tries, leaving them in a tie.
“I had no idea that we were tied going to the 18th. I didn’t want to look at the scores,” Towersey said. “I just wanted to play well and not choke. It’s icing on the cake to beat these great champions.”
Green Valley Country Club member Itsuko Moridaira is a day away from capturing her first NCGA scratch title.
Moridaira, who has won a number of NCGA net titles including one at the 2017 Mixed Team Spring Championship, opened this year’s NCGA Senior Women’s Amateur with a first round leading score of 4-over 76. Moridaira was solid on her front-nine, carding a 1-over 37. Overall, she’d have 14 pars.
A number of big names are still on Moridaira’s heels. Marianne Towersey, a two-time winner of the Senior title, is just three shots behind along with NCGA Hall of Famer Sally Krueger and 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Karen Garcia.
Record four-time winner and defending champion Lynne Cowan, also an NCGA Hall of Famer, is only six back after an 82.