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Dolan ready to tee it up in defense of state Women’s Amateur Championship

It’s a busy time for Catherine Dolan, who has a big golf to-do list.

First, she begins the defense of her Missouri Women’s Golf Association Amateur Championship this week at the Golf Club of Creekmoor in Raymore.

Next week, Dolan will play in the USGA’s Women’s Amateur Public Links at the Home Course in DuPont, Wash. The tournament begins Monday (July 14).

The Parkway West and Missouri State graduate is planning on going to “Q School” at the end of August in an attempt to turn professional.

But first, Dolan has the state tournament to play. It begins Tuesday (July 8). The tourney is a 54-hole stroke play championship on the 5,728 yard, par 72 layout.

“I have not ever played the Golf Club of Creekmore before but I have heard nothing but great things about it so I am very excited to see what challenges it throws my way,” Dolan said. “I’ve been playing really well. I feel really great about where my game is at. I’ve played in two tournaments thus far and placed first and second. Both of the fields were very strong which gives me a lot of confidence going into the Missouri Women’s Amateur.”

Last year, Dolan won her second state title at Old Kinderhook Golf Club in Camdenton. It was her second Missouri Women’s Amateur Championship with her first one coming in 2011. It came down to a photo finish with Dolan holding on to defeat Ellen Port by one stroke. After rounds of 73 and 71, Dolan struggled with a final-round score of 76 to finish with a 220 to finish 8-over on the par 71 course. Port wound up with a 221 on rounds of 71, 77 and 73.

“I remember it being a very close match between Ellen and myself,” Dolan said. “I wasn’t paired with her so I had no idea how close she was to me. I could tell she was playing well but I was trying to stay focused on my game and luckily I was able to pull it off.”

Dolan dethroned Port, who won the state title in 2012.

The duo just finished first and second in the recent 22nd annual Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association’s Women’s Amateur at Forest Hills Country Club.

Port, who has won six USGA events, outlasted defending champion Dolan over 36 holes, winning by five strokes with scores of 72-70 for a 2-under total.

“I played really well,” Dolan said about the event. “I had a few rough holes in the first round and left a few putts out there but over all I felt great about how I played. I played with Ellen in the final round and as I told my mom: ‘She was on fire the first 9 holes.’ There wasn’t a putt she could miss.

“It’s hard to beat someone who is under par and had a three-shot lead. All in all I walked away with nothing but positive thoughts from those two days.”

The two enjoy competing against each other.

“Oh, I love playing with her,” Dolan said about Port. “She is always challenging my game.”

Port returned the complement.

“She is great young player,” Port said. “Catherine won the state tournament last year. That’s a good tournament as it is a three-day event. I like to play with her.”

Port is an eight-time Women’s Amateur champion. The legendary player is also coming off a successful stint as the captain of the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team last month at St. Louis Country Club.

While one would expect a little rust to be an issue for Port because of her Curtis Cup duties, she showed no signs of it when she took the Metropolitan Women’s Amateur title.

However, the field consists of more than just Dolan and Port.

This year’s state tournament boasts a large group of contenders in one of the strongest Women’s Amateur fields in years. Top collegiate players as well as outstanding juniors are eager to test their games against the best.

Many past top 10 finishers also are returning such as Brooke Cusumano, Gianna Misenhelter, Kayla Eckelkamp, Alisha Matthews, and Christopher McCall. Just a couple of new faces this year include Missouri junior champions Logan Otter (2014), the John Burroughs senior from O’Fallon who recently committed to Michigan State; and Jordan Chael (2012), who now plays for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

“I feel like this field is one of the strongest fields we’ve had,” Dolan said. “There are a lot of college girls coming out of a strong spring season and, of course, Ellen will be there.”

Cusumano, a Westminster Christian Academy graduate, will be a sophomore at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this fall. She has been playing well and will be among the contenders this week.

Cusumano has won two tournaments this summer.

“My season has been good,” Cusumano said. “I shot a 79, 75, 68 to come back from a 10-shot deficit and won by a stoke over a good golfer from Eastern Kentucky. Then I just won but not playing my best at Glen Echo Country Club in an Accelerated Golf tourney. My game is coming along and I’m just trying to stay sharp.”

She is eager to compete this week in the state tournament.

“It’s a great field with many skilled Division I players,” Cusumano said. “It’s going to be a great week and take some great golf to win.”

However, Cusumano pointed out she is not looking too far ahead for the event.

“I am not thinking about winning; I am thinking about hitting the first fairway and taking it from there,” Cusumano said. “It will take some great golf. Last year was my first year in the state tournament and I finished 5-over and won the low junior in it.”

Still, anything can happen.

“I have not really felt a break through,” Cusumano said. “If my putter is hot and I am striking the ball the way I normally do, then I can really be playing some good championship golf.”

Dolan knows what it takes to play championship golf. She also knows you can’t look too far ahead in a three-day tournament.

“I have to play my game and play the course, taking one shot at a time, there is a lot of golf to be played,” Dolan said. “And, if all of that goes as planned, I should be able to hold onto the title.”

Some of the other local golfers in the event include Emily Goldenstein, a Parkway West graduate who will be a freshman at Memphis this fall; Hanule Sky Seo, who went to Parkway North and MICDS and now plays at Penn State; Alisha Matthews, a SIU Carbondale graduate; Kathy Glennon, of St. Albans; Gina Dellacamera, a St. Joseph’s Academy graduate who will be a senior at Indiana State; and Tina Jones, of Wildwood, who is the defending Women’s Senior champion.

The top players from all MWGA Championships are also selected to play for the Missouri in the Fore State Championship that will be held at the Shangri-La Resort in Grand Lake, Okla. The event will be held July 28-29.

The team is composed of six players 39 years and under and six players who are 40 years and older.  The Missouri team will meet Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas in the annual “Ryder Cup” style matches.

Kansas is the defending champion. Missouri has taken six Fore State titles since inception of the event in 1995.

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