Carolina Hart built an early lead and then had to hold off best friend Sue Cohn to capture the Palm Beach County Women’s Amateur Championship recently at the PGA National’s Fazio Course in Palm Beach Gardens.
Hart, 58, won the overall championship with a 75-75-150 as she withstood the late-charging Cohn, also 58, who was runner-up at 75-77-152. Cohn, 58, was awarded the Senior Flight title.
A total of 104 amateur women from Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Juno Beach took part in the tournament.
Cohn hadn’t lost in the PBCWA since 2006. She won 12 straight championships from 2007 to 2018 and 15 of the last 19. Cohn didn’t play in 2019 as she was qualifying to play in the United States Golf Association Senior Women’s Open and there was no tournament last year due to COVID-19.
“This was a significant win for me,” Hart said, who led by four with four holes to play and saw that lead dwindle to one heading into the 18th hole following a double bogey on the 17th hole. “It was difficult because I know how good Sue is. I play with her more than I play with anybody. I kind of had some hiccups. I think the golf Gods were on my side.”
“After 17, my wheels were falling off, and I was feeling the pressure,” Hart said. “I wasn’t keeping track and didn’t look at (the) Golf Genie (app). After the double, I actually thought I was tied with Sue.”
Her approach shot on the 18th hole was the deciding factor in winning the title. Hart hit her drive 217 yards to 136 out, but skulled her approach leaving a 46-yard shot from off the green. She knocked it to within a foot and Cohn needed to hole out her approach to tie and wound up with a bogey to fall by two shots.
“That chip shot was probably one of the best shots I ever hit,” Hart said. “To have my name on a trophy with Sue and Taffy Brower is really special. I am honored to be mentioned with them.”
Cohn and Hart have known each other for 25 years and play golf together at least once a week. Hart said she had beaten Cohn once before when she won the club championship at Bear Lakes Country Club a decade ago. She also edged her for medalist honors in an FSGA event.
“When we play,” said Hart, who was tied with Cohn after posting 75s on the first day of the tournament. “I very seldom beat her…hardly ever. I can probably put it on one hand. In my book, she is a superior golfer to me. She is like the Rock of Gibraltar.”
Cohn said she would have preferred to win but added she was happy for her friend.
“You can’t win everything and you can’t win all of the time,” Cohn said. “I wasn’t sharp and she was playing great. Oh my God, it is a huge win for her. She works hard and it’s great.
“I just didn’t play well, and I could have played better,” she said. “I lost to great golf. [Carolina] played amazingly. She might not have played well, but she scored well and got it up and down when she needed to. When she had a birdie opportunity, she took advantage of it and that’s what wins tournaments…I am glad that I made it a little bit of a tournament the last couple of holes, but if you lose to good golf and you lose to your best friend, it doesn’t get any better than that. She is an amazing person and a wonderful friend. I am very fortunate.”
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Tournament chairwoman Pat Hughes-Gelardi said she was happy to get back on the course after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19. She also stepped in as chairwoman of the event after Meredith Wolfe and Barbara Magee stepped down after serving as tournament chairwomen for the past 17 years. The tournament was also shortened this year from a three-day event to a two-day event.
“It’s really difficult to get a golf course, especially a champion-style golf course such as PGA to host an event for three days,” Hughes-Gelardi said. “It’s also to have women available for three straight days that also got a little difficult.
“I believe the last time we hosted the event (in 2019), we only had 80 players and we were at full capacity at 104 this year,” she said. “We couldn’t let a tournament of this magnitude go by the wayside.
Hughes-Gelardi, along with Taffy Brower, Carolina Hart, Karen Waltz, and a few other people created a committee and Elizabeth Brumback served as tournament director.
Joann Ferrieri (79-77-156) was third overall followed by Stacy Politziner (84-75-159) and Ivy Steinberg (78-85-163) was fifth.
Taffy Brower was the Super Senior Champion (70-79 age division) after shooting 81-83-164, while Tinker Sanger was the Super Duper Champion (age 80-plus) and shot her age 82 on the first day and followed up with an 83 on the second for a 165 total.