Saturday, July 30, 2005

Cramp Wins NJ Amateur

Kelly Cramp, the two-time All-American and four-time Centennial Conference Player of the Year, added another trophy to her mantle Friday by winning the New Jersey State Amateur women's golf championship. Read more from today's Newark Star-Ledger.

"It took 37 holes and an edge in experience to push Kelly Cramp over the top in a rugged title match yesterday against 14-year-old Marina Alex in the 80th New Jersey State Women's Golf Committee Amateur Championship at the Rumson Country Club.

Cramp, who had won the Amateur in 2003 and had been conditioned for the pressures of match- play as a four-time Centennial Conference champion at McDaniel College in Maryland, nailed down her second title with a routine par, against her opponent's bogey from the sand, on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff in the double- round final.

It was the last major amateur tournament for the 22-year-old Cramp, who is now setting her compass for the LPGA Tour, starting with the Hooters pro circuit in Florida in a couple of weeks.

"This feels awesome," said Cramp, who lost in the second round of the five-day tournament last year. "This is what I've been waiting for after what happened to me last year. I was happy to just get back to the final and repeat as champion."

In doing so, she halted Alex's bid to supplant 2002 titlist Sukjin Wuesthoff of Toms River as the youngest Amateur champion. Wuesthoff, now a Futures Tour pro, was 15 when she prevailed. Alex will turn 15 on Tuesday.

"I'm disappointed," said Alex, a 2005 Star-Ledger All-State golfer as a sophomore at Wayne Hills High School. "I didn't care about being the youngest ever. I just wanted to win."

Cramp erased a 2-down deficit with birdies on the 33rd and 34th holes and halved the last two with pars to force sudden death. On the 341-yard first extra hole, Alex hit her approach from the left rough into the front bunker, while Cramp lofted hers to the fringe, 35 feet from the pin.

Alex's attempt to match Cramp's two-putt par failed when she missed a 15-footer after blasting from the bunker.

"I had been in that spot on the fringe all day," Cramp said. "I knew the line for the putt and I just had to trust my speed. I've been in a match-play situation like that before. So, even being 3 down after the first 18 holes, I had to stay committed to my game."

Alex, who plans to play in four American Junior Golf Association tournaments next month, took a 4-up lead through the first seven holes, capitalizing on Cramp's five bogeys over the stretch. Cramp narrowed it to 3 down by winning the 18th with a par and made further inroads after lunch, winning the 20th with a birdie and the 21st with a par.

Alex went back to 2 up with a birdie deuce at the 32nd, but Cramp pitched from 30 yards to within a foot to set up a birdie at the par-five 33rd and sank a 22-foot putt for another bird at the 34th to draw even.

Alex applied pressure with a 10-foot par putt at the 17th, but Cramp responded with a seven- footer. At the 36th, Alex two- putted from 35 feet and Cramp matched the par with two putts from 15 feet."

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