The list of firsts for the Chattanooga Mocs women’s golf program is dwindling. Success has a habit of that, but rising junior Emily McLennan certainly found one, and she did it in a big way.
McLennan is the first Mocs women’s golfer to capture the Tennessee Women’s Amateur Championship. She closed out two-time champion Kendall Martindale 3&2 at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville Friday morning.
Martindale got off to a fast start winning two of the first four holes for a 2up advantage. McLennan answered with a birdie on five and par on six to square the match. She won her third hole in five with another birdie at nine for a 1up lead at the turn.
“I felt good that I was up at the turn,” McLennan said. “The back nine is very score-able and that’s where both of us had played really well there all week. I was just trying to make as few mistakes as possible because I knew she was going to bring it.”
Martindale, a rising senior at Vanderbilt, tied the match with a par on 13. McLennan dominated from there. She won 14 with a par. Both players reached the green in regulation, but a tough hole position coaxed a three-putt out of the Commodore.
McLennan kept the foot on the gas. She followed a solid drive with a perfect three-wood on the par five 15th. Her two-putt birdie made it a two-hole advantage. She dropped an eight-foot birdie strike on 16, while Martindale missed from about four feet to earn the win for the Aussie.
“It was good for me over those three holes because I was putting the pressure on her instead of the other way around,” McLennan added. “It’s really exciting especially beating such a great player. It really hasn’t hit me that I won an event of this caliber.
“It is a great win to takeaway and hopefully follow through to the next event.”
That next event starts Monday at the 114th Western Women’s Amateur in Lancaster, Pa. The event features 36 holes of stroke play qualifying 64 entries into match play for the title. This year’s field tackles Lancaster Country Club, site of the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, from June 23-28.
McLennan’s win is her second in 2014. She won the Southern Conference Championship in April by four shots, the largest margin of victory by a Moc among four titlists. Martindale was the 46th-ranked player in the Golfstat collegiate rankings and No. 113 in R&A World Amateur Rankings. She was an honorable mention All-American in 2013.
Emily birdied four of the five par 5’s today winning three of them. She had five birdies, nine pars, one bogey and a double in her 16 holes. She lost just three holes, one over the final 12.
In the last year, Chattanooga has procured a lot of TGA hardware. In addition to McLennan this year, former Moc Steven Fox is the reigning Tennessee Amateur champ, won in August 2013, and he captured the 2014 Tennessee Open.