Carrying Place, ON (GOLF ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO) – Waterford resident Olivia Richards outlasted the field in her first-ever match play competition to earn the Ontario Junior Girls’ Match Play Championship title on Wednesday, June 18 at Barcovan Golf Club in Carrying Place, Ontario.
Richards, a five-time junior girls champion at Norfolk Golf and Country Club, earned top-seeding in the competition by winning Monday’s stroke play qualifying round. She then worked her way through three rounds of match play to earn a berth in the finals against Orangeville resident and recent 2011 Greens & Dreams champion Stephanie Tucker.
“This was my first time playing in a match play tournament so it was pretty intense, and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” said Richards. “36 holes is a lot of golf to play each day, and my last matches went to the last hole or second last hole so it was a long week.”
The 18-year-old rolled over Toronto resident Sasha Linauskas with a commanding 7&6 victory in the first round, before sending Grace Chung of Richmond Hill home on the 14th hole with a 5 hole advantage in the quarter-finals. Collingwood’s Sophie Kitchen pushed Richards all the way to the 17th hole in the semi-finals before Richards ended Kitchen’s run with a 2up victory, stamping her ticket to the finals.
“I just tried to focus on my own score and not worry about what anyone was doing,” said Richards, explaining her strategy. “I guess it was staying out of trouble mostly, because there are a lot of places on this course where you can get in trouble and other people can just knock it on the green and you’re done for.”
On the other side of the match play tree, Tucker defeated Horning Mills resident Kaitlyn Stoddart 5&4 to advance to the quarter finals where she took down Burlington ’s Lorelle Weavers with a 3&1 victory. Semi-final action saw Tucker, a member at Brampton Golf Club, top Kennedy Bodfield of St. Catharines to square off against Richards in the final match.
Despite the pressure of her first match-play final, Richards managed to stay collected as she teed up her final round.
“I really tried not to make a big mistake and lose it, or blow up and lose my head – I just wanted to stay focused and not lose my cool,” said Richards.