COLUMBIA — When the tee times were made for the first and second rounds of the Missouri Women's Golf Association Amateur Championship, Alisha Matthews and Chelsea Schriewer were the first group to tee off. On the course, they set the pace for the other golfers, but on the scoreboard they have lapped their competition after two rounds at The Club at Old Hawthorne.
The Club at Old Hawthorne's greens are huge undulating playing fields that make routine putts anything but easy and long putts nearly impossible. But Matthews is making putting at Old Hawthorne look easy, even from long distances. Schriewer is using the length on her shots to easily reach those greens, taking advantage of her knowledge of the course and its relatively short length. Schriewer played the course frequently as a member of the MU women's golf team, which uses The Club at Old Hawthorne as its home course.
T1. Alisha Matthews - St. Louis - 72-70--142 (-2)
T1. Chelsea Schriewer - St. Charles - 71-71--142 (-2)
T3. Katrina Choate - Fenton - 76-73--148 (+5)
T3. Ellen Port - St. Louis - 76-73--149 (+5)
T5. Carolyn Schorgl - Leawood, KS - 82-71--153 (+9)
T5. Mindy Bullard-Coyle - Columbia - 80-73--153 (+9)
7. Naomi Starr - Columbia - 80-74--154 (+10)
T8. Kelsey Meyer - Chesterfield - 75-81--156 (+12)
T8. Morgan Lamberson - Marshall - 78-78--156 (+12)
10. Lacy Shelton - Overland Park, KS - 82-75--157 (+13)
The contrasting successes have worked equally thus far, and Matthews and Schriewer are both 2-under-par heading into the final round of the tournament on Thursday. Matthews and Schriewer are currently 7 shots better than their nearest competitors, Ellen Port of St. Louis, and Katrina Choate of Fenton.
The final threesome on Thursday, reserved for the top three scorers, was initially scheduled to include the six-time champion Port. The MWGA's tie-breaking procedure is based off of time of round, and when the MWGA double checked the scorecards, it was found that Choate finished sooner than Port, putting her in the final group.
Schriewer was initially excited to play with Port.
"Everyone likes trumping the big dog," Schriewer said.
For Matthews, 19, Schriewer, the defending champion of the tournament, is the big dog.
Matthews has only played the course a handful of times, shooting an 81 in her first practice round, but finding her best game for the first two rounds. Matthews said that she has used Schriewer's knowledge of the course to her advantage.
"I've followed Chelsea on a few shots, because she knows the course better," Matthews said. "But I just need to keep staying in my own head, and we'll see what happens."
On Wednesday, Matthews' putting gave her a 4-stroke advantage through 12 holes in Wednesday's round, but the magic faded as Matthews missed birdie putts on the 16th and 17th holes.
Schriewer took advantage of the opportunity to gain ground, scoring birdies on four of the last five holes, and only needing one putt per hole to close the gap between her and Matthews. Schriewer's rally drew plenty of cheers from a dozen of her family members and friends, who followed Schriewer during her round.
Schriewer said Tuesday that she could shoot a 5-under-par 67 on the course. After two consecutive scores of 71, Schriewer still says she thinks breaking 70 is possible.
"Today I tried to remain patient and make putts," Schriewer said. "I'm not far off with it when I'm getting really good looks at birdie almost every hole. When the putts start falling...I'll be where I want to be."
Matthews, a St. Louis native who plays golf at the University of Southern Illinois, says that she can win the tournament by hitting her iron shots more solidly and maintaining her hot putting.
"I was hitting a lot of my iron shots thin today, but I hit them straight," Matthews said. "I didn't hit many of them solid today, and many didn't have the right distance."
Matthews' putting kept her in contention, despite her inconsistent iron play. She says that a new conservative approach has made the difference for her.
"When I used to miss, I would miss my putts five feet past the hole," Matthews said. "Now I'm just trying to ease it up there, and not kill it. If it drops it drops. And even when I think miss them, they are close enough that sometimes they go."
Schriewer said that Matthews' putting is the major difference between the two golfers.
"She's making the putts and I'm not," Schriewer said. "I'm going to have to work a little harder."
Schriewer and Matthews both said they aren't deliberately going to focus on their competition on Thursday.
"I try to play within myself, unless I need to know what to do on a finishing hole," Schriewer said.
While Matthews said she doesn't want to focus on Schriewer's performance Thursday, she knows she won't be able to block out her playing partner for the entire round.
"I know my head, and not being in contention for a while, I'll need to keep telling myself to stay within my own mind." Matthews said.
Matthews, Schriewer and Choate's final group is scheduled to tee off at 12:50 p.m. on Thursday. Admission to the tournament is free.