Chen Fires 6-under-67; N.J. Tied For Lead In USGA State Team Championship

Chen Fires 6-under-67; N.J. Tied For Lead In USGA State Team Championship

Alice Chen of Neshanic Valley fired a 6-under-par 67 to take over the individual lead and pace New Jersey to a tie for first place place with Florida heading into Thursday's final round of the 54-hole 10th USGA State Team Championships at the NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.

Chen's 67, combined with her first-round 1-under-par 72, gave her a 139 total and a five-shot lead over Arizona's Hannah O'Sullivan among 155 individuals. Thanks to Chen's effort and a 79 posted by Tara Fleming of New Jersey National, moved New Jersey from seventh to a tie for first place Florida as both teams are tied with 297 strokes. Arizona is third with 302 strokes.

New Jersey tees off for the final round beginning at 9:06 a.m. on Thursday.


In Tuesday's opening round, Cindy Ha's 79 combined with Chen's 72 to give New Jersey third place. The top two scores of the three team competitors are counted each day.

New Jersey, which finished seventh in 2011 when Georgia won, is seeking its first U.S. State Team championship.

"The focus tomorrow is to continue to hit fairways and greens and to keep smiling! Alice's play has been phenomenal and we are all so glad that each of us has been able to contribute," Tara Fleming, team captain, said Wednesday night.
"The camaraderie among the team has been fantastic. We got together the weekend before to play at NJ National. My head pro, Sean Toohey, graciously hosted us so we could get to know each other better. It has definitely paid off!"


Alice Chen of Neshanic Valley, a high school senior who this summer became the first golfer to win the NJSGA Women’s Amateur, Junior Girls and state high school championship in the same season, is joined by Cindy Ha of Valley Brook and Tara Fleming of New Jersey National as members of the New Jersey State Team.

The trio will compete in the 10th USGA Women’s State Team Championship, to be held on the South Course at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, beginning Tuesday, September 17, through Thursday, September 19.

Chen, who won a second straight Junior title in June, also became only the second player to win both the Junior and Women’s Amateur in the same summer, matching Laura D’Alessandro of Tom River who did it in 1984.

Chen, a senior at Montgomery High School who lives in Princeton, was medalist for the event on Monday, July 29, when she carded a 2-over-par 74. She has committed to play at Furman University beginning next fall.

"We played a practice round today (Monday), and we've bonded well. The name of the game is to chip and putt well on this course. It's definitelty a course where you have to place the ball," Chen said. "The greens are sloping and undulating and will be a challenge. You need to well rounded to score well on this course."

Ha, a resident of Demarest, is appearing on the New Jersey State Team for a second straight time. In 2011, she teamed with Scotland Preston of Echo Lake and Kuriko Tsukiyama of Overpeck in leading New Jersey to very respectable seventh place among the 51 squads. Georgia won in 2011.

Fleming, who lives in Jersey City and is a former LPGA Tour player , was second in qualifying for the State Women’s Amateur and advanced to the match-play semifinals before losing to finalist Alexandra Hershberger of Neshanic Valley. Fleming is the captain of the three-person New Jersey squad and recently qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Ha was third in qualifying for the same event and lost in the Round of 16 to Hershberger, who lost in the Amateur final to Chen, 6 and 4.

New Jersey is paired with Minnesota and South Carolina. On Tuesday, Fleming tees off at 1:02 p.m., followed by Chen at 1:11 p.m. and Ha at 1:20 p.m.

"We're all very confident in each other. We're enjoying ourselves. We came out here Saturday and we have a good vibe going which should help us perform well," Chen added. "It was a goal all year for me to represent New Jersey. It's such an honor. I'm excited to be here. It's not often you get to represent your state. We're all excited for what's in store for us."

All 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico may enter teams of three players. Eighteen holes of stroke play are scheduled for September 17-19, with the two lowest of the three individual scores counting as the team’s score for each day’s round. The team with the lowest aggregate score through 54 holes will win the title.

The Men’s and Women’s Championships were held the same year through 2009, but since 2010, the women’s competition has been held in odd-numbered years.

The competition, as well as the Men’s State Team Championship, grew out of the United States Golf Association’s centennial anniversary in 1995. USGA officials believed that a new championship, one in which each state could be represented by amateur, non-college golfers, was an appropriate way to cap the USGA’s year-long birthday celebration. The competition proved to be such a success that the Association decided to continue conducting the championship biennially.

The format was fashioned after the biennial World Amateur Team Championship, which involves three-person teams in a 3-count-2 stroke-play format. State associations were given a variety of options in which to select its team members.

In 2009, the USGA decided to hold the Men’s State Team and Women’s State Team competitions at separate sites, and beginning in 2010, the schedule was changed to have the competitions alternate years, with the Men’s State Team Championship conducted in even years and the Women’s State Team in odd years.

Opened in 1954, NCR Country Club was created by Stanley Allyn during his tenure as president of National Cash Register (NCR) as a world-class recreational facility for NCR employees. The club has previously hosted the 1986 U.S. Women’s Open, the 1998 U.S. Mid-Amateur and the 2005 U.S. Senior Open.

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