Historical Women’s Amateur Golf Championship comes to Socorro

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The New Mexico Women’s State Amateur Golf Championship is one long steeped in tradition. Past champions include legendary golfers Nancy Lopez, Kristi Albers, Kathy Whitworth and Rosie Jones, and this year Socorro was granted the privilege of playing host to the historical event.

Now in around its 70th year, the tournament took place over four days at New Mexico Tech Golf Course this past week, and showcased some of the best women’s amateur golfers from around the area. Names such as Susan Daniels and Jan Turnbull graced the scorecards, and several local competitors took part, including Socorro golfing legend Georgia Seery.

The tournament was held in match play format, meaning that points are earned for besting an opponent on a hole-by-hole basis as opposed to scoring by the number of strokes taken over the course of one round, or 18 holes. The structure of match play allows golfers a bit of a break from the norm, much like the bulk of the tournament in general. The week’s festivities also included a 9-hole criers tournament, a putting competition and a cocktail party.

While the tournament itself might be in its seventh decade, when the fun and games were over it was a pair of players who are only in their second decade on earth that all but stole the show.

Socorro High School golfers Shania Berger and Kristen Cline were playing in the Championship Flight of the tournament, and both ran into a player they’re quite familiar with in Deming’s Darian Zachek. The three were part of a team that traveled to Hawaii to compete in the Girls’ Junior Americas Cup just two weeks ago.

Both Berger and Cline out-shot Zachek in Maui, but back here in Socorro that just wasn’t to be the case.

Zachek got the better of both members of the Lady Warrior duo en route to taking home this year’s amateur trophy. She outplayed Valerie Gomez in the first round and then outlasted Berger and Cline in the final two rounds, respectively, to become one of the youngest golfers to ever win the championship. The sophomore-to-be is only 15 years old, but her eight years of experience on the course is already showing. She came in second individually in this year’s 4A high school state championship, and her familiarity with Tech’s course allowed her to out-duel a couple of NMT course veterans in Cline and Berger.

“You have to place your shots on every hole,” she said.

“You can’t bust out a driver every time, and I’ve been working on that.”

This year marks the third Zachek has played in the women’s amateur championship.

In other competition, Socorro’s Joanna Debrine won Flight 1, beating Gail Roos, Marilyn Burrows and Katherine Bayless.

In Flight 2, Rosa Estrada outmatched Gloria Montoya, Turnbull and Nell Rose to take home the first place trophy, and Mary Parra beat out Mary Archuleta, Sharon Hall and Loretta Yingst to win Flight 3.

Seery, now 88-years-old, added another notch in her championship belt by taking first place in Flight 4.