Parkland teen continues hot golf play with runner-up finish in amateur tournament

Parkland teenager Julia Matzat is showing no signs of letting up on the links.

After recently helping the Archbishop McCarthy High School girls’ golf team win the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) Class 2A state tournament in a playoff over rival American Heritage School in Plantation, the 16-year-old Matzat provided an encore by reaching the finals of the annual Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women’s Amateur Championship tournament at the Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale.

Matzat, who was named to the Sun Sentinel All-County first team, finished runner-up in just her second match play event. She lost to Sebring’s Kendall Griffin in the Championship Flight of the Amateur Division. There was also a Senior Division in the tournament.

“This [finish] gives me a lot of confidence and shows me that I can play with these people,” said Matzat, a junior. “Going into the tournament, I never thought I would make it to the final. I just focused on each match, each day. I really got mentally tough, and I showed it in this tournament.”

In her first year of competition at the Doherty last January, Matzat reached the quarterfinals, defeating Coral Springs’ Carly Ray Goldstein along the way.

Goldstein, a junior at Louisiana State University who was the top seed this year after tying for medalist honors with Nigeria’s Georgia Oboh, lost again to Matzat – this time in the second round. The first round is stroke play and moves to match play after that.

“Last year I was so nervous, and this year I was more confident with my game, especially since I beat [Goldstein] the year before,” Matzat said. “It was cool to do well against a college player.”

Matzat said she could have won this year’s Ione D. Jones/Doherty event had she played better in one aspect of her game.

“I missed some really easy putts in the final, otherwise we could have been even,” Matzat said. “I grinded so hard to make a comeback with Alexa Pano in the semifinal, and after that I was getting tired.”

Matzat trailed Lake Worth’s Alexa Pano in the semifinal before rallying late. She was 2 down with four holes to play and won the next three holes en route to a 1-up victory.

Goldstein, 20, was playing in the tournament for the eighth time. A member of the FHSAA state championship team in her senior year at Coral Glades High School, Goldstein has struggled to find her game recently but is working hard to improve.

“I think putting together a few good rounds [in the Jones/Doherty] will help my confidence at LSU,” said Goldstein, who has yet to play in a college match this season after cracking the lineup in both her freshman and sophomore years.

Oakland Park’s Meghan Stasi, the 2012 champion at this amateur event, lost in the quarterfinals to Toronto’s Selena Costabile.

“It was back and forth all day,” said the 37-year-old Stasi, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. “My game has been pretty good lately. I have hit a lot of great shots, but my misses are killing me.”

Coral Ridge’s director of golf, Scott Fox, said there were 88 golfers – 24 in the Amateur and 64 in the Senior divisions – participating in this year’s Ione D. Jones/Doherty event. The tournament has been held at Coral Ridge Country Club for the past 61 of its 84 years.

“The Senior division has been full the past five years,” Fox said. “The handicaps this year dropped by three shots, so the quality of golf was really good. I reached out to colleges and local high schools to try to get more of the younger players into the Amateur Championship.”

Kim Eaton, 56, of Mesa, Ariz., downed Lynne Cowan of Rocklin, Calif., to win the Championship Division of the Senior Flight for the second time. She also won that division in 2010.

The following are results from the other championship matches:

Amateur Division First Flight: Jamie Freedman (Miami Beach) d. Connie Isler (Annapolis, Md.)

Senior Division First Flight: Taffy Brower (Boynton Beach) d. Ivy Steinberg (Stouffville, Ontario)

Senior Division Second Flight: Denise Martorana (Sag Harbor, N.Y.) d. Lin Culver (Palm Coast, Fla.)

Senior Division Third Flight: Leslie Henry (Carrollton, Texas) d. Mechelle Brown (Boynton Beach)

Some of the past legends of the Jones/Doherty event include Patty Berg, who at age 18, in 1936, won her first of five titles. Others prominent winners were Babe Zaharias, Marlene Stewart Streit, Alice Dye, Carole Semple Thompson, Ashley Rose, Lexi Thompson, Natalie Gulbis and Charley Hull.

Gary Curreri can be reached at

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