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17-year-old Sophie Linder makes history at Women's Open


CROSSVILLE – Sophie Linder came to the Golf Capital of Tennessee Women’s Open looking to stay in competitive form ahead of her upcoming trip to the PGA Girls’ Junior Championship at Valhalla.


The 17-year-old from Carthage did way more than that.


Linder claimed the Women’s Open title in dominating fashion and made Tennessee Golf Association history in the process, becoming the first person ever to win both the Tennessee Women’s Open and Tennessee Junior Amateur in the same year.


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She finished with a three-day total of -7, 209 at Stonehenge Golf Club, five strokes ahead of Virginia Tech golfer and 2021 Tennessee Women’s Amateur champion Alyssa Montgomery.


Just last month, Linder rallied from a six-stroke deficit on the final day to win the Tennessee Junior Amateur at Memphis Country Club.


“It was a really solid week overall,” said Linder.  “I came back from the U.S. Girls’ Junior last week and thought I would just take this week off, because of I have two tournaments after this at the PGA Junior and the U.S. Amateur.  Then I thought, ‘Well, this might be good practice in some challenging conditions.”


“I came with the mindset to practice, and I guess that mindset worked! I enjoy coming to Crossville. Everyone here is so supportive and they do a great job. I’m honored to win this championship.”


Linder set the record for the youngest champion of the Tennessee Women’s Open.  She also tied the mark for the largest winning margin at five strokes.


“I came to play my game,” Linder noted.  “This is always a good field with great amateurs and professionals.  I wasn’t expecting to play this well this week, but thankfully I found some things that worked.”


Linder was the only player to shoot three rounds under par on the tough Stonehenge layout. 


Montgomery entered the final round one stroke ahead of Linder at -6 but fell off the pace with a closing 76.


Linder took the lead with a birdie on 13 in the final round, and Montgomery suffered double bogeys on 14 and 17.


“I just made sure to hit fairways,” Linder said of her performance.  “The rough is not easy out here and can make it more difficult.  Hitting fairways and greens was key this week.”


Linder and Montgomery were the only ones to finish in red figures for the tournament.  2019 champion Ashli Bunch, former University of Kentucky golfer Sarah Shipley and University of Georgia’s Caroline Craig tied for third place at 2-over, 218.


Bunch and Shipley were the low professionals in the tournament and each received a check for $3,800.


The Senior Division was contested over two rounds and amateur Kelly Morris of Franklin defeated professional Jeannette Kohlhass of North Charleston, S.C. on the eighth playoff hole.


The two were tied after two rounds of regulation at 11-over, 155 and then matched pars for seven straight extra holes.


It was a record-breaking effort for Morris as well as she set new state marks for longest span between wins (32 years) and longest span between first and last wins (40 years).  She won the Tennessee Junior Amateur in 1981 and the Tennessee Women’s Amateur in 1987.