Molly Smith birdied two of her first three holes Wednesday at U.S. Open local qualifying. The 18-year-old University of Central Florida commit drove her brown minivan, fondly known as “The Potato,” to LeBaron Hills Country Club in Lakeville, Massachusetts, and took on the men in an 18-hole qualifier.
“It’s been raining a lot here and the course was soft,” said Molly, “a day you could go pin-seeking.”
The high school senior would go on to shoot a 2-under 70 to miss the cut by a shot. Five players in the field at LeBaron advanced to U.S. Open final qualifying, with two players topping the board at 67. Smith lost out on securing one of two alternate positions in a playoff. On June 7, she’ll give U.S. Women’s Open qualifying a try.
Local qualifying is being conducted at 109 sites across the U.S. and Canada. The 123rd U.S. Open will be contested at The Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course, June 15-18.
Smith has competed against men in club championships and Massachusetts qualifiers for the state Amateur and Open. She doesn’t spend much time concerning herself with what others might think about a woman teeing it up in men’s events.
“There’s pretty clear criteria on what a golfer needs to do to play in the tournament,” she said of men’s U.S. Open qualifying.
Molly Smith, 18, missed out advancing through local qualifying for the men’s @usopengolf by a shot today. She heads to UCF this fall. pic.twitter.com/BcPXucz0iY
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) May 4, 2023
Molly, a former Massachusetts Junior Player of the Year, averages 275 yards off the tee with 107 mph swing speed.
“She just oozes confidence,” said UCF coach Emily Marron, “and I think that comes from growing up playing with the boys. She had to be confident.”
Later this month, Smith and her older sister Morgan, 19, who heads to Georgetown this fall, will team up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at The Home Course in DuPont, Washington. Maddie, 15, is the youngest Smith sister, and she plays too. Just last week Morgan and Molly became the first sister duo to compete in the Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship, taking a share of 68th out of 192 teams.
On Monday, she’ll try to qualify to compete against the men at the Massachusetts Open.
“If you spend three minutes with her,” said Marron of Smith’s infectious personality, “you’ll love her,”