Notebook: Kuehn’s Putt is the Difference-Maker


Brenda Corrie Kuehn, here on the 11th hole, emerged as the winner in a first-round match against Judith Kyrinis, of Canada. (USGA/Chris Keane)
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
October 7, 2013

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – It has been 14 years since Brenda Corrie Kuehn last played in a national championship at her home club, and this time around is already a big improvement.

“I played in the 1999 U.S. Women’s Amateur,” said Kuehn. “And I gotta tell you, I had the same butterflies as now. The only difference is that I was hitting the ball really badly going into that one, which made them even worse.”

Kuehn missed out on match play in 1999 in a playoff for the final spots. Her 2013 experience already includes qualifying as the No. 26 seed, and winning her first-round match with Judith Kyrinis of Canada, 1 up, on Monday.

“This time I’m hitting the ball better than ’99,” she said. “It’s fun when you’re playing well, and you have the support from your friends and the staff of the club, and my children have been here. Well, my son was here [in ‘99], but he was 3 then.”

Kuehn survived a back-and-forth match with Kyrinis, making the decisive par-saving putt from 16 feet on the 418-yard, par-4 17th, after Kyrinis missed from a similar distance.

“Her putt on 17 was like a birdie,” said Kyrinis, who was playing in her fifth Women’s Mid-Am. “It’s a tough hole to get to. This is probably the most challenging course I’ve ever played, and today it played a lot longer with the dampness and the swirling winds.”

Kyrinis reached the semifinals of the championship in 2000, where she lost to Ellen Port, who captured the third of her four titles that year. She joked about Kuehn’s home-course advantage.

“She’s a fine player – of course, I had the whole club going against me, but that’s OK,” said Kyrinis. “She’s got the opposite pressure – being the person at home puts a lot of pressure on you.”

“The match really could have gone either way,” said Kuehn, who has played for the USA in two Curtis Cups and two Women’s World Amateur Team Championships. “It was a matter of me making one more putt than she did.”

No. 17 played as the third-hardest hole during stroke play, its scoring average more than a stroke above its par (5.05). “I have a hard time reaching that hole,” said Kuehn, who drove into the rough and was well short of the green in two. “I had 90 yards in, and I put it 15 to 18 feet, and happened to make the putt. I made and she missed and that was it.”

Hardy’s Ace Turns Match

Marilyn Hardy of Houston has made several holes-in-one in competition, but perhaps none more key to a victory than on Monday in the Round of 64.

Hardy trailed Jennifer Lochhead, of Canada, by one hole when they arrived at the tee of the 156-yard ninth hole. Lochhead, who had birdied the seventh hole to assume the lead, hit first and knocked her shot to within 4 feet of the hole.

“It was the toughest possible pin on that hole,” said Laneal Vaughn, an 18-year member of Biltmore Forest who was caddieing for Hardy. “[Lochhead] hit an excellent shot, and Marilyn put it in the hole to top her. There was a nice crowd watching us come through the turn, with us being the first group.”

Hardy’s 13th ace and sixth in competition drew her even, and when she made back-to-back winning pars on Nos. 10 and 11, she suddenly had a 2-up advantage. She traded wins with Lochhead on Nos. 13 and 15 before closing out the 2-and-1 victory.

For Hardy, who has played in nearly 20 Women’s Mid-Amateurs, it was her second hole-in-one in Women’s Mid-Am competition, as she aced the 13th hole at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C., in 2003 during stroke-play qualifying.

“It kind of took the wind out of her sails,” said Hardy. “I hit it right where my caddie told me to – usually you don’t hit it where they tell you. It broke right into the hole.

“The big thing was, I had to calm myself down, but luckily I was at the turn and I could take a few minutes. I was ready to go dunk a basketball after that. I had to really start focusing again on the task at hand and put that behind me, because I had some hard holes coming up.”

Hardy made the semifinal round in her first Women’s Mid-Am, losing to eventual champion Cindy Scholefield in 1987. She reached the quarterfinals in the Senior Women’s Amateur two weeks ago, losing to eventual winner Ellen Port.

Next up is medalist Julia Potter, at 8:15 Tuesday.

Dennis’ Run Ends on No. 18

Stacy Dennis, a two-time Texas Women’s Amateur champion, had an eventful three days in the Women’s Mid-Am, making her first career ace in Saturday qualifying, seemingly shooting her way out of it on Sunday, then making the match-play field in a 6-for-1 playoff on Monday morning.

Dennis nearly made the most of the opportunity, seizing a 3-up lead on medalist Julia Potter before Potter stormed back for a 2-up victory. Potter took the lead by reeling off victories on holes 13-16, three of them with birdies, and one when Dennis missed a short par-saving putt on No. 15.

“I just made a bad putt, but she played beautifully,” said Dennis, who also left a 12-foot, par-saving putt that would have won No. 17 just short. “I played well today but not quite well enough, and that’s how it goes. I don’t like it, it doesn’t feel good, but I can certainly live with the result. ”

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

 

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