Terri Frohnmayer, 55, of Salem, Ore., who is nicknamed Little Bit, was a giant-killer in defeating Mina Hardin, 51, of Fort Worth, Texas, and winning the 2011 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the 5,876-yard, par-72 Honors Course.
Consistently out-hit from the tee, Frohnmayer beat Hardin, the defending champion, 2 and 1. On Wednesday, although out-driven by as much as 70 yards, she also knocked off Lisa Schlesinger of Laytonsville, Md., and Kim Eaton of Greeley, Colo., in the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively.
"I’m certainly not a long-ball hitter like Mina is," said Frohnmayer, "but it’s not the drive. It’s how you arrive. I just played the holes like I played all week. Just stay in the middle and get it on the green in regulation and two-putt."
As the two players walked off the 17th green, where the match ended, Hardin told Frohnmayer, You played beautifully. It was a wonderful match. Enjoy it.
With overcast weather making the greens receptive to Frohnmayer’s hybrid wood shots, she was able to stop her approach shots to the green, very often near the hole.
But Frohnmayer had to come from behind to win her first national championship. Hardin got off to a good start and won the second and fourth holes to take a 2-up lead. Frohnmayer then won the fifth hole with a par and the sixth with a birdie to square the match.
On the 140-yard, par-3 eighth hole, Frohnmayer rammed in an 18-foot birdie putt to take the lead for the first time.
"That was a little bit unexpected when she made that long putt," Hardin said. "She just knocked it right in. She hit beautiful shots and she had it all going today. "
Frohnmayer hit her approach shot into a water hazard on No. 9 and Hardin won the hole with a birdie to square the match, but her hopes for a repeat were dashed when her opponent won three straight holes, beginning at the 11th.
Hardin hit her tee shots into water hazards on the 11th and 13th holes, making a bogey and a double-bogey to lose the holes. On the 315-yard, par-4 12th, Frohnmayer hit a pitching wedge from 108 yards to within 3 1/2 feet and made the birdie putt to win the hole.
At the end of the stretch of three holes, the 5’1, 105-pound Frohnmayer was 3 up. She lost the par-3 16th hole when she hit her tee shot into a water hazard, making a double bogey to Hardin’s birdie. At the 17th, now dormie 2, Frohnmayer made a routine par to halve the hole and win the match.
In a field of experienced competitors, Frohnmayer was playing in just her third national championship. She lost to Betsy King in the second round of the 1973 U.S. Girls’ Junior and was a member of the Rollins College team that played in the 1978 National Women’s Collegiate Championship.
After college she went to work in real estate and put away her golf clubs. She began playing again in 2003. After her mother died in 2007, Frohnmayer returned to competition because her mother had urged her to. She won the 2010 Pacific Northwest Golf Association’s Women’s Senior Championship but was little known outside of the Pacific Northwest.
"Life’s really short and I love being outdoors," Frohnmayer said. "It doesn’t get any better than being on a golf course."
Frohnmayer knew few players when she arrived at The Honors Course, but was befriended by volunteers. One couple, friends of Frohnmayer’s caddie, Bob Lawson, took her to dinner. The couple owns a fragrance company and concocted a scent of lavender and French vanilla for Frohnmayer. The fragrance is named "Victory."
"It smells really good," said Frohnmayer.
The USGA Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.
Match Play Results
Terri Frohnmayer, Salem, Ore. (157) def. Mina Hardin, Fort Worth, Texas (148), 2 and 1