DEAL, N.J. – Judith Kyrinis, 50, of Canada, and Joan Higgins, 58, of Glendora, Calif., each won two matches Wednesday to advance to the final of the 2014 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, held at the 6,109-yard, par-73 Hollywood Golf Club.
Kyrinis, who is playing in her first Senior Women’s Amateur, dispatched two past champions in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. She posted a 2-and-1 victory over Terri Frohnmayer, the 2011 winner, in the afternoon and a registered a 3-and-2 triumph over 2010 champion Mina Hardin earlier in the day.
It’s awesome, said Kyrinis, who previously advanced to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur semifinals in 2000. It’s been awhile for me to get back here and play some good golf. I didn’t want to go out in the semifinals again because nobody remembers that.
Higgins, who claimed the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur title in 2008, defeated reigning Canadian Women’s Senior Amateur champion Helene Chartrand, 1 up, in the morning and dispatched Kareen Markle, 3 and 2, in the semifinals.
I need to play pretty well, because I know in the finals I am playing someone who has played five great rounds, too, said Higgins, who had not advanced past the quarterfinals in the championship prior to this year. Hopefully, tomorrow I can start playing the same way I ended today.
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday, Sept. 18, starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The champion receives a gold medal and custody of the Senior Women’s Amateur Championship Trophy for one year.
Frohnmayer, 58, of Salem, Ore., went ahead in the middle portion of her match with Kyrinis. She squared the match on the ninth hole with a two-putt par from 45 feet and then got up and down from the back fringe to win the par-5 10th.
Kyrinis, the No. 3 seed in the match-play bracket, was in more trouble on No. 11 when her tee shot found the left fairway bunker. She pitched sideways safely to the short grass and hit her third shot to within 14 feet below the hole. Kyrinis then found her touch on the green by holing the par putt to halve the hole.
It was a tremendous 4, said Kyrinis, who had missed short- to medium-range putts on the previous three holes. My mojo wasn’t coming, I wasn’t feeling real good. But that pumped me up there.
Kyrinis, a registered nurse at a Toronto hospital who is attempting to become the first Canadian to capture this championship since Marlene Stewart Streit in 2003, used that momentum to win three consecutive holes and take a 2-up lead. She made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 12th, a 5½-foot par putt on No. 13 and a 5-footer for par to win No. 14 when Frohnmayer found the hazard in front of the green with her approach shot.
A little mental for sure, said Kyrinis about her missed putts in the middle of the round. I just wasn’t stroking it as well. I wasn’t seeing it well.
Higgins, who reached the quarterfinals in three of the past six Senior Women’s Amateurs, took advantage of her opponent’s miscue to turn around her semifinal. Markle chipped from behind the green on the eighth hole to within 2 feet but missed the par putt to lose her 1-up lead.
Higgins won the following two holes with par to go ahead. She extricated herself from the right greenside bunker at No. 9 to set up a 9-foot putt and proceeded to make an 8-footer for par at No. 10 with Markle in trouble following a poor approach shot.
She missed that little putt at No. 8 and it kind of turned the match around, said Higgins, who played collegiate tennis at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s. After that, I started to concentrate a little bit better. I started putting a better roll on the ball the last six or seven holes.
Markle, who knocked out the eighth and ninth seeds in reaching the semifinals, cut the deficit in half when she birdied No. 12. But Higgins answered by striking her approach shot to within 6 feet to set up a birdie on the 316-yard, par-4 13th and earned a conceded par at No. 14 to build a 3-up lead.
In the quarterfinals, Kyrinis leaped to a big lead against Hardin, 54, of Mexico. She made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 349-yard, par-4 third and won holes 7 and 8 with pars to grab a three-hole advantage.
Kyrinis later bogeyed No. 11 and No. 13 to give Hardin a glimmer of hope. But each time she responded with a birdie. She sank a 30-footer on the par-5 12th and struck a 78-yard wedge to within 2 feet at the par-4 14th.
Absolutely, she (Kyrinis) can win (the championship) if she plays like she did today, said Hardin, who was also the 2011 Senior Women’s Amateur runner-up. Her wedges were good, her driving was good. She’s a good player.
Meanwhile, Higgins came from behind to defeat Chartrand, 58, of Canada. Chartrand went ahead on the 446-yard, par-5 16th when she two-putted from 65 feet for a birdie. Higgins squared the match with a par on No. 17 after hitting her tee shot to within 15 feet. She won the match with a routine par on No. 18 after Chartrand’s 7-iron approach went over the green, leading to a bogey.
Frohnmayer advanced to the semifinals after recording a 2-and-1 win over Kim Eaton, 55, of Tempe, Ariz., in a rematch of their 2011 quarterfinal encounter. Frohnmayer, who dramatically won her Round-of-16 match on Tuesday by rolling in a 38-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th, captured the sixth and seventh holes with pars to take the lead for good.
Markle, 52, of Meridan, Idaho, won six of the last eight holes on the outward nine en route to a 7-and-6 victory over Susan West, 50, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. West, who defeated last year’s runner-up (Susan Cohn) and a past U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion (Martha Leach) to gain a quarterfinal berth, birdied the first hole, but then bogeyed five of the next seven holes.
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, for players 50 years and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Brian DePasquale is the USGA’s manager of championship communications. Email him at email@example.com.