U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Last-Minute Lynda Makes the Most of Championship Opportunity September 28, 2015 | NASHVILLE, TENN. By Lisa D. Mickey

After making the field as a late alternate, local resident Lynda Wimberly (right) is now all the way through to the Round of 32. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

Tennessean Lynda Wimberly knows a thing or two about starting fast. That’s what her morning entailed last Saturday when she received a pre-dawn telephone call from the USGA.

Wimberly was an alternate for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.  When Angela Collins withdrew late Friday night, on the eve of the championship, the USGA contacted Wimberly, who lives in nearby Brentwood, Tenn., and told her there was a spot in the field.

The call from the USGA came just after 6 a.m. Saturday, but Wimberly didn’t hear it on her voicemail until around 7:15 a.m. The starting time was at 8:55 a.m.

With less than two hours to dress, retrieve her golf bag from her home club, drive to Hillwood Country Club and squeeze in a few swings on the range and practice green, Wimberly made it to the first tee on time.

And despite posting an 83 in that rushed opening round on Saturday, Wimberly played better on Sunday – her 56th birthday – and advanced through 36 holes of stroke play. Then she really settled into the championship, posting a 5-and-4 win over Cheryl Grigg of Sea Island, Ga., in today’s Round of 64.

“I kept the ball in play, but my swing wasn’t very comfortable all day,” said Wimberly. “Our scoring wasn’t fantastic, but I made a lot of pars and some important putts when I needed them.”

While some players were battling nerves at the start of today’s opening round of match play championship, Wimberly said she was calm – largely because her real shot-out-of-a-cannon moment came Saturday while simply trying to get to Hillwood on time.

“I feel like everything is a bonus because of my unusual circumstances to get into the tournament,” said Wimberly. “I had a horrible start that first day and my putting was suspect, but at least I had ‘local knowledge,’ thanks to my caddie.”

Hillwood Country Club member Mary Ruth Geny was already at the course last Saturday when Wimberly arrived to play. She had signed up to volunteer with scoring and learned that her friend was now in the tournament field.

“A few minutes later, they told me that Lynda wanted me to caddie for her because she wanted me to help read the greens,” said Geny, who has been a member at Hillwood since she was 4 years old. “I might not play these greens as well as she does, but I can tell somebody else what to do.”

Geny also knew a few secrets about the course, such as the inside knowledge that “every putt speeds up going toward Post Road,” she said.

“You have to know where Post Road is and you really have to know these greens to read them well,” added Geny, who tried to qualify for this week’s championship but missed out. “It’s taken a while, but I’ve become a really good reader of these greens.”

“She also told me to quit swinging like an old lady,” laughed Wimberly.

“Old ladies tend to swing using only their arms, so I told her to stop doing that and to not go for some of the sucker pins they had set up out there today,” added Geny. “This is a lot of fun because even though I didn’t make it into the tournament as a player, I still get to be in the middle of everything.”

Wimberly says she plans to bring the same “no expectations” approach into Tuesday’s Round of 32 that she brought to the first tee for her hurried Saturday arrival. She calls herself a “weekend player” and said she tries not to get “too stressed” in her golf game.

“Everybody out here has the shots,” said Wimberly, a manufacturer’s rep in her company, Wimberly Sales, which sells commercial and industrial specialty HVAC equipment throughout Tennessee.

“Putting out here is tough and this tournament is about making the putts when you need to make them,” she added. “That’s why having someone local helps a lot.”

Wimberly’s mother, Joyce Wimberly, will have to forgive her daughter on Tuesday. Lynda was supposed to host a luncheon for her mother’s 80th birthday. The party will go on as planned, just without Lynda there to lead the singing.

Instead, Lynda Wimberly will be trying to continue her march through the draw at her second U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. And when her mother blows out the candles Tuesday around the same time the golfer is trying to wrap up her Round-of-32 match against Julie Carmichael, there might be a special wish from the woman who has watched her daughter progress from junior events all the way to the premier national amateur championship for seniors..

“She’ll forgive me,” laughed Wimberly. “She’s lived with golfers her whole life. She knows I’ll be trying to play to the best of my ability and that it’s all a bonus from here to the end of the week.”

For Wimberly, it was a bonus to just get here to begin with.