Top Seeds Prevail on Rainy Day at Wellesley Country Club September 19, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass. By Hunki Yun, USGA
The 0.29 inches of rain that fell on Wellesley Country Club on Monday was welcome for the drought-stricken area. But for the competitors in the Round of 64 of the 55th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, the precipitation complicated the already challenging task of winning matches on the 6,049-yard layout.
For many, especially the top seeds, the solution was to limit their exposure to the elements by winning in as few holes as possible.
Medalist Judith Kyrinis was one of 12 players who won by five or more holes. The 52-year-old Canadian defeated Jen Holland, 53, of Branford, Conn., 6 and 5.
“Sometimes it is tough to get that first match under your belt,” said Kyrinis, who lost just one hole. “I stroked the ball real well today [on the greens] and probably hit it the best I have all week.”
No. 2 seed Kim Eaton, 57, of Mesa, Ariz., enjoyed the largest margin of victory, with a 7-and-6 win over Deborah Anderson, 65, of La Quinta, Calif.
“I am glad to be done,” said Eaton, who won six consecutive holes, from the second to the seventh. “I’m not used to wearing all this [rain gear]. I’m from Arizona where it doesn’t rain very much.”
The top eight seeds advanced comfortably, although not everyone won as decisively as Kyrinis or Eaton did. Only Laura Coble, the No. 7 seed, was extended to the 17th hole.
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The competition consists of 36 holes stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the 18-hole championship match scheduled to take place on Thursday, Sept. 22.
The Round of 32 will begin at 7:45 a.m. EDT on Tuesday; the first of eight matches for the Round of 16 is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m.
Other players advancing to the Round of 32 with easy victories were defending champion Karen Garcia, 53, of Cool, Calif., with a 6-and-5 victory over Janet Moore, 52, of Centennial, Colo.; two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Ellen Port, 54, of St. Louis, with a 5-and-4 win over Alicia Kapheim, 54, of Pennington, N.J.; and 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, 54, with a 6-and-5 victory over 69-year-old Nancy Smith, of Venice, Fla., the oldest competitor to qualify for match play.
“My putting started getting a little better,” said Garcia, who made three birdies. “That was what really frustrated me yesterday. I was really tentative and today I was swinging a little more aggressively and firing at the pins. You can do that in match play.”
While the top seeds’ victories were imbued with little drama, USGA heavyweights Robin Burke, 54, of Houston, and Mina Hardin, 56, of Mexico, traded punches throughout their match, with neither leading by more than one hole. All square after 18 holes, 2016 USGA Cutis Cup captain Burke and 2010 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Hardin hooked their drives on the 19th hole in the same area left of the fairway, leaving difficult second shots over a large bunker to a back-left hole location.
Burke’s approach shot found the green, but her ball was on the lower tier of the large putting surface, 40 feet from the hole. Hardin steered her second shot conservatively to the right, missing the green. Her slightly mis-hit chip failed to climb to the top tier.
After Burke two-putted for par, Hardin missed her 10-foot par attempt.
“I’m happy to get through,” said Burke, who faces Kyrinis on Tuesday morning. “I’d been struggling all day on the greens and on the last putt, the light switch came on. I really think my par on that last hole will help me tomorrow.”
A similarly compelling match took place between Massachusetts residents Cindy Fentross, 52, of West Boylston, and Pam Kuong, 55, of Wellesley Hills. Playing in her first USGA championship, Fentross won four of the first six holes before withstanding a late surge by last year’s finalist to advance with a 2-and-1 victory.
“I knew that at any point in time, no matter what lead I had, she was going to come back, and she did,” said Fentross, who is making the hour-long commute from her home every day. “I just tried to stay positive and not so much play conservative, but attack the ball.
“I’ve played many matches with Pam and she’s beaten me many times. Today was very, very sweet.”