U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Wooster Enters Match Play Confident and Battle-Tested
September 19, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass.
By Rob Duca
Sue Wooster did not shoot the lowest score over the 36 holes of stroke play at the 55th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Wellesley Country Club. But you could make a case that she is a player no one wants to face when the Round of 64 commences on Monday.
The stroke-play medalist, Judith Kyrinis, would probably agree with that sentiment. In the Round of 64 of last week’s U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa., Kryinis lost to the 54-year-old Australian, 4 and 2.
Just the fact that Wooster has Aussie blood running through her veins might make her dangerous. Competitors from Down Under are enjoying a big 2016 in USGA championships. Curtis Luck won the U.S. Amateur and Min Woo Lee became the first Australian to win the U.S. Junior Amateur.
Wooster qualified for match play on Sunday with a 2-over 76, which included four birdies, to place herself inside the top 15 at 9-over 157.
“I’ve come a long way, I have certain expectations of myself, so there was a bit of tension out there,” said Wooster, who drew 2009 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach for her Round-of-64 match on Monday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. “There were some tricky wind conditions. It was gusting, so it was difficult to tell how far the actual yardage was, and the greens are sloped so you are always trying to put the ball below the hole. So I was quite happy with my score.”
Her performance was even more gratifying after a worrisome warm-up session. She blamed her problems on adjustments she had made last week because of a rib injury.
“I couldn’t get back to my regular swing,” she said. “I didn’t find it until the last five balls I hit, and then something clicked.”
Wooster has now advanced to match play in all seven of her USGA championship appearances.
The defining characteristic of the Wellesley layout is it difficult putting surfaces, reflected in the stroke-play scores. Only one player, Kim Eaton, posted a round under par, and the stroke average was 84.64. But Wooster feels confident with her putter because of her background.
“I love the greens,” said Wooster. “The speed, the slopes and the grass are just like what we have in Australia. I’d be happy if they made them faster.”
A good putter is always dangerous in match play, a format in which Wooster once ran off a streak of 41 wins in 44 matches in Australia.
“The thing about match play is anyone can beat anyone,” she added. “It really comes down to putting, especially on greens like this that are fast and sloped.”
Wooster relishes the opportunity to improve on her match-play record in USGA events, especially now that she no longer has to make the grueling flight from her home in Melbourne to qualify. She and her husband, Keith, purchased a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., two years ago, to make playing in the U.S. easier.
“You’ve got the best seniors in the world here,” she said. “These are women of my age who just love the game. You can’t get that anywhere else except at USGA events.
“I put a lot of effort into my golf. Playing against the best women in the world, it would be a real honor. And I think I can do it. I just need to hole the putts.”
Rob Duca is a Massachusetts-based writer.