U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Longtime Friends Torti, Hayward Face Off Before Joining Forces September 12, 2017 | PORTLAND, Ore. By Tom Mackin

Mary Ann Hayward (left) defeated good friend Marie-Therese Torti in the Round of 32, then Torti picked up Hayward's bag in the Round of 16. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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Canadians Mary Ann Hayward and Marie-Therese Torti have played hundreds of both friendly and competitive rounds together since meeting in Quebec in the late 1970s.

But they never met in match play until today’s Round of 32 in the 56th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Waverley Country Club.

Naturally, it went extra holes.

Hayward, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, was 2 up through seven holes, but the match then went back and forth with multiple lead changes before Torti made par on 17 to go 1 up.

Needing to win the 18th hole to extend the match, Hayward drained a 30-foot downhill birdie putt to do just that.

“I hadn’t made a ton of long ones so I thought, maybe I’m due,” said Hayward, 57.

“I always think she can make every putt. But I will tell you I wish she didn’t make it,” said Torti, 54, laughing.

Both bogeyed the first extra hole, the 331-yard, par-4 first, with Torti missing a short par putt for the win.

“I thought it was over there,” said Hayward. “She hadn’t missed a putt all day. I had my hat off and was ready to shake her hand.”

“I was sure that putt was going to fall,” said Torti. “I thought I had it. But that’s golf.”

Hayward then won the 20th hole, and the match, with a par.

“I’m happy I pushed her to 20 holes,” said Torti. “It was a friendly match. I think it’s harder playing a friend. I wanted both of us to make birdies all the time.”

“For me, it was maybe better to play a good friend, it takes the nerves out of it,” said Hayward, who won the North & South Senior Championship at Pinehurst last month, defeating the defending champion and fellow Canadian Judith Kyrinis in 19 holes. “We know each other’s games well. There’s going to be no surprises, and we feel comfortable with each other. I know that on any given day, either one of us could win.”

“It’s tough,” said Torti, who has now lost in the Round of 32 three years in a row. “I thought I was on my way to the Round of 16, but unfortunately I met up with Mary Ann.”

The good friends, who are sharing a hotel room and rental car during the championship, spent last evening joking about the pairing. They even posted a photo on their Facebook pages showing them jokingly squaring off against each other with raised fists.

“That got lots of fun comments from friends,” said Hayward, a Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member who has won four Canadian Amateur Championships and three Canadian Senior Women’s Championships. “This is senior golf. It’s more about the fun and the friends you meet along the way. It was a great match.”

“You have to have fun,” said Torti, who won the Quebec Senior Match Play Championship earlier this year to go along with three Quebec Amateur Match Play wins. “She’s a good friend and I respect her golf game. I’ve learned a lot from her over the years.”

Hayward and Torti’s time together didn’t end with their match.

“We agreed ahead of time that whoever didn’t win would caddie for the other in the next match,” said Hayward, who faced Sherry Smith, of Irvine, Calif., in the Round of 16. ”I’m hoping she’ll give me some good reads because she’s been putting great this week.”

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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