U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Round of 64: Five Things to Know October 7, 2018 | Vero Beach, Fla. By Scott Lipsky, USGA

Water will continue to be a factor at Orchid Island as match play progresses, but so will the wind. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

One hundred thirty-two players started the 57th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, and, after Monday morning’s 7-for-1 playoff for the final match-play spot concludes, 64 will remain. Match play is upon us at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club, so toss out those stroke-play scores and buckle up for the elimination portion of the competition. And take note of the following five things as head-to-head play commences:

Experience Abounds

Thirteen players who advanced to match play, or more than a fifth of the draw, have either won or finished as the runner-up in a USGA amateur championship, including the winners of seven of the last eight Senior Women’s Amateurs. A 14th, 2009 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Sherry Herman, is in the playoff for the final spot. Playing six matches in four days is a grueling, physical and mental test of golf, and a heavy chunk of the remaining field knows exactly what it means to navigate that gauntlet. How much of a role will that play come Monday?

Watch for the Wind

It’s easy to spot the architectural challenge that Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club presents – there is water on 17 of 18 holes – but that wasn’t the common refrain competitors mentioned after their final stroke-play rounds on Sunday. Most brought up the wind as a key defense for the Arnold Palmer design. According to the players, the primary culprit for many of the crooked numbers that were posted on their scorecards was the wind. If those conditions persist, it will be interesting to see which players are able to persevere and hit the right types of shots. With all of the aforementioned water around the course, there are plenty of forced carries and narrow landing areas, so controlling trajectory likely will be a recipe for success.

Another Chance for Mary Jane

Amateur golf enthusiasts remember Mary Jane Hiestand’s spirited run to the final of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, where the 58-year-old lost a hard-fought battle to 26-year-old Kelsey Chugg, 3 and 1, narrowly missing out on an opportunity to play in the U.S. Women’s Open. It was the second runner-up finish in that championship for the Naples, Fla., resident. But in eight starts in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, Hiestand has yet to reach the championship match. Her best finish came five years ago when she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Ellen Port. The two could meet in the semifinals again this year, but there’s a lot to navigate before then. First up for Hiestand is a Round-of-64 match against Mary Cabriele, of Vienna, Va., at 9:20 a.m. EDT on Monday.

A Familiar Sight for Samuel

The only thing standing in the way of the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur title for Canada’s Terrill Samuel was countrywoman Judith Kyrinis, who defeated her in the 18-hole final at Waverley Country Club, in Portland, Ore., 4 and 3. Samuel had no trouble returning to the match-play draw this year, and on Monday afternoon, the No. 6 seed will once again be tasked with taking on a fellow Canadian, this time No. 59 seed Rhonda Orr. If Samuel, 57, wants to finally have her name etched on the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur trophy, she’ll have to prove that she’s the class of Canada.

Low Seed Again? Shouldn’t Be a Problem

Rounds of 78-81 earned 2015 champion Karen Garcia, of Cool, Calif., a less-than-prime spot in the match-play draw. The No. 44 seed will take on No. 21 Suzi Spotleson at 11:20 a.m. on Monday. Being in the bottom half of the seeding, however, shouldn’t concern the 56-year-old, or lull her opponents into thinking this isn’t her week. When Garcia claimed the title three years ago at Hillwood Country Club, in Nashville, Tenn., she was the No. 55 seed, and in 2016, she advanced to the semifinals as the 36 seed. People always say that once stroke play concludes in a USGA amateur  championship, previous results can be thrown out.  Garcia is proof that, for all involved, that adage holds true..

Scott Lipsky is the senior manager of content for the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org.