U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
Tuesday's Double Dose of Match Play: 5 Things to Know September 24, 2018 | ST. LOUIS, MO. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

The first of two consecutive double-round days will challenge the preparation and stamina of competitors. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Home

Eleven USGA champions made the 132-player field for the 32nd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Norwood Hills Country Club, and eight of them made it to match play. All eight of those players prevailed on Monday in the Round of 64 to keep their title hopes alive, but now, the real grind begins. The champion will have to win five matches over the next three days, starting with Tuesday’s two-round docket.

Here are five things to know for Tuesday’s morning Round of 32 and afternoon Round of 16.

Potter and Starosto Impress

From 2013 through 2016, Julia Potter-Bobb and Margaret (Shirley) Starosto combined to earn six of the eight berths in the finals. They squared off and split the victories in 2013 and 2014, while Starosto lost to Lauren Greenlief in 2015 and Potter-Bobb defeated Shannon Johnson in 2016. On Monday, Starosto won her first-round match by an 8-and-6 margin, Potter by 6-and-5. Those victories give them a combined match-play record of 43-7 as they each compete in their sixth championship: 22-4 for Starosto and 21-3 for Potter-Bobb. They don’t look like they will be going away soon, and because they are on opposite sides of the match-play bracket, if they meet again this year it would be in the final.

Veteran Savvy

Likewise, No. 3 seed Meghan Stasi has been a model of consistency in this championship – for even longer than Potter-Bobb and Starosto. Stasi, 40, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has never failed to win at least one match in each of her 13 starts in this championship, winning the title four times and reaching the semifinals three other times, most recently in 2014. Stasi, who defeated Alexa Pano in January to capture her second Jones/Doherty Championship title, offset four bogeys with a pair of birdies in 15 holes in her opening match on Monday, a 4-and-3 win over Allison Schultz, of Madison, Wis., and likewise appears poised for a deep run.

Local Knowledge?

Ellen Port is a St. Louis native who is looking to capture her eighth USGA championship this weekend, and like Stasi, is vying for her fifth U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur title. Port switched caddies on Monday as the club member who toted for her on the weekend was unavailable. Ryan Roy, the head professional at Norwood Hills, picked up the bag and Port was thrilled to have his help reading the West Course’s tricky greens – for the most part. “He knows the greens better than anyone,” Port said after her 1-up win over Truc Ly. “But sometimes that can backfire because as a champion player, you have to be the one that is decisive. We misread the first hole, but the rest were spot-on.”

Local Hopefuls

Port is not the only player in Tuesday’s Round of 32 with ties to the area. Two-time champion Potter-Bobb played her college golf at the University of Missouri, and Michelle Butler, 25, of Columbia, Mo., also played at Missouri and is a graduate assistant coach for the Columbia College golf teams. Kayla Eckelkamp, 28, is a registered nurse from Washington, Mo., who has won two Missouri Women’s Mid-Amateur titles and is competing in her third straight U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. Should the No. 21-seeded Butler and the No. 60-seeded Eckelkamp both win their morning matches, they would square off in the Round of 16 at 1 p.m. CDT.

International Presence

Four of the seven international players who made the match-play bracket advanced on Monday, and that was with an early Canada-vs.-Canada matchup guaranteeing one exit. Julia Hodgson, 26, of Toronto, edged Christina Proteau, 35, of Port Alberni, British Columbia, in 19 holes. No. 31 seed Proteau is a mainstay of this championship, having reached match play in all six of her starts since 2012 (she didn’t play in 2017). This year marks the first time that Proteau didn’t win at least two matches (she was a semifinalist in 2015). No. 34 seed Hodgson now looks to improve on her Round-of-32 finish in her 2017 debut.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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