Defending champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, defeated Susan Cohn, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 3 and 2, in the final match Thursday to win the 52nd USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at CordeValle for her sixth career USGA victory.
Port, 52, a high school teacher and golf coach, joins some legendary names in women’s golf with victory No. 6, which ties her with Glenna Collett Vare and Hollis Stacy for fourth place on the all-time USGA women’s win list. With her victory on the heels of the 2012 championship at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club, Port now trails only JoAnne Gunderson Carner, who tops the women’s list with eight, and Carol Semple Thompson and Anne Quast Sander, who have each won seven. Bob Jones and Tiger Woods lead the way among all players with nine championships each, while Jack Nicklaus has eight.
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"I don't put myself up at their level because they're the greatest in the game at their level," said Port, who had been tied at five titles with Juli Inkster and Mickey Wright, among others. "But, I'm very blessed in what I've been able to accomplish in a short time, and I'm thrilled."
Port, who also owns four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur wins, will captain the USA Team in the 2014 Curtis Cup Match, which will be held in June in her hometown. She came into the championship having lost her father-in-law, Robert Port, on Sept. 16; his funeral is scheduled for Friday in St. Louis.
Port took a 3-up lead through three holes on Thursday as Cohn struggled to a trio of double bogeys, and then the pair matched pars over the next nine holes at the 5,996-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones Jr. course.
"I tend to get off to a slow start for whatever reason," said Cohn, 50, who works in a golf shop. "I don’t know if it’s nerves, probably. Today, I joked to myself that it’s not every day that you have the Golf Channel with you on the first tee. Ellen is as sweet as can be. She is a calming influence as an opponent. But, I wasn’t settled. I can’t blame it on anything. I hit bad shots."
The USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, for players 50 years and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
On the par-4 13th, Cohn, who was playing in her first USGA championship in 21 years, won her first hole of the match when Port knocked her downhill, 60-foot approach putt 6 feet past the hole and missed the comeback putt.
Port regained her 3-up advantage with a two-putt par on the next hole, the par-4 14th, when Cohn could not get up and down from in front of the green.
Both players birdied the uphill 411-yard, par-5 15th, with Port two-putting from 32 feet and Cohn making a 5-foot putt.
On the short 123-yard, par-3 16th, Port hit the far-right hand portion of the green, 60 feet away and Cohn’s tee shot landed 15 yards past the hole in the back greenside rough.
Port hit her approach putt to within 6 feet and converted the par putt to close out the match.
In the course of the nine consecutive halved holes, Port converted par saves on holes 6, 9 and 11 to keep Cohn from trimming the advantage.
The highlight was perhaps her third shot into the green on the 341-yard, par-4 11th. After driving into a fairway bunker, Port chose to play short and left herself 135 yards into a 20-mile-per-hour wind.
"I just said, I've got to stick this," said Port, who celebrated her birthday on the first day of the championship. "I've been hitting my irons well all week, and (caddie) Carlos (Cortez) gave me great numbers all week, too. He was so quick at the yardage, there was no doubt. I took a 6‑iron; I was 135 yards away into a two‑club wind and just knocked it down right at the flag."
"Ellen is an amazing player – I expect her to make par or better," said Cohn, who played collegiate golf at the University of North Carolina, earning four letters. "She did make amazing up and downs but somehow in my brain she is going to make a par or better and she does."
Port, who is 12-0 in matches in this championship over two years, is the first player to win in back-to-back years since Diane Lang in 2005 and 2006. Seven other players have won in consecutive years in the history of the championship. Carolyn Cudone has the record with five consecutive championships from 1968 through 1972.
En route to the championship match, Cohn defeated 2009 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Sherry Herman, of Holmdel, N.J., in the third round in 19 holes, and 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, Calif., in the quarterfinals in 20 holes.
All quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2014 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, to be played Sept. 13-18 at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J.
Port receives a gold medal and custody of the Senior Women’s Amateur Championship Trophy for one year.
Pete Kowalski is the USGA's director of championship communications. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Results from Thursday’s 18-hole championship match at the 2013 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, played at 5,996-yard, par-72 CordeValle:
Ellen Port, St. Louis, Mo. (156) def. Susan Cohn, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (154), 3 and 2