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Thompson Takes USGA Senior Women's Amateur Fourth Year in a Row October 10, 2002 | Southern Pines, N.C. By Ken Klavon

(USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Sooner or later Carol Semple Thompson, 53, of Sewickley, Pa., may have to start charging the USGA rent for housing the Senior Women’s Amateur trophy. That’s because Thompson won the championship for the fourth consecutive year when she beat Barbara Berkmeyer, 58, of St. Louis, 3 and 1, amid pouring rain Thursday at the 41st USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, held at the par-72, 5,873-yard Mid-Pines Inn and Golf Club.

En route to winning, Thompson set a couple of records. She tied, broke then extended the USGA mark for most consecutive matches won in a single championship, which now stands at 24. And she became the first qualifying medalist to go wire to wire since the format changed from stroke to match play in 1997.

Only Carolyn Cudone has won more Senior Women’s Amateurs in a row, with five (1968-72).

“It’s been quite a year. I feel quite blessed,” said Thompson, who advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur and was on the winning USA Curtis Cup team. “No, I can’t put it into words because I’m amazed at how it developed. I didn’t think I’d get through any of the rounds. … I guess it validates my game for me.”

For the fourth year in a row, the trophy will be on display at Allegheny Country Club (Pa.).

“A funny story, but when the trophy was shipped here, the person at Allegheny put a message in with the package. It said, ‘Please return with care to Allegheny Country Club,’” said Thompson.

After eliminating Anne Carr of Seattle 1 up in the semifinal match earlier in the day, which was a rematch of last year’s final, Thompson didn’t waver from her strategy of making pars. Seven of the first nine holes were pars, and good for a 1-up lead at the turn.

Berkmeyer, who dispatched Marsha Butler, 53, of San Diego in her semifinal match, squared things by No. 10 with a 104-yard approach to inches of the hole to win it.

However, on the 347-yard, par-4 12th, Thompson took the lead again when Berkmeyer couldn’t get up and down.

“To lose nine and 10 was a bit discouraging,” said Thompson. “To win 12 gave me a big lift.”

After that, heavy rain saturated the course. On No. 14, Berkmeyer missed an 8-footer, while Thompson sank a 2-footer to go 2 up. One hole later, Berkmeyer missed a 5-footer to fall 3 down.

“I was playing an experienced player,” said Berkmeyer. “Whether it’s rainy, sunny, she’s going to win the match. I shouldn’t let the match get to 3 down.”

When Berkmeyer couldn’t get up and down on No. 17, she conceded. Thompson hugged her mother and husband.

“She doesn’t make many mistakes,” said Berkmeyer, a champion in her local area. “Sometimes going in you try to make perfect shots instead of good shots. … Anytime you get here it’s a plus. Here I was the underdog. I wasn’t supposed to win.”

Someone asked Thompson which of the titles she cherishes most.

“They’re all special in their own way,” she said. “The first one was special because I was expected to win. It got the monkey off my back.”

The Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The event was first played in 1962.