Canada’s Marlene Streit, 69, outlasted Nancy Fitzgerald, 59, of Carmel, Ind., in 23 holes Thursday to capture the 2003 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at the 5,762-yard, par-72 Foothills course at Barton Creek Resort & Club.
It is the fourth USGA championship for Streit, who also captured the 1956 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 1985 and 1994 Senior Women’s Amateurs. At 69 years, six months and two days old, she breaks the record of oldest to ever capture a USGA championship of 69 years, four months, and 24 days set by Lewis Oehmig at the 1985 Senior Amateur.
Streit also joins countrywoman Gayle Borthwick as the only two players to have won the Senior Women’s Amateur in both the stroke-play and match-play formats.
“This is really something,” Streit said. “If anyone had said I’d win another championship after the year 2000, I wouldn’t have believed it. I didn’t think I’d ever win another national championship.”
Streit squared the match on the par-5, 460-yard 18th hole when she sank a four-foot par putt and Fitzgerald missed her six-foot putt for par. The two remained all square until the 23rd hole, the par-5, 506-yard 5th hole, where Fitzgerald put her approach shot on the edge of a hazard, chipped on and two-putted, while Streit was safely on the green and two-putted for par to earn the 1-up victory.
It was the second marathon match for Streit, who needed 24 holes to oust Marianne Towersey, 52, of Newport Beach, Calif., in Thursday morning’s semifinal. The 24 holes was the most-ever in a Senior Women’s Amateur match, and the 23 holes was a new high for the championship final.
“I always tell the young kids, you can’t get tired until it’s over,” said Streit. “You can’t get tired while you’re doing it, so I just tried to tell myself that. I could have gone as many holes as it would have taken. ”
Fitzgerald, the 1997 Senior Women’s Amateur champion, was also facing her second tough match of the day, after ousting four-time defending champion Carol Semple Thompson, 54, of Sewickley, Pa., 1 up.
“I think I played some of the best competitive golf of my life this morning,” Fitzgerald said. “I knew I’d have to do it. Carol beat me last year so I was up for it. Mentally I was ready to go and we played, in my opinion, great golf this morning.”
After winning the match on the 18th hole, when Semple Thompson missed her par putt, Fitzgerald had a lengthy wait while Streit’s semifinal match ended.
“After waiting that hour and a half; to try to regroup and get that adrenaline going was something I was worried about,” Fitzgerald said. “I never got the feel back that I had in the morning. I think that happens when you play exceptionally well and you have to turn it around in the afternoon and get it together again.”
The semifinal loss ended Semple Thompson’s win streak of 28 consecutive Senior Women’s Amateur matches, and ended her hopes of tying Carolyn Cudone’s record of five consecutive titles, set from 1968-72.
“Nancy played beautifully today,” said Semple Thompson, who was the equivalent of two under par. “I played well, but not well enough.”
The USGA Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.