Carolyn Creekmore, 52, of Dallas, Texas, built a 2-up lead with birdies on holes 10 and 11 and hung on to defeat Liz Haines, 56, of Gladwyne, Pa., 1 up, in the 18-hole final match at the USGA Senior Women's Amateur at Pasatiempo Golf Club.
Creekmore never trailed over the tough 5,790-yard layout and seized the lead for good in this age 50-and-older championship, when she made a 12-footer that circled the hole before it fell on the 11th and then gained a concession on her 6-foot birdie putt on the following hole when Haines found trouble off the tee and was out of the hole.
Haines pulled to within 1 down when she chipped in from the back of the 12th green. From there, the two traded holes, with Creekmore taking the 14th with a par and Haines winning the 15th with a birdie. Haines had a chance to square the match on the par 3 last hole, but she missed her uphill 6-footer for birdie, allowingCreekmore to two-putt from 20 feet for the win.
"I told myself, 'You don't have to make the first putt, just make sure you make the next putt,’ " said Creekmore.
"This is something you want from the time you start playing golf," addedCreekmore, who tried professional golf for four years in her mid-20s before being reinstated as an amateur.
"I've always heard people say, ‘It hasn't sunk in,’ I'm just numb. You think, 'Wow, how'd I do that!’ "
Creekmore and Haines each had two winning pars through the first nine holes. Creekmore made a winning 6-footer for par at the second hole and two-putted for a win at the par-3 fifth. However, she three-putted the sixth and eighth holes to allow Haines to pull all square.
It was the last putt, however, that lingered in her mind.
"I wish I had made that putt on 18," said Haines, looking back at her match. "I took advantage of any mistakes Carolyn made and I played my best golf all week long. I'd like to think that when a match is this close that it could go either way."
Creekmore, who raises horse on a 60-acre farm with her boyfriend Donnie Anderson, a former Green Bay Packers' running back, was playing in her third Senior Women's Amateur. Her previous best in a USGA championship was twice reaching the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur (1997 and 1999). She also won the 1997 Texas Women's Amateur.
"I am playing better than ever," said the long-hitting Creekmore, who goes by the nickname Creekie. "This is so exciting I can't even tell you."
This was Haines' 29th USGA championship, covering more than 30 years. She was a semifinalist at the 2001 Senior Women's Amateur, but never was a finalist until now.
"I have been waiting a long time," said Haines of reaching a USGA final. Advancing in a USGA championship is always your highest goal as an amateur."
Creekmore had trailed for a total of only two holes over her previous four matches. She beat Toni Wiesner of Fort Worth, Texas, in her semifinal match, 2 up. She easily defeated Ann Lahey of Kentfield, Calif., in her quarterfinal match, 7 and 6. She made more birdies than anyone else in the field for the championship. With the usual concessions for match play, she had 15 bridies before the final match.
Haines was equally in form, playing from behind for only seven holes all week. She won her see-saw semifinal match over Martha Lang of Mandeville, La., 2 up. She beat Marianne Towersey of Newport Beach, Calif., in her quarterfinal match, 3 and 2. Haines made less than half the birdies that Creekmore did for the week (seven), but was adept at chipping and putting around the small, sloping greens designed by famous architect Alister Mackenzie.
The Senior Women's Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.