Round 1: 5 Things to Watch September 9, 2017 | PORTLAND, Ore. By Tom Mackin

Three-time U.S. Senior Women's Amateur champion Ellen Port is aiming to tie JoAnne Gunderson Carner for the most USGA titles by a woman. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

The 56th U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur will be the seventh USGA championship conducted at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Ore. Almost half of the field returns from last year’s championship, played at Wellesley Country Club in Massachusetts, including defending champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo., one of 13 USGA champions in the field.

The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur consists of two 18-hole rounds of stroke play, after which the field will be cut from 132 to the low 64 scorers for match play, beginning Monday. Here are five things to watch during the first round of stroke play.

Eight Isn’t Enough: Defending champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo., is looking for her fourth U.S Senior Women’s Amateur title (she also won previously in 2012 and 2013) and her eighth USGA title, thanks to four wins in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. Port played at Waverley Country Club during the 2000 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, but did not advance to match play. An eighth USGA title would tie JoAnne Gunderson Carner for the most by a female player and tie her with Jack Nicklaus. Only Bob Jones and Tiger Woods have won more USGA championships, with nine apiece.

Oh Canada: The Canadian contingent has brought impressive playing resumes. Helene Chartrand won the 2014 Canadian Senior Women’s Amateur Championship and finished runner-up in 2016. She is also the 2013 Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. Mary Ann Hayward is a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur champion who has been inducted into the Canada, Ontario and Quebec golf halls of fame. Judith Kyrinis won the 2015 Senior Women’s North & South Championship and the 2016 Canadian Women’s Senior Championship. She was the runner-up in the 2014 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and medalist in the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, advancing to the quarterfinals. Terrill Samuel won the Canadian Women’s Senior Championship in 2012 and 2015. Marie-Therese Torti won the 2017 Quebec Senior Match Play, the 2010 Golf Canada Women’s Mid-Amateur and the 2013 Quebec Senior Women’s Amateur titles.

Home Cooking: Six current Oregon residents are competing this week, including Marcia Fisher, of Molalla; Terri Frohnmayer, of Salem; Loree McKay, Lisa Poritz and Lara Tennant, all of Portland, and Anita Wicks, of Roseburg. Also competing is 1972 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and eight-time Oregon Women’s Amateur champion Mary Budke, a native of Salem who now resides in Palm Springs, Calif. She played golf at Oregon State University and is a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, OSU Athletics Hall of Fame and Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) Hall of Fame. 

Close Calls: Seven previous Senior Women’s Amateur runners-up are in the field, including those from the past five years: Andrea Kraus (2016), Pamela Kuong (2015), Judith Kyrinis (2014), Susan Kohn (2013) and Jane Fitzgerald (2012). Others include Carolyn Creekmore (2009) and Anna Schultz (2006).

Return Visit: Nine players in the field have played in USGA championships at Waverley Country Club. That includes the 1981 U.S. Women’s Amateur (Patricia Cornett and Kim Eaton) and the 2000 U.S. Women’s Amateur (Sherry Herman, Mary Jane Hiestand, Martha Leach, Adrienne MacLean, Ellen Port, Lara Tennant and Brenda Williams).

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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