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U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
3 Things to Know: Match Play
August 26, 2019 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
The 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur has been whittled to the top 64 players at Cedar Rapids Country Club, and the second phase begins on Monday. Many players talked about stroke play as an opportunity to gain even more familiarity with the course after two practice rounds, while others were more concerned with earning their slot in the match-play bracket. All would agree that they start the Round of 64 from scratch.
Here are 3 Things to Know for match play:
Are You Experienced?
The field is made up of players 50 and older, so they all know their way around the course. But to hoist the trophy on Thursday, a player is going to need to win six matches over four days, and it can’t hurt to have been through that wringer before. Of the nine players who shot 4-over-par 146 or better in stroke play to earn seeds 1-9, seven are USGA champions. Two of those players (Ellen Port and Diane Lang) have won multiple USGA championships, and the group also includes the two most recent Senior Women’s Amateur champions in Judith Kyrinis (2017) and Lara Tennant (2018), and three U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur winners: Corey Weworski (2002), Mary Ann Hayward (2005) and Martha Leach (2009). Medalist and top seed Leach, who was also runner-up to Port in the same championship two years later, was pleased with her weekend rounds. “It was a good 73 today,” she said on Sunday. “I didn’t put any stress on myself, so that was a positive.” There will be plenty of that as the bracket is whittled over the next few days, but who better to cope with it than these veterans?
Of the eight players from Canada in the starting field of 132, seven qualified for match play, and the eighth (Barbara Flaman) missed out on the 8-for-5 playoff by one stroke. The strong contingent from the Great White North includes Hayward, the No. 3 seed and a past USGA champion, along with four Canadian Women’s Amateurs, as well as No. 6 Kyrinis, the 2017 champion and 2015 runner-up. Not to be overlooked are Marie-Therese Torti at No. 15 and Jackie Little at No. 17. Little just won the Canadian Women’s Super Senior (60 and older) title, while Kyrinis swept the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur, Mid-Master (40 and older) and Senior Women’s titles for the second time. The three other foreign players also boast strong credentials: No. 7 seed Laura Webb, of the Republic of Ireland, has won two British Senior Women’s titles, while Sue Wooster, of Australia, was the 2018 runner-up to Lara Tennant, and Mina Hardin, of Mexico, won this championship in 2010 and was runner-up a year later.
Championship director Tracy Parsons gave the players some inkling of the variety of tee shots they could expect in course setup for match play, having placed multiple sets of tees on some holes during Thursday and Friday practice rounds. Competitors can expect some variety in the look and playing characteristics, including on No. 12, a par 3 that played at 105 and 100 yards, respectively, for stroke play but will be a much more daunting 178 yards in the Round of 64. “That’s going to be our ‘welcome-to-match-play’ hole,” said Parsons. “The tee is a little more to the left, and the green complex falls off severely in the front. The idea is to provide some different approaches, different angles and different challenges.”
Parsons plans to make two holes longer and two shorter on Monday. “Even though we set the course up to be challenging for stroke play, top to bottom, the match-play setup ramps it up just a touch to help identify the players who should keep advancing.”
Two areas of the course where Parsons expects matches to turn are holes 2-3 and the finishing trio. No. 2 is a par 4 that favors a player who can hit a shot far and accurate enough to catch the “speed slot” on the left of the fairway and have it tumble down to within wedge distance. Those who miss the chute effect will be left with a much longer shot, possibly from the right rough. No. 3 will play about 50 yards longer than its listed 315 yards at some point during match play, making the tee shot more challenging on the dogleg-right hole. The closing trio of par 4s (Nos. 16-18) were three of the four toughestholes in stroke play, and Parsons expects that to continue. After three-putting No. 18 Sunday, medalist Martha Leach called the green “diabolical.”
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.