U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Reigning Champ Tennant, 7 Other USGA Champs Into Round of 32
August 26, 2019 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Defending champion Lara Tennant, of Portland, Ore., rolled in a nerve-wracking 4-foot bogey putt to halve the 18th hole on Monday and seal a 1-up victory over Susan West, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club.
Tennant birdied the par-5 15th hole for a 3-up lead with three holes to play, but she was bunkered on No. 16 and three-putted No. 17 for bogeys to West’s pars, bringing the match to the uphill, 320-yard, par-4 18th. Tennant’s approach shot left her with a daunting putt from the left side of the green, and she left it 18 inches from the hole. Tennant barely tapped the sliding, sidehill putt, but it missed the hole and ended up 4 feet past. She made the comebacker for bogey to halve the hole and win, 1 up.
“It’s one of those greens that I don’t think anybody is going to figure out,” said Tennant, 52, of the closing hole on the Donald Ross-designed course. “Maybe my goal the rest of the week should be to try to finish my matches before 18.”
No. 1 seed Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., completed her opening match on the 14th hole, notching a 6-and-4 victory over Jane Curtin, of Silver Spring, Md., after earning medalist honors in stroke play for the first time in her 71 USGA championship starts.
Leach, 57, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and husband John Leach, who coaches and caddies for her, were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary on Monday. Her round got off to a nice start with wins on the first four holes, three of them with pars, and she weathered a bit of rain mid-round.
“I had a lull in the rain; I hit some bad shots,” said Leach, who was the low amateur in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open last year. “But John set me straight and I started hitting it better after that. Didn’t make any substantial putts, but it’s all good. We’re a little wet, but we’re happy.”
Seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo., the No. 2 seed, earned a solid 6-and-5 victory over fellow Missourian Kathy Glennon, of Wildwood, Mo.
“I was steady, I think I missed maybe one fairway and two greens,” said Port, 57, who has won this championship three times, most recently in 2016. “Kathy’s a really good player and we’ve played a lot of golf together. She’s not the person you want to draw because she’s a great putter, steady, a fierce competitor. But by her admission, she was a little bit out of sync.”
No. 3 seed Mary Ann Hayward, of Canada, broke away from Monica Townsend, of El Paso, Texas, by winning the ninth and 10th holes on the way to a 3-and-2 win. Hayward, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, was one of seven Canadian players to reach match play, and four of them advanced, including 2017 champion Judith Kyrinis, the No. 6 seed, who defeated fellow Canadian Audrey Akins, 4 and 3.
No. 4 seed Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, Calif., won the first four holes on the way to a 7-and-6 win over Dori Eastwood, of Lexington, Ky. Weworski, 57, is the 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a two-time quarterfinalist in this championship.
The Round of 32 will begin at 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, and the Round of 16 will be played on Tuesday afternoon, starting at 1:30. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday and the 18-hole championship final is set for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Pam Kuong, of Wellesley Hills, Mass., the runner-up in this championship in 2015, outlasted Marilyn Hardy, of Magnolia, Texas, in 24 holes, matching the longest match in championship history. Kuong won with a birdie on the par-5 sixth. She birdied the 16th hole to tie the match before the players halved seven straight holes, six of them with pars. “It was a great match,” she said. “I told Peter [McCarthy her caddie], ‘A birdie’s going to win this,’ and it should rightfully be a birdie. You don’t want to win it on a three-putt or something. On the sixth hole [24th of the match], Peter said to me, ‘Can you make this putt? I’m so hungry right now.’”
No. 7 seed Laura Webb, of Ireland, notched a 5-and-4 win over 2010 USA Curtis Cup captain Noreen Mohler, of Bethlehem, Pa. Webb was exempt into the championship off her victory in the 2018 British Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Crail in Scotland.
Diane Lang, of Weston, Fla., a three-time champion of this event and the No. 9 seed, lost a 4-and-3 decision to Rhonda Orr, of Canada. Lang, who won in 2005, 2006 and 2008, was not the highest seed to lose on Monday. No. 8 Leigh Klasse, of Cumberland, Wis., lost to No. 57 Cheryl Grigg, of Sea Island, Ga., 2 and 1.
“When we were at dinner last night, someone said I can’t believe you’ve never been a medalist. And I said, well, I’ve played in 71 of these and only won one, so I’m thinking that chances of getting it are slim.” – Martha Leach, on earning her first No. 1 seed in a USGA championship on Sunday
“I think that’s a competitive thing, getting more mentally tough. I hung in there. I don’t even know how I made it all the way to 18, because I didn’t hardly hit any greens. I putted well, I chipped well… I think the mental toughness was still there, but I think the swing and the trust of the swing wasn’t.” – Kathy Hartwiger, 53, of Birmingham, Ala., the 2002 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion who was competing in a USGA championship for the first time in nine years and lost, 1 up, to Jayne Pardus
“I’ve got command of the putter and I feel really good about my game. When I was up on Kathy [Glennon], you have to discipline your mind and not say, I just have to par this hole… that is not what you need to be thinking. I have a very active mind, so I have to really try to pull in the reins a little bit.” – Ellen Port, the No. 2 seed and a three-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion, on her victory on Monday
“At one point, I was thinking, if one of us doesn’t make a birdie putt, we literally could keep going for a long time, because our games are almost exactly the same. We’re going to keep playing and make the turn.” – Pam Kuong, on her 24-hole win over Marilyn Hardy
After Sunday’s round, Leach joked that receiving stroke-play honors was taboo.https://t.co/gkYTGZorqf— Golfweek (@golfweek) August 26, 2019
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.