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U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Three USGA Champions Into Quarterfinals at Lakewood Club September 13, 2021 | Clear Point, Ala. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Ellen Port showed the fight of a 7-time USGA champion with her come-from-behind, 19-hole win in the Round of 16. (Kathryn Riley/USGA) 

59th U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

What Happened

Two-time defending champion Lara Tennant and three-time champion Ellen Port both rallied to win a pair of matches on Monday to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 59th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship on the 5,771-yard, par-72 Dogwood Course at The Lakewood Club.

Port, 59, of St. Louis, Mo., a seven-time USGA champion, was tied through 13 holes in her morning Round-of-32 match with Marilyn Hardy, of Magnolia, Texas, but prevailed, 2 and 1. Port was 2 down to Therese Quinn, of Jacksonville, Fla., through 15 holes in the afternoon Round of 16, but rallied to win Nos. 16 and 18, then advanced with a par on the first extra hole.

RELATED CONTENT: Meet the 2021 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Quarterfinalists

Tennant, 54, of Portland, Ore., who won the 2018 and 2019 titles (2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), extended her win streak in the championship to 15 matches, but it took some doing. The co-medalist and No. 1 seed this week, Tennant was 2 down to 2017 champion Judith Kyrinis after eight holes in the morning Round of 32.

Tennant made birdies on the par-4 11th and 14th holes and traded par wins with Kyrinis to send the match to extra holes. Kyrinis, 57, of Canada, who also reached the final in this championship in 2014, three-putted for bogey from just off the front of the green on the 477-yard, par-5 first hole to lose to Tennant’s two-putt par.

“When I was 2 down, I set a scoring goal for myself, just to think about my own game,” said Tennant, who last lost in the Senior Women’s Amateur in 2017, in the Round of 64 after earning the No. 1 seed on her home course, Waverley Country Club. “The goal was 2 under and I ended up playing those 10 holes in 1 under. I think that helped me redirect my thoughts.”

Tennant was tied with Kelly Nittoli, of San Antonio, Texas, through 10 holes in the Round of 16, then won three straight holes – two with birdies – and closed out the match on the 17th hole, 2 and 1.

Kathy Hartwiger, of Birmingham, Ala., the 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and the No. 5 seed, also won two matches, defeating 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up Mary Jane Hiestand, of Naples, Fla., 3 and 2, in the morning, and overcoming Adrienne MacLean, of Tequesta, Fla., in 20 holes.

No. 2 seed and co-medalist Gigi Higgins, of Cape Coral, Fla.; No. 4 Susan Cohn, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and No. 8 Sally Krueger, of San Francisco, Calif., also advanced to the quarterfinals. Two matches that were suspended by darkness concluded on Tuesday morning. Sylvie Van Molle, of Belgium, outlasted Tracy Welch, of Winchester, Mass., in 22 holes, while Shelly Stouffer, of Canada, defeated Patricia Ehrhart, of Birmingham, Ala., 3 and 1.

What’s Next

The quarterfinal matches will commence at 8 a.m. CDT, followed by the semifinals at 1 p.m. CDT. The 18-hole championship match on Wednesday is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. The public is welcome to attend and admission is free.

Co-medalist Gigi Higgins posted a pair of wins on Monday to reach the quarterfinals at The Lakewood Club. (Kathryn Riley/USGA)

Notable

  • Patricia Ehrhart, the No. 7 seed and a semifinalist in 2019, rallied to win the longest match in U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur history in the Round of 32 on Monday morning. Ehrhart, 56, of Birmingham, Ala., outlasted Jayne Pardus, 52, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., in 26 holes after Pardus won Nos. 17 and 18 to force extra holes. The pair parred seven holes before Pardus found the water on the par-3 eighth hole, then conceded Ehrhart’s short par putt after missing her attempt for bogey. The match was two holes longer than the previous mark of 24 holes, on two occasions: Marlene Streit defeated Marianne Towersey in the semifinal round at Barton Creek Resort and Club in Austin, Texas, in 2003; and Pam Kuong defeated Marilyn Hardy in the first round at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club in 2019. “I’ve known Patty [Ehrhart] for almost 30 years – we played the Futures Tour together a long time ago,” said Pardus, who made a 12-foot birdie on No. 18 to tie the match. “She’s had her kids and I’ve had mine and now we’re back here playing senior golf. It was a battle; she wasn’t giving in and neither was I.”

  • The quarterfinalists are exempt into the 2022 championship at Anchorage Golf Course in Alaska, from July 30-Aug. 4. It will be the first USGA championship ever held in the Frontier State. Semifinalists earn a two-year exemption, and the runner-up earns a three-year exemption. The champion is exempt into the next 10 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs, among other exemptions. The 2023 championship will be held at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

  • If a player is unsure whether to play a match aggressively, they might be well served to adopt the attitude of Admiral David Farragut, who was once said to proclaim not far from here, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Farragut, who led the Union blockade of Southern ports during the Civil War, is best known for his victory in August 1864 at the Battle of Mobile Bay, just south of Point Clear. He was exhorting his fleet to ignore Confederate defenses in the harbor.

  • This week’s event is the third USGA championship at The Lakewood Club, and the eighth USGA championship in Alabama. The club hosted two previous U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs, in 1974 and 1986. The most recent USGA event before this week was the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, won by Ariya Jutanugarn. The Country Club of Birmingham will host its third USGA championship, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, from May 14-18, 2022.

Quotable

“On a long day like this, you always start over in the second round, but you have the advantage of having played the course earlier in the day. It makes you feel a little bit more comfortable with the greens and with your approach shots.” – Lara Tennant, on her two-round day philosophy

“Both of us struggled with the greens, which seemed a bit slower this morning, and that’s usually one of our strengths. Overall, I think we both played solid golf, just at different times in the match. Always try to play the course, not your opponent.” – Tennant, on her match with Kyrinis

“It was just a shame to lose it on 19 like that. It’s very disappointing. But Lara’s a great champion and she fought back. My play in match play was significantly better than my qualifying. I just need to play better in qualifying, so I don’t have to meet her so early [in the bracket].” – 2017 champion Judith Kyrinis, who qualified as the No. 33 seed 

“I hit a lot of good shots, got it up and down when I had to, which is sort of my game because I’m not the longest hitter out here. But I have to putt better, I have to be sharper tomorrow, whoever I play.” – – Susan Cohn, the No. 4 seed, who will play No. 5 seed Kathy Hartwiger in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round

“I had really good looks on Nos. 2 and 3 and they just didn’t fall, then I had a really good two-putt on No. 7 to keep it going. We had a perfect yardage on No. 8, and I just tugged it. It’s not the way I wanted it to end, but I was glad to be a part of it.” – Jayne Pardus, on her record 26-hole loss

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of content for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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