U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Triple Crown: Tennant Captures Third Consecutive USGA Title
September 16, 2021 | Point Clear, Ala.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Lara Tennant, of Portland, Ore., the No. 1 seed and the two-time defending champion, outlasted seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, 2 and 1, in the 18-hole final of the 59th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship Thursday on the Dogwood Course at The Lakewood Club.
Tennant, who won this championship in 2018 and 2019 (the 2020 championship was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), had a 1-up lead when the final resumed on Thursday morning, after drenching rains from Tropical Storm Nicholas postponed the match with just two holes completed the previous day. The course played to 5,491 yards and a par of 71 on Thursday, with the par-4 fourth hole playing as a par 3 due to course conditions.
“I love that trophy; it’s so beautiful, and it’s been at my house for quite a while, because of COVID and winning the two previous years, so I’ve gotten kind of attached to it,” said Tennant, 54, at the post-match ceremony. “It’ll go in the front entry, where it’s been now for three years, as a beautiful reminder of how lucky I am.”
The triumph makes Tennant the 12th player in USGA history to win a championship at least three consecutive times. Carol Semple Thompson, who won this championship four times in a row (1999-2002), is the last to do so in any championship. Thompson competed this week, but missed the cut by two strokes at age 72.
Tennant played like she didn’t want to relinquish the trophy, affectionately dubbed “Big Bertha,” as she birdied the fourth and fifth holes and barely missed making a third straight birdie on No. 6 that would have given her a 3-up advantage. But Port answered with her own birdie on No. 7 and won the ninth when Tennant found the water with her approach shot on the 346-yard par 4 and made double bogey.
|+-Lara Tennant||2018-2019, 2021||U.S. Senior Women's Amateur|
|Willie Anderson||1903-05||U.S. Open|
|Glenna Collett||1928-30||U.S. Women's Amateur|
|^-Carolyn Cudone||1968-72||U.S. Senior Women's Amateur|
|Beatrix Hoyt||1896-98||U.S. Women's Amateur|
|Juli Inkster||1980-82||U.S. Women's Amateur|
|Carl Kauffmann||1927-29||U.S. Amateur Public Links|
|Hollis Stacy||1969-71||U.S. Girls' Junior|
|*-Alexa Stirling||1916, 1919-20||U.S. Women's Amateur|
|Carol Semple Thompson||1999-2002||U.S. Senior Women's Amateur|
|Virginia Van Wie||1932-34||U.S. Women's Amateur|
|U.S. Junior Amateur
+-No U.S. Senior Women's Amateur conducted in 2020 due to COVID-19
*-No U.S. Women's Amateur conducted in 1917 or 1918 due to World War I
^-U.S. Senior Women's Amateur conducted at 54 holes of stroke play
It was Port who blinked on the back nine, however. With the match tied, she missed the green with a wedge approach on the par-5 12th, then came up short of the green on the par-4 14th, ending up in the penalty area. A pair of routine two-putt pars on those holes by Tennant restored her 2-up lead, and the players traded bogeys on No. 15 (Port three-putted and Tennant failed to get up and down) and pars on No. 16 and 17, securing the three-peat for Tennant.
For Port, it was a second defeat in a USGA championship final against seven victories, most recently in the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. The other defeat came in the 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, to Kathy Hartwiger, who reached the quarterfinals this week.
“I was hoping to finish it off, but Lara had other plans,” said Port. “The other time I lost in a final, it was a silent 11-hour car ride home. I’ve matured since then, but I want to apologize to [husband/caddie] Andy in case I’m a little quiet. He carried my bag and was my support through all this.”
“When I won my first one, it was for my dad [George Mack, Sr.],” said Tennant, who played at the University of Arizona. “The second one [in 2019 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa] my husband Bob was able to be there and I won that one for him. This one, I won for my mom [Jan McHugh].”
Tennant’s father caddied for her through the semifinals this week but was unable to stay through the delayed final match. Daniel Alldredge, the 12-year assistant pro at Lakewood, caddied for her the final day.
“Ellen Port is one of the greatest USGA champions of all time,” said Tennant. “I don’t know how to describe her to people because she has everything. She has tremendous skill, a tremendous mind on the golf course, and I feel fortunate to call her a friend. I was lucky in that I was able to play just a little bit better today than she did.”
- Tennant has 18 consecutive match wins in this championship. Her last – and only – loss came in the Round of 64 in 2017, when she was medalist and No. 1 seed on her home course, Waverley Country Club. Port has a 30-6 record in her nine starts in this championship.
- Port was seeking her eighth USGA title, which would have put her in esteemed company with Jack Nicklaus and JoAnne Carner.
- Tennant receives custody of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Trophy for one year, as well as a gold medal and a 10-year exemption into this championship. She also earns a two-year exemption into the U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship and an exemption into the 2021 and 2022 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs – this year’s Women’s Mid-Am is scheduled for Sept. 25-30 at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C. – and the 2022 and 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateurs.
- Port receives a silver medal and a three-year exemption into this championship as well as an exemption into the 2021 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open and the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
- The next two U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs will be played at Anchorage (Alaska) Golf Course (July 30-Aug. 4, 2022) and Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2023).
- Lara Tennant and Carol Semple Thompson are the only medalists to have won this championship in the match-play era, which began in 1997. Thompson did so in 2002, the last of her four straight wins.
“I knew that Ellen would get off to a very strong start, she would be fast out of the gates. I told myself that I needed to share in that intensity, and although she won the first hole, I wasn't too stressed about that. But I sort of put the pedal to the metal, and having those two birdies allowed me to calm down a little bit and just get back into my own groove.” – Lara Tennant, on her birdies on Nos. 4 and 5
“My mom [Jan McHugh] is the greatest cheerleader. She's not a golfer herself, but she raised five golfers, and she's watched a lot of golf, and she's just so supportive. She's so proud to be watching us play, regardless of the outcome.” – Tennant, who dedicated the third win in this championship to her mother
“Before the rain the course was perfect, and today, it was still pretty darn close to perfect. They worked so hard and we really appreciate that.” – Tennant, on the efforts of the Lakewood Club staff on Thursday after the course received 3.5 inches of rain over the past two days
“I love the golf community. Everybody is cheering for everybody, and it's becoming kind of global where people are just happy when people do well at any level. I've been surprised and thrilled for people paying attention to old ladies who play golf.” – Ellen Port, on the support the players received
“I really had to struggle with keeping a good attitude with putting, and you've got to believe you're going to make it, but I started really doubting myself because I just had a lot of good chances and I just didn't read them right, didn't have the speed right. That's hard when you're not putting well.” – Port, on her efforts on the greens
“Lara is such a good putter, such a good player. I knew she wasn't going to make many mistakes. We each made a bad swing. Unfortunately, mine was when we were running out of holes [on No. 14], and then I couldn't convert a putt on 15 that would have helped my cause a little bit.” – Port, on the deciding holes of the match
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of content for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Social Scene
The Lakewood Club has received significant rainfall over the last 24 hours!— USGA (@USGA) September 16, 2021
Thanks to the impressive and tireless work of the maintenance staff, the 59th #USSeniorWomensAm is still set to resume at 10 a.m. EDT 👏 pic.twitter.com/mHT2guu4Qq
Stop us if you've heard this one before...— USGA (@USGA) September 16, 2021
Lara Tennant is our #USSeniorWomensAm champion!