Month: August 2019

Tennant repeats as U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion

When Lara Tennant (right) arrived at Cedar Rapids Country Club to begin her title defense in the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, a repeat performance was not on her radar.

“When I shot 70 in the first round of stroke play, I said I’m so glad I played OK, so that people won’t think my victory was a fluke,” said Tennant, 52, of Portland, Ore.

Tennant backed up her 2018 triumph in remarkably similar fashion: she earned the No. 5 seed in stroke play (No. 10 last year), then marched through the bracket, ultimately meeting her co-finalist from last year, Sue Wooster of Australia, and prevailing by the exact same 3-and-2 margin on Thursday morning. But it was not a repeat performance in golf terms.

“This week, my swing wasn’t as crisp as it was last year,” said Tennant. “There were times I was confident this week and I played well, but I would say mentally you just have to grind it out, play against par instead of your opponent. That’s what I continued to do throughout the week, to stay calm.”

Tennant lost the second hole after a poor drive, but she rebounded to win No. 4 with a par and took her first lead of the day when she parred the 183-yard par-3 eighth hole after Wooster found the water with her tee shot for a double bogey. Wooster then missed three consecutive fairways, and Tennant captured both the 10th and 11th holes with pars to Wooster’s bogeys to take firm control.

“You know what? Sue is a tough competitor and a fabulous golfer,” said Tennant, who played at the University of Arizona. “Last year I honestly apologized to Sue for beating her because at this point in the game, when you’ve played 10 rounds in eight days you’re both exhausted, you both worked hard, you both played well. I really had to not be distracted and just focus on my game. You don’t get many opportunities to be in the finals of a USGA championship.”

Wooster, who won three matches on the 18th hole, including her quarterfinal and semifinal wins on Wednesday, cut into the lead on the par-4 13th when she made a gritty up-and-down and Tennant three-putted. Leading 2 up, Tennant got a crucial break on the next hole. With both players on the plateau green of the par-4 14th in two, Tennant hit the flagstick with her putt from 45 feet away, with the ball stopping a few inches from the hole. Had it not hit the stick, it would have rolled several feet past.

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The Rematch: 2018 Finalists Tennant, Wooster Return at CRCC

Defending champion Lara Tennant (pictured above), of Portland, Ore., and Sue Wooster, of Australia, will square off in consecutive years for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. Both won a pair of matches on Wednesday at Cedar Rapids Country Club: Tennant in comfortable fashion, while the 2018 runner-up Wooster survived two nail-biters that went to the final green.

This is the first time in 58 playings of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur that the finalists from the previous year will meet again in the championship match. Tennant defeated Wooster, 3 and 2, last October at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla. The last time the same two players met in back-to-back USGA finals was in 2013-14, when Julia Potter-Bobb and Margaret (Shirley) Starosto played in U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur finals, with Potter-Bobb winning the first and Starosto the second.

Tennant, the No. 5 seed, topped No. 13 Lynne Cowan, of Rocklin, Calif., 5 and 4, in the morning quarterfinals, and No. 24 seed Patricia Ehrhart, of Honolulu, Hawaii, 4 and 2, in the afternoon semifinals. Ehrhart, 53, was playing in her third USGA semifinal since 2016, but was unable to dent Tennant, who won holes 2-3 with birdies and played even-par golf in winds that gusted to 25 miles an hour on the 5,732-yard, Donald Ross-designed layout.

“The wind was swirling, so it was even difficult to predict which direction it was going, so club selection was tough,” said Tennant, who improved to 11-1 in match play in three years of this championship and once again had her father, George Mack Sr., as her caddie. “But I think we did a pretty good job of it.”

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2018 Runner-up Wooster Leads Quarterfinal Charge

Sue Wooster, of Australia, the runner-up last year to Lara Tennant, posted a pair of match-play victories in breezy conditions on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinal round of the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids Country Club (pictured above).

Wooster, the No. 34 seed, edged No. 2 seed and three-time champion Ellen Port, 1 up, in the morning Round of 32, then held off Tara Fleming, of Jersey City, N.J., 2 and 1, in the afternoon Round of 16 after building an early 4-up lead.

“It was a real battle in the morning; to beat Ellen Port, I’m just stoked,” said Wooster, 57, of Lysterfield, a suburb of Melbourne. “She’s got game, you know? I played good again this afternoon, and Tara played some good golf to catch me back to 2 up. I got it up and down on 16 and 17 to halve those holes, so that was nice. I’ve got the speed of the greens down; hopefully that will last.”

Port led, 1 up, through 16 holes in the morning, but Wooster took the par-4 17th and 18th holes. No. 18, a green that has given the players fits this week, proved to be decisive as Port four-putted from a precarious spot above the hole after hitting the green in regulation to lose to Wooster’s bogey.

“I’m not sure if I’m over last year,” said Wooster of her 3-and-2 loss to Tennant at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, Fla., last October. “I’m just taking one step at a time, but I’ve got a chance. I feel pretty proud of myself for getting this far and that gives me some confidence going forward.”

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Defending champion, 7 Other USGA Champs Into Round of 32 at CRCC

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 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.

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Brown takes home third Briarwood Amateur title

Iowa Golf Hall of Famer Jon Brown (pictured above) rewrote the history books on Sunday, becoming the first player to win the Briarwood Amateur three times.

Brown sat one back heading into Sunday, where he separated himself from the field with a round of 66 (-6) that included eight birdies. His weekend total of 136 (-8) was two clear of Runner-Up Scot Cook, of Van Meter, who posted back-to-back rounds of 69 (-3) to finish at 138 (-6). J.D. Anderson, of Johnston, was going for the three-peat, but finished third with a (-2) total of 142 for the tournament.

In the Senior Division, the tournament came down to the wire, with Greg Kramer, of Urbandale, defeating Curtis Holck, of Ankeny, in a sudden-death playoff.

Kramer went low on Saturday, posting a score of 69 (-3) to give him the lead going into Sunday. Kramer followed up his 69 with a round of 74 (+2). After a few hiccups on 10 and 11, Kramer finished his final 7 holes two-under in order to hang onto a share of the lead and force a playoff with Holck at 143 (-1). Holck followed up his 73 (+1) on Saturday with a round of 70 (-2) on Sunday, jumpstarted by his eagle on the fourth. Kirk Macumber, of Winterset, shot a weekend total of 144 (E) to finish in third place.

In the Super Senior Division, Rob Christensen, of Marshalltown, and Jim Campbell, of Albia, duked it out in a playoff, with Christensen coming out on top.

Christensen played consistently, with a pair of 74’s that yielded him a 148 (+4) total. Campbell was the leader heading into Sunday after an even par round of 72, and ended up in a tie after his round of 76 tied Christensen’s 148 (+4) total. Stephen Larson, of Polk City, finished in third place and four back from the leaders with a weekend total of 152 (+8).

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U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur moves on to match play

Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., who is competing in her 71st USGA championship, shot a second-round 73 on Sunday for a 36-hole total of 1-under-par 143 to earn stroke-play medalist honors in the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids Country Club (pictured above).

Leach, 57, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, edged Ellen Port and Mary Ann Hayward of Canada by two strokes for the No. 1 seed in match play, which begins on Monday. Port, of St. Louis, Mo., a seven-time USGA champion, and Hayward, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, completed two rounds at 1-over 145. It was Leach’s first medalist honor in her 71 USGA championships—and while it’s a proud accomplishment, it’s sometimes seen as unlucky.

“I’m not low, am I?” Leach joked after she completed her round, in which she played with Hayward and 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, who finished alone in fourth place at 2-over 146. “Nobody really wants it. My compadres today were hoping that I got it and they didn’t get it.”

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Iowa well represented at U.S. Senior Amateur Championship

The state of Iowa will have a total of four competitors at this year’s U.S. Senior Amateur to be played at Old Chatham Golf Club, Durham, NC (pictured above).

The 65th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship will be contested Aug. 24-29 at Old Chatham Golf Club, with 156 of the best players 55 years of age and older competing to have their named engraved on the Frederick L. Dold Trophy.

Representing Iowa will be Gene Elliot (West Des Moines), Joe Palmer (Norwalk), Mike McCoy (Norwalk) and Sam Billmeyer (Ankeny).

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Elliott captures fourth Iowa Senior Amateur title, Campbell wins Super Senior crown

With rounds of 66-68-71 (-11) West Des Moines’ Gene Elliott captured his fourth (2014, 2016, 2017, 2019) Iowa Senior Amateur title. Elliott made 16 birdies and an eagle over the 54-hole event staged at Mason City Country Club.

“I putted very well all week,” Elliott said. “These greens are small and difficult. They have a lot of slope on them. I wedged the ball really well. I hit wedges to a foot about six time this week. It’s a tight, tricky golf course. It’s a lot of fun to play. Today’s round was difficult, as the wind was blowing. I got off to a hot start the first two days and just tried to hang on from there.”

Lineville’s Jay Gregory, who would ultimately finish runner-up to Elliott, put up a good fight. Gregory posted rounds of 66-70-71 (-9) over the three days, including 13 birdies in 54 holes. Elliott praised Gregory for this play and determination.

“Jay is a great competitor,” Elliott said. “He’s a good friend (too) and he’s tough. I got up four (strokes) today and it didn’t phase him a bit. He fought right back and got within one with six holes to play. I love playing with him and you’ll be seeing a lot more of him.”

Norwalk’s Joe Palmer finished in third place at -6 for the championship.

“It felt like the FedEx Cup trying to chase these guys down,” Palmer said after the round with a smile.

In the Super Senior Division Jim Campbell (pictured right), of Albia, held off a charging Rob Christensen, of Marshalltown, to win by four shots. Campbell posted rounds of 70-71-76 (+1) and made made a total of eight birdies and an eagle over his 54-hole victory.

Fort Dodge’s Dave Sergeant and Fort Madison’s Jim Butler tied for third place with a three-day total of 223 (+7).

Fine play – Jack Peacock, of Cedar Rapids, who is 79 years old, twice beat and shot his age once, shooting scores of 74-74-79 to finish in 7th place in the Super Senior set.

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Elliott pulls into the lead at 41st Iowa Senior Amateur Championship

Gene Elliott, of West Des Moines, will take a two shot lead into tomorrow’s final round of the 41st Iowa Senior Amateur Championship at Mason City Country Club (pictured above). Elliott, who captured the 2014, 2016 and 2017 Iowa Senior Amateur title, posted 68 (-4) today to enter the final round at -10, two clear of Jay Gregory (-8), of Lineville.

Gregory shot 70 (-2) in the second round and will look to chase down Elliott in the final round. Elliott’s second round included six birdies, featuring four in a row, and an eagle. Gregory and Elliott have locked horns in the past in the Iowa Senior Amateur – in 2014 at Ames Golf & CC won by Elliott as mentioned.

Norwalk’s Joe Palmer is in third, at -3 for the championship.

Hole in One – Polk City’s Brian Verduyn (right) made an ace on #5 during the second round. Verduyn’s 68 was one of the lower scores of the day (Boonville’s Bret Taylor shot 67).

In the Super Senior Division Jim Campbell, of Albia, leads by six over Marshalltown’s Rob Christensen. Campbell, who sits at -3 after 36 holes, made two birdies and an eagle in his second round at Mason City CC.

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Elliott, Gregory set pace at 41st Iowa Senior Open with 66

West Des Moines’ Gene Elliott and Lineville’s Jay Gregory set a torrid pace to begin the 41st Iowa Senior Amateur Championship at Mason City Country Club (pictured above). Both players posted 66 (-6) in the opening round.

Gregory, who played in the morning wave, made eight birdied to go against two bogeys. Elliott, who played in the afternoon, made a total of seven birdies and only a lone bogey during this round. Jon Brown (69), of Adel, sits three shots back of the lead. Brown and Gregory were in the same group and provided plenty of fireworks throughout the day.

In the Super Senior Division Jim Campbell, of Albia, leads by one over Marshalltown’s Rob Christensen after a round of 70 (-2). Campbell’s round included four birdies.

The field will be cut to will be a cut to the low 60 and ties and include all those within 10 strokes of the lead after tomorrow’s round. The breakdown of the 60 and ties will be a ratio of entries between the two divisions.

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