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Maria de Orueta beats top seed at U.S. Senior Women's Amateur
64th seed Maria de Orueta (USGA photo)
64th seed Maria de Orueta (USGA photo)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Maria de Orueta, the 64th seed in the match-play bracket, survived a 21-hole marathon to eliminate stroke-play medalist Mary Ann Hayward during Monday’s Round of 64 at the 2015 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 5,857-yard Hillwood Country Club.

The 54-year-old de Orueta, of Spain, steadily built an early lead and held a 4-up advantage through 11 holes. But Hayward, 55, of Canada, turned the tables on the inward nine, winning holes 12-15, including birdies on 13 and 15, to square the match.

“On the second nine, she started playing golf like unbelievable,” said de Orueta, who captured the International European Seniors’ Championship in Hungary in June. “I said, what is going on here, she’s getting furious!”

Hayward and de Orueta swapped birdie putts from inside 6 feet at the par-5 17th, and the match remained all square through 18 holes. On the first two extra holes, de Orueta failed to convert putts that would have won the match. Both players struggled mightily on the third extra hole, the 551-yard, par-5 third, with de Orueta ultimately taking the victory when Hayward missed a short putt for bogey.

“We played an awful third hole,” said de Orueta, who will face 2010 Senior Women’s Amateur runner-up Jane Fitzgerald in Tuesday morning’s Round of 32. “It was just to see who was not doing so bad. But that’s golf. We had a very good match.”

This is the third time since the championship format was changed from stroke play to match play in 1997 that the 64th seed has eliminated the medalist. Patricia Ehret defeated medalist Karen Mabli by a 4-and-3 margin in 2000, while Alexandra Frazier took a 1-up win over medalist Leigh Klasse in 2010. Frazier went on to lose in the final match to Terri Frohnmayer.

Another winner today was last year’s runner-up, Judith Kyrinis, 51, of Canada, who advanced with a 1-up win over Syd Wells, 54, of Menominee, Mich. Kyrinis and Wells both led at various points in the match, with neither player able to gain more than a 2-up advantage.

Kyrinis took the lead for good when she stuffed her approach at the par-5 17th to 2 feet. Wells was a lengthy distance from the hole and ultimately made bogey to give Kyrinis the final advantage.

“It was a gimme, so she knew she had to go for it,” said Kyrinis, who was also the runner-up at this year’s Canadian Women’s Senior Championship. “We both had our opportunities and both had birdies out there that won holes, which is great. It was a good match with a good player.”

Kyrinis’ next opponent will be 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Laura Coble. Coble, 51, of Augusta, Ga., needed 19 holes to advance over Tanna Richard.

Ellen Port, 54, of St. Louis, Mo., began her quest for a seventh USGA championship with a 2-and-1 win over Lynn Thompson, 57, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Port, who has four Women’s Mid-Amateur and two Senior Women’s Amateur titles to her name, was 1 down through 11. But the match took an unexpected turn at the par-4 13th, when Port nearly pulled her tee shot out of bounds and had to hit her second shot while straddling a tree branch. Her third shot nestled 2 feet from the hole, and when Thompson missed a 6-footer for par, Port took a 1-up lead and never trailed again.

“That was huge. It looked like I was out of the hole,” said Port, who won two of the next three holes to take the victory. “I really had to pull on all my experience, thinking be patient, you’re hitting good shots.”

Should Port win this week, she would join Anne Quast Sander and Carol Semple Thompson as the only players in USGA history with seven championship wins. That is also tied for the third-most championships won overall, behind only Bob Jones and Tiger Woods with nine and JoAnne Gunderson Carner and Jack Nicklaus with eight.

Second-seeded Martha Leach, 53, of Hebron, Ky., had an early 2-up lead over Julie Massa, 52, of Holt, Mich. But Massa went on a tear, winning five consecutive holes for a 4-up lead through 10 and holding on for a 4-and-3 win.

With Hayward and Leach losing in the Round of 64, third-seeded Caryn Wilson is the highest remaining seed in the championship. Wilson, 54, of Rancho Mirage, Calif., hit all but one green en route to a 6-and-4 win over Linda DiVall, 63, of Alexandria, Va.

Two other Senior Women’s Amateur champions joined Port in reaching Tuesday’s Round of 32. The 2009 winner, Sherry Herman, 57, of Middletown, N.J., fought back from a 2-down deficit and earned a 3-and-2 win over Leilani Norman, while 2007 champion Anna Schultz, 60, of Rockwall, Texas, needed 20 holes to eliminate Gail Pimm.

Other notables to advance include first-round stroke-play leader Ginny Burkey, 60, of Eugene, Ore.; 2013 Senior Women’s Amateur runner-up Sue Cohn, 52, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and Lynda Wimberly, 56, of Brentwood, Tenn., who got into the championship as an alternate less than two hours before play began on Saturday.

View results for U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Golf Championship

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Women's Amateur

The USGA Senior Women's Amateur is open to female golfers with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 18.4, who will have reached their 50th birthday on or before the first day of the championship. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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