ANN ARBOR Mich. (Sept. 10, 2008) – Joan Higgins, 52, of Glendora, Calif., and Lynn Simmons, 40, of Phoenix, Ariz., each won two matches to advance to Thursday’s scheduled 18-hole final of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Barton Hills Country Club, a 6,189-yard, par-72 Donald Ross design.
Higgins, a quarterfinalist in 2007, won her semifinal match in 21 holes over Lynne Cowan, 45, of Davis, Calif., by chipping in for birdie on the 409-yard, par-4 third hole.
Higgins, a four-time winner of the Women’s Southern California Golf Association Tournament of Champions, pulled her 5-wood shot into the greenside rough 20 feet from the hole
“I just got up and hit and tried not to think what was happening and what it was for,” said Higgins, the mother of two teenagers. “I hit and it went in. I got lucky.”
Neither player led by more than one hole in the closely contested match and Higgins didn’t lead at all until the 14th hole.
Simmons, meanwhile, won the first hole against Noreen Mohler, 54, of Bethlehem, Pa., and never trailed in beating the 1975 U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist, 2 & 1.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Simmons, who owns a personal training business. “Playing in all these USGA events, it’s a dream come true. I can’t express how excited and happy I am. It’s a lifetime dream.”
Higgins, who is using Ken Hartmann, the Golf Association of Michigan’s director of Rules and competitions, to caddie, believes the better putter will win.
“I’m starting to like the greens,” Higgins said. “A lot of it is pace. They don’t go in the side door here very often. You’ve got to get them in the front.”
Simmons, who admitted she struggled with putting in stroke play, has found a comfortable feel.
“It’s finally clicking.” Simmons said. “I’m taking a lot of extra time to practice with these greens, which are very subtle.”
The finalists, both playing in their seventh Women’s Mid-Amateur, coincidentally played together in the stroke-play portion of the championship.
“We became fast friends,” Higgins said of Simmons. “Before we teed off this afternoon, we said: ‘See you tomorrow.’ I just got a big hug. It will be a great match.”
In the Wednesday morning quarterfinals, Higgins defeated 2004 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Carolyn Creekmore, 56, of Dallas, Texas, 5 & 4. Simmons defeated 2001 finalist Mina Hardin, 48, of Fort Worth, Texas, 4 & 3.
Quarterfinalists are exempt from qualifying for the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur at Golden Hills Golf and Turf Club in Ocala, Fla., Oct. 3-8.
The Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
--Story written by Pete Kowalski, USGA