Higgins Medalist at U.S. Women's Senior
Hot Springs, Va. – Joan Higgins, 53, of Glendora, Calif., fired a 2-under-par 68 for a 36-hole total of 142 to earn medalist honors in the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at the 5,515-yard, par-70 Cascades Course of The Homestead.
Higgins chipped in twice and made only two bogeys in her round of 68, the lowest score of the championship. She edged Anna Schultz of Rockwall, Texas, who shot 73-72—145, by three strokes. Carolyn Creekmore of Dallas, Texas, finished third in stroke-play qualifying with a score of 147.
Higgins, Schultz and Creekmore are all USGA champions. Higgins was 52 when she won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur last year and became the oldest to win that championship. Schultz won the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur in 2007 and Creekmore won in 2004.
Higgins was one stroke behind Schultz when she teed off on the 10th hole, her first hole of the day. She made a lone birdie on the back nine, hitting a wedge to within four feet of the hole at the 14th. When she made the turn, she caught fire. At the first hole, she was over the green facing a downhill chip shot out of heavy rough. She holed it for a birdie. At the second, she faced a 20-foot chip from the left fringe. She holed it for another birdie. A 15-foot putt for a birdie at the seventh capped off a final-nine score of 32, and she posted a 68.
“I don’t hit it very far and my short game carried me through the round,” Higgins said. “I got it up and down six times today, including the two chip-ins.”
Higgins was far from confident when the competition began Saturday. Two mediocre practice rounds worried her.
“On Friday I thought I wouldn’t make the cut,” she said. “By the end of her round Sunday, however, she had recorded her lowest score in a USGA championship.”
Schultz finished earlier with a 72 for 145, having straightened out her driver. She birdied the eighth, ninth and 17th holes.
“I feel good about it,” said Schultz. “I’m hitting it well and I understand these greens a lot more. In match play I can attack these flagsticks a little more.”
Following 36 holes of stroke play, the low 64 scorers advanced to match play. The cut came at 162, 22 over par, with seven players playing off for four spots. Three spots were determined and the final spot will be filled in a playoff Monday morning.
The cut tied the record set last year for the lowest numeric cut since the championship went to match play in 1997. In relation to par, however, the cut was 22 over par, two strokes higher than the record.
In Monday’s opening round of match play, Higgins will face the winner of a playoff between Karen Brannon and Claudia Cenko for the last spot in match play. Schultz will play Kim Kaul of Boston, N.Y., and Creekmore plays Kate Johnson of Sleepy Hollow, Ill.