WICHITA, Kan.(Sept. 26, 2010) – Ellen Port, 49, of St. Louis earned medalist honors Sunday at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championship, which is being held at Wichita Country Club.
Port, a teacher and coach at John Burroughs High School in St. Louis, shot a 1-over-par 73 on the 6,209-yard par-72 layout in her second round of stroke-play qualifying for a two-day total of 146. Port finished one stroke ahead of two-time champion Meghan Stasi, 32, of Oakland Park, Fla. and 28-year-old Katy Treadwell of Oklahoma City, Okla., and four ahead of Canada’s Patti Hogeboom, 26, and 27-year-old Carol Robertson of Virginia Beach, Va., both of whom were tied at 150.
First-round leader Alexandra Casi, 26, of East Palestine, Ohio, followed an even-par 72 with an 84 Sunday. Defending champion Martha Leach, 48, of Hebron, Ky., shot 85-78 and failed to make match play. A nine-for-six spots playoff dwindled to six-for-five spots; play was suspended due to darkness and the playoff will resume at 8 a.m. CDT. The first round of match play is scheduled to start at 8:15 a.m.
As it turned out, it was a record-breaking performance by the affable Port, who only plays in four tournaments a year. She set a mark for most times as medalist, with four, breaking a tie with Carol Semple Thompson.
Being a USGA medalist never gets old for Port, who stands tied with Sarah LeBrun Ingram for winning the most titles (three) in the event.
“I love those medals,” said Port, who has won 48 matches in the championship, second only to Semple Thompson’s 56. “The USGA medals are so pretty.”
She refused to believe she’s a walking bull’s-eye.
“No, no, no,” she said. “I think it’s whoever plays the best golf. … My thinking is that I just wipe the slate clean.”
Incidentally, the last player to earn medalist honors and win in the same year was Port, in 2000. And only two times in the history of the championship has a player been the medalist and won in the same year.
With temperatures dropping 20-plus degrees from Saturday, Port was one of many players trying to stay warm with ski caps while navigating the William H. Diddel design. Port’s second round was a virtual carbon copy of the first. Yet there were two statistics that pleased her most: she never had a three-putt over the two days and recorded five one-putts Sunday.
“If you would have told me – you have got to be kidding – that I would have no three-putts, I would have laughed and taken it,” said Port, who never put her ball in any bunkers over the two days.
Even more impressive, Port rarely put herself in position where she had to make any long birdie putts. Of the three she carded in the second round, all were 8 feet or closer to the hole. She indicated that in the first round she had no birdie attempts that were longer than 12 feet.
By the mid-afternoon temperatures rose to 71 degrees, but the late wave of players had to contend with an air show at McConnell Air Force Base that made the skies crackle. Competitors would stop playing and watch in awe as planes swooped in low.
“I like watching them because it takes my mind off the focus on the course,” said Treadwell laughing.
Treadwell carded three birdies that helped improve her score by three strokes from Saturday.
“I didn’t make any long putts [Sunday],” she said. “I made a couple from 5 and 6 feet that I wasn’t making yesterday.”
Speaking of work on the greens, Robertson (4-over 76) intimated that the championship will come down to putting. She learned that the hard way when she bogeyed the 12th,13th, 14th and 15th holes. Robertson wound up playing 21 holes Sunday because of a two-hour delay due to inclement weather Saturday.
“There are lots of birdies to be had,” said Robertson, who had six bogeys in all in the second round. “If you’re hitting fairways, there is a great chance for birdies.”
Hogeboom shot 2-over 74 thanks in large part to 14 pars. For the Kingston, Ontario, native the cool weather wasn’t a factor.
“You adapt,” she said of growing up playing golf in Canada. “It doesn’t stay hot there for very long.”
On Monday, the first round of match play featuring the top 64 players will take place. The second and third rounds will be played on Tuesday, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals Wednesday. The 18-hole final is scheduled for Thursday.