FORT MYERS, Fla.(Oct. 9, 2010) – Sheilah Haynes, Joan Higgins and Brenda Pictor shot 1-over-par 73 to tie for the lead after the first round of stroke-play qualifying in the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the 5,862-yard, par-72 Long Mean Course at Fiddlesticks Country Club.
Haynes, 55, of Madison, Miss., Higgins, 54, of Glendora, Calif., and Pictor, 55, of Marietta, Ga., had a one-stroke lead over defending champion Sherry Herman of Farmingdale, N.J.; Kim Eaton of Greeley, Colo.; Mina Hardin of Fort Worth, Texas; Mary Ann Hayward of Canada; and Claudia Pilot of Austin, Minn.
The Long Mean Course lived up to its name, taking a toll among some of the most seasoned competitors. Four of the top eight players were USGA champions, but none matched par.
Higgins, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, said, “I didn’t swing great, but I put myself in the right spot and I made the putts.”
Pictor made three birdies on sliding, downhill putts ranging from 12-to-25 feet. A ball in the water hazard on the eighth hole cost her a double-bogey, but the 2010 North & South Senior champion said her work on the greens saved her round.
“No three-putts was the key to my round,” Pictor said. “The speed of my putts was fabulous.”
Haynes is playing in only her second Senior Women’s Amateur and did a little jig when informed her 73 was tied for the lead. Unlike many players who first pick up a club as toddlers, she didn’t begin to play golf until she was 27.
“I am thrilled,” Haynes said. “I didn’t keep score in my practice rounds but I probably shot 82-83. I knew I could play this golf course. If I missed greens, I got it up and down.”
Among the top finishers, other USGA champions included Hayward, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and Pilot, a member of the winning Minnesota team in the 2001 USGA Women’s State Team Championship.
Diane Lang of Jamaica, a three-time Senior Women’s Amateur champion, shot a 75. Four-time champion Carol Semple Thompson of Sewickley, Pa., a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, shot a 78.
Despite her score of 74, Herman, the defender, crippled in with a double-bogey on the 462-yard, par-5 finishing hole. The hole has an island green but Herman made the 7 without ever getting her ball wet, missing the green and going from bunker to bunker before two-putting for the double-bogey.
Stroke-play qualifying in the Senior Women’s Amateur continues on Sunday with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play. The championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday.
The Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.