FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 12, 2010)– Defending champion Sherry Herman, 52, of Farmingdale, N.J., advanced to the quarterfinals of the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the 5,862-yard, par-72 Long Mean Course at Fiddlesticks Country Club.
Two former U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions also advanced. Mary Ann Hayward, 50, of Canada, the 2005 champion, and Joan Higgins, 54, of Glendora, Calif., the 2008 champion, will meet in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round after winning their third-round matches.
Herman defeated Lisa Schlesiner, 52, a hall-of-fame softball pitcher from Laytonsville, Md., 5 and 4. Herman was 1 up after the sixth, and then won three straight holes to take a 4-up lead that proved insurmountable. But it was without the help of Herman’s normally reliable putter.
“Even though I wasn’t putting like I wanted to, Lisa helped me out by not playing as well as she can,” Herman said.
Higgins defeated Robyn Puckett, 63, of Irvine, Calif., 4 and 3, to advance. Puckett was a semifinalist in 2009 but the match wasn’t as close as Higgins had predicted.
“Robyn is a good friend and it’s hard to play against a friend,” Higgins said.
Hayward breezed past seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson, 61, of Sewickley, Pa., 5 and 3. Hayward captured four of the first six holes to take a 3-up lead. Thompson won the 10th on a birdie-3, but Hayward birdied the 13th to again go 3 up. When Hayward won the next two holes, she closed out the four-time champion on the 15th green.
Hayward, Herman and Higgins are the only remaining USGA champions in a field that boasted a dozen. Three-time champion Diane Lang of Jamaica, 55, lost to Cheryl Grigg, 53, of Sea Island, Ga., on the 20th hole of their match in the morning’s second round. The 2004 champion, Carolyn Creekmore, 58, of Dallas, lost to Susan Rheney, 51, of Greensboro, Ga., in the second round, 1 up.
Claudia Pilot, 53, of Austin, Minn., won a quarterfinal berth with a 4-and-3 victory over Cindy Gilkeson, 51, of Sugarland, Texas. Pilot was a member of the winning Minnesota team in the 2001 USGA Women’s State Team Championship but has never won an individual national title.
Alexandra Frazier, 52, of Haverford, Pa., advances to the quarterfinals as the surprise of the championship. Frazier was in a playoff to capture one of the last match-play berths and upset medalist Leigh Klasse of St. Anthony, Minn., in the first round. In the second round, she defeated Connie Shorb of York, Pa., and Tuesday defeated Lea Anne Brown, 51, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., by a decisive 7-and-5 margin.
Grigg went out at the hands of Patty Moore, 60, of Charlotte, N.C., 2 up. Grigg’s march to the third round was a decidedly popular advance. She is the widow of Sea Island (Ga.) G.C. head professional John Popa, who was killed in the 1988 plane crash that also took the life of Davis Love Jr. She married S. Tucker Grigg ten years later but has competed little nationally.
“It’s such an honor to play with those players (Lang and Moore),” Grigg said. “I’ll take that forward.”
In Wednesday’s quarterfinals, Frazier faces Herman and Moore goes against Deborah Anderson, 59, of Rancho Mirage, Calif. Anderson defeated local favorite Mary Jane Hiestand of Naples, Fla., 1 up, to advance.
Higgins plays Hayward and Pilot will face Mina Hardin, 50, of Fort Worth, Texas. Hardin in 1983 became the first Mexican on the LPGA tour and was reinstated as an amateur in 1991. She defeated Rheney in the third round, 5 and 4.
The Senior Women’s Amateur concludes with a scheduled 18-hole final on Thursday. It is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs