U.S. Senior Women's Am: Medalist advances

by Rhonda Glenn

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Sept. 12, 2011) –- Medalist Lisa Schlesinger and defending champion Mina Hardin advanced to the second round of match play at the 2011 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the 5,876-yard, par-72 Honors Course.

Schlesinger, 53, who has worked hard on her game, defeated Kim Cure of Iowa Park, Texas, 8 and 7.

Of the six past champions in the field, only Anna Schultz, the 2007 champion, ended her match before the 17th hole. Schultz, of Rockwall, Texas, defeated 1989 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Robin Weiss of Palm Beach, Fla., 5 and 3.

Diane Lang, a three-time winner from Jamaica, went to the sidelines when she lost a 2-and-1 encounter to Linda Pearson of Glendale, Calif.

“I feel good about playing well,” said Pearson. “I shot even par, had three birdies, and I didn’t give it away. I’m probably an underdog and I’m a lefty, but I feel good.”

Sherry Herman of Belmar, N.J., the 2009 champion, let a 4-up lead get away and lost on the 19th hole to Susan Rheney of Greensboro, Ga. Herman birdied the first, fourth and sixth holes and was 4 up at the turn, then missed three 4-foot putts in a row and handed Rheney four consecutive holes. Rheney won the match with a par on the 19th hole.

“I’m in shock,” said Rheney. “She played great and I played steady.”

The 17th hole saw each of the three remaining champions come to the tee in desperate shape. Carolyn Creekmore, the 2004 champion, squandered a 2-up lead after six holes and her match with Denise Callahan of Canton, Ohio, was all square after 17 holes. Creekmore finally won on the 18th hole, 1 up.

Hardin also struggled in her match against Mary Kay Thanos-Zordani of Chicago, who won a match play spot in a playoff. Hardin saw a 2-up lead disappear after nine holes. “It was tough,” said the 2010 champion. “She started putting lights out. I don’t ever take anybody for granted. I’ve been on the other side of the desk.”

Hardin won the 17th with a par to go 1 up and closed out her opponent on the 18th hole.

Carol Semple Thompson’s 1-up victory over Arline Hoffman of Alexandria, Va., saw Thompson lose a 3-up lead twice. Hoffmann came back after being three holes down after the fifth hole to square the match. Thompson again went 3-up at the 12th hole, but Hoffmann again squared the match by winning three holes in a row. Thompson finally won, 1 up, with a bogey on the 18th.

“I was just thinking of my own game and getting pars, and it almost didn’t work,” said Thompson.

The biggest upset of the day was when Nancy Smith of North Park, Fla., who won the 63rd match-play spot in a playoff, defeated past U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Mary Ann Hayward of Canada, 2 up. Hayward had been the second low qualifier.

“I’m so excited,” said Smith. “I didn’t think I’d get here this year and here I’ve won against one of the goliaths in the field.”

Hayward struggled with some wayward tee shots, while Smith hit her approach shots close to the flagstick and won three conceded holes. At the 14th hole, a par 3, Smith hit a fat iron shot well short of the green while Hayward was safely on the putting surface. From 25 yards, Smith nearly sank her second shot and made par. Hayward missed her putt and the hole was halved.

“I could just feel the momentum change,” said Smith.

With a 1-up edge going into the par-4 18th, Smith was 40 feet from the hole but managed to get down in two putts for a par to win the match.

ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Women's Amateur

The USGA Senior Women's Amateur is open to female golfers with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 18.4, who will have reached their 50th birthday on or before the first day of the championship. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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