VIRGINIA BEACH, Virg. (Sept. 21, 2011) -- Brenda Pictor and Ellen Port, the last two stroke-play medalists at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, each posted wins Wednesday to set up a quarterfinal meeting at this year’s championship that is being conducted at 6,187-yard, par-72 Bayville Golf Club.
Pictor, a 56-year-old from Marietta, Ga., who took medalist honors this week, defeated Shawn Farmer, 2 up. Pictor fell into an early hole, finding a bunker on the par-3 second and making a double-bogey 5 to quickly fall 1 down.
“I just hit it thin out of the bunker and over the green,” said Pictor, a commercial realtor competing in her fourth Women’s Mid-Amateur. “I was just out of the hole.”
Consecutive bogeys from Farmer on the par-4 11th and 12th gave Pictor her first lead of the match. Farmer was able to square the match at the 13th, but a clutch birdie at the par-4 14th gave Pictor a lead that she never surrendered.
Three-time champion Port claimed stroke-play honors in 2010 for a record fourth time in championship history. The St. Louis native celebrated her 50th birthday with a 3-and-2 victory over 2010 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin.
Port, a former USA Curtis Cup player who is vying to become the first four-time winner of the Women’s Mid-Amateur, won the opening hole and never looked back, as she held at least a 1-up lead for the entire match. She hit every green on the outward nine except for the par-4 ninth, where a soggy lie caused her to mishit her approach shot and fly the green.
“I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens,” said Port, the champion in 1995, 1996 and 2000, and the runner-up to Kathy Hartwiger in 2002. “I rolled the ball better today, so I didn’t have a lot of long putts.”
In a battle of former Auburn University players and coaches, 1998 champion and former Tigers head coach Virginia Grimes eliminated Auburn’s current assistant coach, Margaret Shirley, 2 up.
Grimes, 47, from Meridian, Miss., swiftly built a 3-up lead over the first five holes. But the 25-year-old Shirley made a furious comeback, carding consecutive birdies at the ninth and 10th holes to square the match. She took the lead when Grimes bogeyed the par-4 12th.
Shirley’s lead, however, was short-lived. Three bogeys over the last five holes handed Grimes the victory.
“I had a spell there,” said Grimes, “and then I gathered myself on the back nine and played well.”
Grimes, a three-time USA Curtis Cup player, will next face Tara Joy-Connelly, 38, of Pembroke, Mass., who defeated Andrea Kraus, 2 up, to advance to the quarterfinals.
Martha Leach, 49, of Hebron, Ky., continued her seemingly easy roll through the match-play bracket. After 6-and-5 and 4-and-3 victories in her first two matches, Leach, the 2010 champion, again cruised to another quick 5-and-4 win over Patricia Cornett, the captain of the 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team.
Leach’s quarterfinal opponent will be 1997 Women’s Amateur runner-up Robin Burke. The 49-year-old from Houston roared back from five holes down with six to play to defeat Kathy Kurata in 19 holes.
The afternoon’s final quarterfinal match will feature Helene Beat, the 29-year-old reinstated amateur from Sylvania, Ohio, who eliminated defending champion Meghan Stasi in the second round, against 2006 Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up Thuhashini Selvaratnam, 33, of Sri Lanka. Selvaratnam, a member of Arizona’s winning team at the 2007 USGA Women’s State Team, lost to Stasi in the 2006 final.
The quarterfinal round of match play will be conducted Wednesday afternoon. The semifinals will be played Thursday morning, and the 18-hole championship match is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.