by Christina Lance
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Sept 22, 2011) -– Past Women’s Mid-Amateur champions Ellen Port and Martha Leach will meet in this afternoon’s 18-hole championship match at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at 6,187-yard, par-72 Bayville Golf Club.
Three-time winner Port, 50, of St. Louis, Mo., continued her strong play during her 4-and-3 semifinal victory over reinstated amateur Helene Beat of Sylvania, Ohio. Leach faced her first true challenge of the championship, but rallied for a 19-hole win over Tara Joy-Connelly of Pembroke, Mass.
Port led for the duration, surviving a loss-of-hole penalty on the par-5 sixth hole. After her ball ended up in Beat’s line, she failed to replace her ball marker to its original position on the green before converting her par putt, a breach of Rule 20-3a.
“I was very focused and just forgot to move it back,” said Port, who is vying to win a record fourth Women’s Mid-Amateur and playing in her record sixth championship match. “I was disappointed in myself because it’s my responsibility and golf’s hard enough without giving something away.
“I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t in the back of my mind. So I made a really good putt on 8 to halve the hole and settle down.”
Until this morning’s semifinals, 2009 champion Leach had cruised through the match-play bracket. The 49-year-old from Hebron, Ky., had yet to play past the 16th green, needing an average of only 14.5 holes per match.
But Joy-Connelly gave Leach by far her toughest test. Joy-Connelly took the lead at the second hole and held it until the par-4 17th. Consecutive bogeys from Joy-Connelly sent the match to extra holes and gave Leach the chance she needed. Leach did not let the opportunity pass her by, winning the par-4 first hole with a birdie for the second championship final berth.