Terrill Samuel (USGA photo)
VERO BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 10, 2018) – For the 12-woman Canadian contingent at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, a week at Orchid Island started with a turkey dinner and all the fixings. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, so it seemed a perfect way to start the week.
Seven competitive rounds of golf later, only one of those women is still standing. Terrill Samuel, 57, took down compatriot Judith Kyrinis, the defending champion, in a hard-fought repeat of last year’s final match. Kyrinis obviously came out on top last year, but this time, Samuel was the stronger player.
Samuel, a soft-spoken blonde who wears her emotions on her sleeve during a match, was 1 down to Kyrinis for most of the front nine but rallied to go 2 up with a birdie at No. 11. Kyrinis, despite a long birdie putt at No. 15 and a brush with birdie at No. 16, could never catch back up. Facing a chip from behind the 18th green that would force extra holes, Kyrinis gave it bold shot but went long. It gave Samuel a pass forward.
“She is one of the best ballstrikers I know,” Kyrinis, 54, said of a player with whom she’s very familiar. “She was on today, and she won’t give you an inch. She doesn’t make mistakes when she’s on her game.”
After the match, Kyrinis told Samuel to make sure the trophy stays with the Canadians. That’s the general sentiment among these women. It’s country first.
From the sidelines, Marie-Therese Torti – who went down in Tuesday’s Round of 16 after suffering a wrist injury – put words to that.
“I’m pulling for a Canadian to the end,” she said. Torti had identified herself moments earlier as the woman who poured champagne on Kyrinis a year ago when she won this title.
Samuel is Canada’s last hope this week as the only one of her countrywoman to advance to the semifinals. She’s also the informal Canadian killer, after taking down a compatriot in three of the past four rounds.
“You have to be lucky as well as play good,” said Samuel, who is playing in her seventh Senior Women’s Amateur. A former teacher back home in Toronto, Samuel retired to be able to ramp up her competition schedule. She takes lessons twice a week when she is home. Samuel won the 2010 Ontario Mid-Amateur as well as the 2011 Ontario Senior. She is also a two-time Canadian Senior champion.
But a USGA champion? Well, that has a different ring to it, even for the Toronto girls.
The past year has been full of new experiences for Kyrinis – all a means of validation for her decision to pursue competitive golf now that her three children are grown. Kyrinis works as a nurse in an anesthesia clinic, preparing cancer patients for surgery.
In golf, Kyrinis is now identified as a USGA champion. Her Senior Women’s Amateur victory earned her a spot in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open this past July. She drew a pairing with Alison Nicholas and Jenny Lidback, and both competitors took notice when Nancy Lopez, announcing on the first tee, preceded Kyrnis’ name with that tidbit. In fact, they immediately congratulated her.
“I have street creds now,” Kyrinis said proudly.
That’s the feeling these women are chasing this week in Vero Beach. It’s a late-in-life opportunity to win a national championship, and to validate the hours that go into maintaining a level of competition that will bring a player to this point.
“It’s tough to be a mid-am competitive golfer,” said Kyrinis. “When I turned 50… I could see that I had some more time to give to it. And it’s just a love of the game. I love to play golf and I love to practice, to work on it. Golf is just a game – it’s all about you and push yourself.”
View results for U.S. Senior Women's Amateur
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 14.4, who will have
reached their 50th birthday on or before the
first day of the championship. It is one of 14
national championships conducted annually
by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for
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