Tennant, Leach, Port advance at U.S. Senior Women's Am
Ellen Port (USGA photo)
Ellen Port (USGA photo)

Defending champion Lara Tennant, of Portland, Ore., rolled in a nerve-wracking 4-foot bogey putt to halve the 18th hole on Monday and seal a 1-up victory over Susan West, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club.

Tennant birdied the par-5 15th hole for a 3-up lead with three holes to play, but she was bunkered on No. 16 and three-putted No. 17 for bogeys to West’s pars, bringing the match to the uphill, 320-yard, par-4 18th. Tennant’s approach shot left her with a daunting putt from the left side of the green, and she left it 18 inches from the hole. Tennant barely tapped the sliding, sidehill putt, but it missed the hole and ended up 4 feet past. She made the comebacker for bogey to halve the hole and win, 1 up.

“It’s one of those greens that I don’t think anybody is going to figure out,” said Tennant, 52, of the closing hole on the Donald Ross-designed course. “Maybe my goal the rest of the week should be to try to finish my matches before 18.”

No. 1 seed Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., completed her opening match on the 14th hole, notching a 6-and-4 victory over Jane Curtin, of Silver Spring, Md., after earning medalist honors in stroke play for the first time in her 71 USGA championship starts.

Leach, 57, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and husband John Leach, who coaches and caddies for her, were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary on Monday. Her round got off to a nice start with wins on the first four holes, three of them with pars, and she weathered a bit of rain mid-round.

“I had a lull in the rain; I hit some bad shots,” said Leach, who was the low amateur in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open last year. “But John set me straight and I started hitting it better after that. Didn’t make any substantial putts, but it’s all good. We’re a little wet, but we’re happy.”

Seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo., the No. 2 seed, earned a solid 6-and-5 victory over fellow Missourian Kathy Glennon, of Wildwood, Mo.

“I was steady, I think I missed maybe one fairway and two greens,” said Port, 57, who has won this championship three times, most recently in 2016. “Kathy’s a really good player and we’ve played a lot of golf together. She’s not the person you want to draw because she’s a great putter, steady, a fierce competitor. But by her admission, she was a little bit out of sync.”

No. 3 seed Mary Ann Hayward, of Canada, broke away from Monica Townsend, of El Paso, Texas, by winning the ninth and 10th holes on the way to a 3-and-2 win. Hayward, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, was one of seven Canadian players to reach match play, and four of them advanced, including 2017 champion Judith Kyrinis, the No. 6 seed, who defeated fellow Canadian Audrey Akins, 4 and 3.

No. 4 seed Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, Calif., won the first four holes on the way to a 7-and-6 win over Dori Eastwood, of Lexington, Ky. Weworski, 57, is the 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a two-time quarterfinalist in this championship.

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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 amateurs.

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