Deja vu at the U.S. Sr Women's Am: Wooster, Tennant meet again
Lara Tennant (USGA photo)
Lara Tennant (USGA photo)

Defending champion Lara Tennant, of Portland, Ore., and Sue Wooster, of Australia, will square off in consecutive years for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship. Both won a pair of matches on Wednesday at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club: Tennant in comfortable fashion, while the 2018 runner-up Wooster survived two nail-biters that went to the final green.

This is the first time in 58 playings of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur that the finalists from the previous year will meet again in the championship match. Tennant defeated Wooster, 3 and 2, last October at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla. The last time the same two players met in back-to-back USGA finals was in 2013-14, when Julia Potter-Bobb and Margaret (Shirley) Starosto played in U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur finals, with Potter-Bobb winning the first and Starosto the second.

Tennant, the No. 5 seed, topped No. 13 Lynne Cowan, of Rocklin, Calif., 5 and 4, in the morning quarterfinals, and No. 24 seed Patricia Ehrhart, of Honolulu, Hawaii, 4 and 2, in the afternoon semifinals. Ehrhart, 53, was playing in her third USGA semifinal since 2016, but was unable to dent Tennant, who won holes 2-3 with birdies and played even-par golf in winds that gusted to 25 miles an hour on the 5,732-yard, Donald Ross-designed layout.

“The wind was swirling, so it was even difficult to predict which direction it was going, so club selection was tough,” said Tennant, who improved to 11-1 in match play in three years of this championship and once again had her father, George Mack Sr., as her caddie. “But I think we did a pretty good job of it.”

The key hole of their semifinal may have been No. 10, when Tennant was bunkered both off the tee and on her approach. She blasted out to 25 feet and holed the putt for par. When Ehrhart three-putted, she went 3 down, losing a hole that it appeared she might win.

Wooster, the No. 34 seed, edged both Laura Webb, of Ireland, in the morning quarterfinals and Caryn Wilson, of Rancho Mirage, Calif., in the semifinals, 1 up. In both cases, she made a par on the 320-yard 18th hole while her opponent struggled with the demanding green. Webb three-putted, while Wilson made 6 from behind the green. Wooster also defeated seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port on No. 18 in the Round of 32 on Tuesday when Port double-bogeyed the hole.

“It’s the most severe green I’ve ever played,” said Wooster, who tied for 40th in last year’s inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open. “But I did hit a nice shot in each time, underneath the hole, so that might have given me a bit of an advantage.”

When asked what she took out of last year’s final against Tennant, Wooster deadpanned, “Losing.”

“Imagine, 132 players and it comes down to us again,” said Wooster. “I’m just going to give it my all. This morning on the back nine [vs. Webb] I nearly lost that match. I went out with the attitude this afternoon that I was going to give it my all and just try and play a lot more aggressively. If I won, I won. If I didn’t, so what. I’ll be happy.”

Wilson squared the match with a par on the par-5 15th, and Wooster coaxed a comebacker in for par on No. 17 to keep the match tied before winning No. 18 for the third time.

“Last year, I felt like my game was a lot better,” said Wooster. “It’s been kind of all over the place and I just sort of play by feel. My putting has been good. It’s just amazing. Last year because I was hitting the ball really well and I was hitting lots of greens, this year just sheer determination to try and make the final again.”

Ehrhart defeated No. 48 seed Tina Barker, of Fairfield, Calif., 4 and 2, and Wilson defeated No. 3 seed Mary Ann Hayward, of Canada, 5 and 4, in their morning quarterfinal matches

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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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