Lara Tennant, Ina Kim-Schaad, Rachel Kuehn (USGA/Annika Foundation photos)
If longevity is one of the greatest parts about this game, then there was perhaps no better week to illustrate it than this past one. Over the course of seven days in two countries, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, Women’s Senior British Amateur and the Annika Intercollegiate played out, resulting in three very different yet very deserving winners. Here are the important takeaways:
SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A BREAK
: Nearly 20 years have passed since Ina Kim-Schaad was runner-up, as a 16-year-old, at the 2000 U.S. Girls’ Junior. What she failed to get done that day against Lisa Ferrero, she finished on Sept. 19, 2019 at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz.
This was just Kim-Schaad’s third start in the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur. She played college golf for Northwestern but chose a career in business over one in golf.
In fact, the golf clubs went away for more than 10 years after Kim-Schaad earned that diploma. It was a necessary break to get back to this point.
“Just disinterested, honestly,” Kim-Schaad said of her time off from the game. “I kind of had closed that chapter of the book, and I kind of moved on. I was doing so many other things with my life, and then I met Ian, my husband now, and he was the one who kind of got me back interested in it. It happens very quickly, it really does. The first few birdies and then, you know, you're hooked again.”
Once a competitor, always a competitor. Kim-Schaad’s game has maybe never been better.
AGE IS TRULY JUST A NUMBER
: Speaking of players whose games have continued to rise, lump Lara Tennant into that category, too. The 52-year-old’s title defense at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur was impressive, but to follow it up with the Women’s Senior Amateur title in Wales barely three weeks later is unheard of.
Truly, no one else has ever done it. The last U.S. winner of the R&A-conducted Women’s Senior, then known as the Senior Ladies’ British Amateur, was Toni Wiesner in 1997. Wiesner did not precede it with a U.S. Senior Women’s Am victory.
The more details you read about Tennant’s past month, the more impressive it gets. The trip to Wales was only her second time in Europe, and her first since being a member of the University of Arizona women’s golf team in the 1980s. She had to erase a two-shot deficit just to get to the playoff that eventually ended in her favor at Royal St. David’s.
“This is incredible and it’s an amazing feeling to win both the British and U.S. titles in the same year,” Tennant told the R&A after winning on the third extra hole. “I hope to be back in the UK next year to defend the title at Ashridge. I have had a great week and the weather could not be better. I decided to return to the sport after raising five children and I am having a great time playing golf.”
Tennant, a Portland, Ore., native, cut short her prep for the U.S. Women’s Senior in order to help with freshman move-in for her youngest daughters, who happen to be twins. One went to Boston College in the run-up to that event, while the other moved in to Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., during the Women’s Mid-Am.
Never underestimate the power of a mom to multitask, and to do it extremely well.
GIVING BACK CAN SCRATCH THE ITCH, TOO
: If there’s a voice in this game that young women should believe when it comes to taking advice, then that voice belongs to Kim-Schaad. The 36-year-old, who works in finance, also serves on the Metropolitan Golf Association’s board as a junior chair.
“I help with the direction of what we're going to do with the junior program and I run one of the team junior tournaments every year,” Kim-Schaad said. “It's actually really fun. It's New York versus Philly and Boston in a three-way match and we get to pick the team. I get to travel with the girls for an overnight trip to do this match play tournament, and it's just super fun.”
Kim-Schaad hopes the love of golf sticks in the 14- to 18-year-olds she has met through her work with the Met Golf Association. Even if they don’t play in college, as she did, Kim-Schaad preaches the importance of knowing the game for life.
“For me, I worked for, you know, 10 years out of school without pretty much hitting a golf club, twice or three times a year, if that,” she said. “I regret that. I think for me personally, I needed that time away to re-find my passion for golf. A lot of these girls, if they are not burnt out or anything like that, then for them to be able to play their whole life and at 25 be able to play in the Mid-Am, things like that, it's so cool.”
Quotes from the USGA and R&A used in this report
GOLF: IT'S IN YOUR BLOOD
: Rachel Kuehn became the first Wake Forest freshman to win in her college debut when she claimed the Annika Intercollegiate title by five shots on Sept. 18. Interestingly, she didn’t qualify for the team’s first fall start at the Cougar Classic, but she more than made up for it.
Kuehn is an interesting specimen, given that she now holds another record: She and her mother, All-American and Wake Forest Hall of Famer Brenda Corrie Kuehn (a 1986 graduate), become the first Wake Forest mother-daughter duo to each have earned medalist honors at a collegiate event.
The Kuehn family tree is full of athletes (just take a look at Kuehn’s bio
), but like her mother, Rachel chose golf. We caught up with her for a Q&A session to find out a little more about her road to Wake Forest.
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FIVE QUESTIONS WITH…
Wake Forest freshman Rachel Kuehn.
What was it about Royal Golf Club (site of the Annika) that you liked or that suited you?
I think the course set up well for me because it set up pretty tight and the greens were firm. I ended up shooting pretty low this week so it definitely worked to my advantage. I think our entire team felt that way. I think we felt that it set up well, the drills that coaches have us doing during practice really worked to our benefit. We do a lot of dispersion drills and lag putts and position putts, stuff like that. I think those all kind of correlated on the course and we were able to get the win because of it.
You won individually but also as a team. A month in, what’s the best part of playing as part of a college team?
It’s definitely a big transition from high school because I didn’t even have a team so it’s so much fun to be able to practice with some really great girls. We laugh all the time at practice, but at the same time we work hard. We really find a nice balance, and we definitely push each other and challenge each other to get better and work harder in practice. … I think the chemistry we have this year, we all mesh really well. I think that definitely showed on the course this week.
Annika Sorenstam is on site and traditionally very involved during her namesake tournament. What did she have to say after the win?
She actually wasn’t there after the final round but I talked to her in between rounds. All the players were impressed and I know our team was talking about her at breakfast one day. She’s done so much for women’s golf and junior golf, she’s accomplished so much. It would be really easy for her to sit back and reap the rewards of what she’s accomplished but instead she gives back to the game in countless ways.
Speaking of role models, you and your mom are now the first mother-daughter duo to have won titles for Wake Forest women’s golf. What’s your golf relationship with her?
She has been everything for my golf game. She was the one who introduced me to it at a really young age. Our relationship has matured in so many ways. She really is my mentor. We don’t really talk about the technical side of golf – the swing and the putting stroke, that’s not really how we work and we both know that. It’s more of course management, how to handle yourself on the course, how to handle adversity. She’s really been so influential in my game in that sense. It’s funny, we were joking this summer – she was taking me to a tournament and we didn’t seem to be clicking very well. We changed some things and at another tournament, we finally figured it out. Of course we’re both really competitive, but we’ve been able to put that competitive drive aside and just see each other as a team because in the end, she’s my mother and I know she wants the best for me. We’ve become so much closer because of golf.
Looking at your bio, the Kuehn family does all the sports. Your mom aside, you picked golf and that’s your thing. Why golf?
The summer before I started eighth grade, I was playing competitive tennis and competitive golf and my mom sat me down and said, ‘If you want to play one in college, you’re going to have to pick one this summer.’ I thought about it and shed some tears over it and ultimately came to the conclusion that I thought I would have more opportunity to play college golf. From that point forward, I just committed myself to practicing way more tennis than golf. … When I was looking at colleges, obviously my mom was an unbelievable player and accomplished so much at Wake Forest, and for that very reason I told her, ‘Mom, I’m very sorry but I’m never going to Wake Forest. I don’t want to go and be your daughter.’ She’s like, ‘That’s fine, that’s fine.’ But you know, Coach (Dianne) Dailey and Coach (Kevin) Diaz, who were there at the time, came to watch me play and she’s like OK, out of courtesy, why don’t you go take a visit. I’m like OK, but just know I’m never coming here. Anyway, I stepped on campus and it was one of those stories where you step on campus and you just know it’s the place for you. That was the feeling I got.
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CURTIS CUP ON THE (DISTANT) HORIZON
: It seems as if one Cup is hardly over but already it’s time to think about the next one. With Walker Cup hysteria having wrapped up, earlier this month, the R&A has announced its initial candidates for the 2020 Curtis Cup, to be played June 12-14 at Conwy Golf Club in Wales.
That list includes:
Hannah Darling, Scotland
Annabell Fuller, England
Lily May Humphreys, England
Hazel MacGarvie, Scotland
Julie McCarthy, Ireland
Shannon McWilliam, Scotland
Olivia Mehaffey, Ireland
Emily Toy, England
Isobel Wardle, England
Annabel Wilson, Ireland
Humphreys, McWilliam, Fuller and Mehaffey were all members of the 2018 squad that lost the matches at Quaker Ridge in New York.
On the U.S. side, only one woman has earned a guaranteed spot at this point (should she choose to accept it), and that’s Stanford senior Andrea Lee. The two-time Curtis Cupper, whose all-time record in the matches stands at 3-2, earned an automatic pick by winning the Mark H. McCormack medal earlier this summer as the top-ranked female in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
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TOURNAMENTS TO WATCH
Asia-Pacific Amateur, Sheshan GC, Shanghai, China, Spet. 26-29
This initiative, supported by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, R&A and Augusta National Golf Club, identifies up-and-comers in the Asia-Pacific region and rewards the winner with several opportunities throughout the course of the following year, not the least of which is an invitation to the Masters.
Nike Golf Collegiate, Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, North Plains, Ore., Sept. 29-Oct. 1
This year’s event moves from Texas back to Nike country – i.e., Oregon. The best teams will still show up for a tournament that’s considered a can’t-miss for some of the nation’s top programs.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From logo to reality
Australian Lukas Michel became the first international player to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur in the event’s 39-year history. That earns him an exemption into the 2020 U.S. Open to be played at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
“Well, I wore a Winged Foot sweater for the first nine holes today. I played there last year. Just a casual round with a member, someone I knew. So, I guess I got an early look at the course there. I mean, that’s unbelievable. I mean, many, many golfers, the best in the world, don’t get the opportunity to play a major, let alone the U.S. Open. Can’t wait.”
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TWEET OF THE WEEK: A big week in women’s golf, chronicled in photos
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TRIP OF THE
WEEK YEAR: Stanford’s women adventure to Scotland