Lara Tennant won her third straight
U.S. Senior Women's Amateur championship on Thursday (USGA)
While heavy rains in might have delayed Lara Tennant's
quest for a third straight U.S. Senior Women's Amateur championship, the Portland, Ore. native had to deal with a force arguably stronger than Mother Nature in Ellen Port
during Thursday's title match at The Lakewood Club in Point Clear, Ala.
In a much anticipated championship match between two longtime friends and rivals, Tennant won her third consecutive U.S. Senior Women's Amateur title on Thursday, defeating the seven-time USGA champion, 2 up, on Lakewood's Dogwood Course.
The finalists completed two holes on Wednesday before heavy rains from Tropical Storm Nicholas forced a postponement of the match until Thursday morning, leaving Tennant to sleep on a 1 up lead.
Minus the rain gear, Tennant and Port resumed play early Thursday morning on a soggy Dogwood Course and Port wasted no time in squaring the match with a par on the third hole.
Tennant bounced back from her bogey on the third with back-to-back birdies on the par-3 third and and par-5 fifth to take a 2-up lead, but Port evened the match at the turn with a birdie on the seventh and a par on nine.
Tennant then took advantage of Port's misfortune by winning holes 12 and 14 with pars to take a 2 up lead and control of the match. The two players halved the next three holes with Tennant closing out her longtime friend on the 17th green with matching pars.
“Ellen Port is one of the greatest USGA champions of all time,” said Tennant. “I don’t know how to describe her to people because she has everything. She has tremendous skill, a tremendous mind on the golf course, and I feel fortunate to call her a friend. I was lucky in that I was able to play just a little bit better today than she did.”
For Port, it was a second defeat in a USGA championship final against seven victories, most recently in the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. The other defeat came in the 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, to Kathy Hartwiger, who reached the quarterfinals this week.
“I was hoping to finish it off, but Lara had other plans,” said Port. “The other time I lost in a final, it was a silent 11-hour car ride home. I’ve matured since then, but I want to apologize to [husband/caddie] Andy in case I’m a little quiet. He carried my bag and was my support through all this.”
Tennant's Road to a Three-Peat
Tennant shot rounds of 72-71 (143) to earn co-medalist honors and the No. 1 seed in the match play portion of the tournament and then won six hard-fought matches to secure her third straight U.S. Senior Women's Amateur title.
After defeating Tina Baker, 2 and 1 in the round of 64, Tennant couldn't have drawn a tougher opponent in the round of 32, where she rallied from a two holes deficit to defeat former champion Judith Kyrinis
in 19 holes. It was the only one of her six matches that went the distance.
Tennant then ousted Kelley Nittoli
, 2 and 1 in the round of 16, defeated Sally Krueger
, 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals, and eliminated Susan Cohn in the semis, 2 up, to set up a heavyweight final against Port.
Dating back to her 2018 victory at the Orchid Island Golf & Beach Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., Tennant has won 18 consecutive matches in the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur. Her last – and only – loss came in the Round of 64 in 2017, when she was medalist and No. 1 seed on her home course, Waverley Country Club.
Her Place in History
With her win Thursday at The Lakewood Club, Tennant becomes the first player in 20 years to win three consecutive U.S. Senior Women's Amateurs. Carol Semple Thompson was the last golfer to achieve the feat, winning four straight from 1999-2002.
The triumph makes Tennant the 11th player in USGA history to win a championship at least three consecutive times. Thompson, who won this championship four times in a row (1999-2002), is the last to do so in any championship. Thompson competed this week, but missed the cut by two strokes at age 72.
Tennant is a four-time Oregon Senior Women’s Amateur champion and winner of the 2020 California Senior Women’s Amateur and 2019 R&A Women’s Senior Amateur Championship. She was one of seven amateurs to make the cut in the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open and finished in a tie for 29th.
The next two U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs will be played at Anchorage (Alaska) Golf Course (July 30-Aug. 4, 2022) and Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Sept. 30-Oct. 4, 2023).
The USGA contributed to this report
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
View Complete Tournament Information