Diane Lang, 51, of Weston, Fla., became the seventh golfer to win consecutive USGA Senior Women’s Amateur titles when she won the 2006 championship, 1 up, over Anna Schultz, 51, of Rockwall, Texas, at Sea Island Golf Club Thursday.
“I’m very excited to have won for a second time,” said the Jamaican-born Lang. “I was hoping that it was going to be a good week but I thought two in a row might be too much to ask for.”
In the 18-hole final match, played on a beautiful, sunny morning on Sea Island’s par-71, 5,832-yard Seaside Course, the two players remained all square until the par-4, 340-yard fifth hole, when Schultz made a 45-foot birdie putt to take a 1-up lead.
Schultz added to the lead after a 6-foot birdie putt on the seventh hole, and extended her advantage to 3 up after Lang bogeyed the eighth. It was the first time in Lang’s six matches at the 2006 championship that she had fallen behind by more than a two-hole deficit.
“I knew I had to get the lead on the front because the back is longer and she’s a long hitter,” said Schultz, the 2000 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up.
But Lang is no stranger to comebacks – she was 2 down after nine holes against seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson at the 2005 Senior Women’s Amateur at The Apawamis Club in Rye, N.Y., and came back to win on the 18th hole.
“I knew I really wanted to get one back at nine,” said Lang. “Things were not looking good and I thought, ‘I have to win this hole.’ If I didn’t win, she would probably have beaten me.”
Lang did go on to win the ninth when she made an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4, 348-yard hole. She cut the deficit again despite a bogey at the par-4 10th hole after Schultz missed her 2-foot bogey putt.
On the par-4, 348-yard 11th hole, Lang looked to be in trouble after she hit her tee shot behind a tree on the left side of the fairway. But she hit a punch shot that came to rest in the rough 30 yards short of the flagstick. With Schultz on the front of the green, Lang hit the shot of the day – rolling a perfect chip up and into the hole. After Schultz’s 40-footer for birdie lipped out, the match was all square.
“I pictured it in my mind,” said Lang. “I thought I could make it and it just came off perfect. And when I looked up, in the hole. So that was my divine intervention shot, for sure.”
But after Lang missed a 2-foot par putt on the par-3 12th hole, Schultz again had a 1-up lead, one she would hold temporarily. On the par-4, 345-yard 14th hole, Lang hit her approach shot to within three feet. After Schultz’s 4-footer for par slid by the hole, she conceded Lang’s birdie putt and the match again stood all square.
Lang finally took her first lead of the match a hole later, when she made an 18-foot birdie putt and Schultz was unable to match from eight feet. It was the first time Schultz had trailed in any of her six matches during the 2006 championship.
“I had my chances,” said Schultz, who missed just one fairway all day. “My putter got a little cold coming down the stretch on the last four holes.”
After the two traded pars on the 16th hole, Schultz’s 6-footer for birdie on the 17th slid by the hole. She had a final chance on the par-4, 390-yard 18th hole when Lang missed her 30-foot birdie putt, but missed her birdie try from 12 feet. Lang then knocked in her 2-footer for par to claim the championship for a second consecutive year.
She is the first player to win back-to-back Senior Women’s Amateur titles since Thompson, who won four consecutive titles from 1999-2002. Other players to win consecutive titles are Loma Smith (1964-64); Carolyn Cudone (1968-72); Alice Dye (1978-79); Dorothy Porter (1980-81); and Anne Sander (1989-90). Lang and Thompson are the only two to have done so since the championship switched to a match-play format in 1997.
“This is even better than the first time,” said Lang. “The match today was so tough. Anna really played beautifully.”
The USGA Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.