Familiar Grounds: Port In Medalist Running September 25, 2010 By Ken Klavon

Three-time U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Ellen Port has zero three-putts through her first two rounds. (Steven Gibbons/USGA

Wichita, Kan. – Being a USGA medalist never gets old for three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Ellen Port.

Port, 49, of St. Louis, was vying to become medalist for the fourth time in the championship after shooting a 1-over-par 73 Sunday in the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 24thU.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. With a two-day score of 146, she was just one shot behind first-round leader Alexandra Casi, 26, of East Palestine, Ohio. Casi, however, had an afternoon tee time at the 6,209-yard par 72 Wichita Country Club course.

Other early leaders in the clubhouse were two-time winner Meghan Stasi , 32, of Oakland Park, Fla., with a 2-over 74 for a 147 total and Canada’s Patti Hogeboom, 26,  and Carol Robertson, 27, of Virginia Beach, Va., both of whom were tied at 150.

Incidentally, the last player to earn medalist honors and win in the same year was Port, in 2000.  And only two times in the history of the championship has a player been the medalist and won in the same year.

No. No, no. There’s no advantage for being medalist, said the extroverted Port.

But don’t get her wrong, winning a medal still has an aura about it.

I love those medals, said Port. The USGA medals are so pretty.

Port plays so sporadically throughout any given year – four times, to be exact – that in some ways she’s reinventing the wheel each time she goes out to play. She spends most of her time as a teacher and coach at John Burroughs High School in St. Louis.

With temperatures dropping 20-plus degrees from Saturday, Port was one of many players trying to stay warm with ski caps while navigating the William H. Diddel design. Port’s second round was a virtual carbon copy of the first. Yet there were two statistics that pleased her most: she never had a three-putt over the two days and recorded five one-putts Sunday.

If you would have told me – you have got to be kidding – that I would have no three-putts, I would have laughed and taken it, said Port, who never put her ball in any bunkers over the two days.

Even more impressive, Port rarely put herself in position where she had to make any long birdie putts. Of the three she carded in the second round, all were 8 feet or closer to the hole. She indicated that in the first round she had no birdie attempts that were longer than 12 feet.

Speaking of work on the greens, Robertson (4-over 76) intimated that the championship will come down to putting. She learned that the hard way when she bogeyed the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th holes. Robertson wound up playing 21 holes Sunday because of a two-hour delay due to inclement weather Saturday.

There are lots of birdies to be had, said Robertson, who had six bogeys in all in the second round. If you’re hitting fairways, there is a great chance for birdies.

Hogeboom shot 2-over 74, thanks in large part to 14 pars, in her second round. For the Kingston, Ontario, native the cool weather wasn’t a factor.

You adapt, she said of growing up playing golf in Canada. It doesn’t stay hot for very long.

After the second round of stroke play concludes Sunday evening, the field will be reduced to 64 players for match play. The first round of match play is scheduled for Monday, followed by the second and third rounds on Tuesday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, and the 18-hole final will take place Thursday.

The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

 Story written by Ken Klavon, web editor for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at kklavon@usga.org.