Hershey, Pa. – Lisa Schlesinger, 54, of Laytonsville, Md., and Ellen Port, 50, of St. Louis, Mo., both advanced to the semifinal round Wednesday morning at the 2012 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at the par-74, 6,220-yard Hershey Country Club West Course. The championship’s top two seeds took different paths to the next round.
Schlesinger defeated Brenda Pictor, of Marietta, Ga., 4 and 3, with a flawless outward nine that included a conceded eagle, a birdie and seven pars. Port had to rally against Carolyn Creekmore, of Dallas, for a 1-up decision, including a spectacular approach shot to within 6 inches for a birdie on the 18th hole.
The 2012 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play. Wednesday’s semifinals began at 12:45 p.m. EDT. The championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday, starting at 8:30 a.m.
The USGA Senior Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Schlesinger, the championship’s stroke-play medalist for the second consecutive year, won the opening three holes in her quarterfinal. She hit her second shot to within 17 feet on the par-5 first and the eagle putt was conceded after her opponent made bogey. Schlesinger made a two-putt birdie on the par-5 7th and added a par on No. 10 to take a five-hole advantage.
Now that I am here, let’s go for it, said Schlesinger, who has attained her pre-championship goal of reaching the semifinals for the second consecutive year. Let’s try and win it. I am ready to give it a shot.
Port, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, was 3 up after 11 holes thanks in part to birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. But Creekmore, the 2004 Senior Women’s Amateur titlist, won four consecutive holes, 12 through 15, with pars to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Creekmore, who was this championship’s runner-up in 2009, missed a 6-foot par putt on the par-5 16th to square the match. The players each parred No. 17 to set up the dramatic conclusion. After a perfect drive, Port used a 52-degree wedge, from 86 yards, to strike the clinching shot.
I drove the ball great and putted horribly, Port said. Golf is a battle in your mind and battling back when you are not playing well. Fortunately, I did that today.
Jane Fitzgerald, 50, of Kensington, Md., won three of the last four holes to turn back Joan Higgins, of Glendora, Calif., in their quarterfinal match, 2 up. Higgins, the 2008 Women’s Mid-Amateur winner, led from holes 3 through 14 until she suffered a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 15th. With the match all square, Fitzgerald, playing in her first USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, took advantage of the opportunity by making birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to advance.
Sometimes you can start to play the same as each other in a match, Fitzgerald said. We did that and we were both grinding, trying to make something happen, and on my end, it did.
For me, it’s just patience.
Lecia Alexander, 54, of Stafford, Texas, is in the semifinals after not getting past the first round of match play in three previous attempts. Alexander dominated the match with Julie Harrison, of Baton Rouge, La., 8 and 7, tying the largest margin of victory in a Senior Women’s Amateur match. Alexander won eight of nine holes, including five consecutive on the outward nine with a birdie and four pars.
This is an endurance contest, said Alexander. I was exhausted after I played yesterday. I haven’t played that many days in a row.