Defending champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, won her Wednesday morning quarterfinal match to advance to the afternoon semifinals along with Mary Jane Hiestand, of Naples, Fla.; Caryn Wilson, of Rancho Mirage, Calif.; and Susan Cohn, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., at the 52nd USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at CordeValle.
Port, 52, defeated Marilyn Hardy, 52, of Houston, 5 and 4, at the 5,996-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones Jr. course.
In the other quarterfinal matches, Hiestand defeated Liz Waynick, 53, of Scottsdale, Ariz., 5 and 3; Wilson topped 2010 champion Mina Hardin, 53, of Fort Worth, Texas, 5 and 3; and Cohn outlasted 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur winner Corey Weworski, 51, of Carlsbad, Calif., in 20 holes.
Port meets Hiestand, 54, at 12:45 p.m. in the semifinals, and Wilson, 52, faces Cohn, 50, at 1:30 p.m. (PDT).
A five-time USGA champion who works as a high school teacher and golf coach, Port is now 10-0 in match play in this championship. In winning in her first Senior Women’s Amateur in 2012 at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club, she was 6-0.
"I think I am a person who settles down and is free of fear," said Port, who is the USA captain for the 2014 Curtis Cup Match. "In qualifying, I always have something lurking in my mind. If you are out of a hole, it kind of inspires you. I play a little more passionately in match play. It’s a little more head-on but I really just play the golf course – having said that, I love pulling off a shot. I stay more focused in match. I am more focused and at peace."
Port won three of the first six holes, then won three consecutive holes (12-14) to close out the match.
Hiestand, who was also a quarterfinalist in 2011, broke open a close match by taking four consecutive holes – 12, 13, 14 and 15 – for her victory.
"My putting was fantastic and I drove it great," said Hiestand, who won the 2013 Florida State Senior Amateur Championship, defeating three-time USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Diane Lang. "After I three-putted the first hole, I made everything from 6, 7, and 8 feet."
Wilson, who played golf and tennis professionally, overcame a poor start to dispatch Hardin.
"I bogeyed the first three holes and then I birdied the fourth hole and that settled me down a little," said Wilson, who was a three-time All-American in tennis at Stanford. "It’s so windy. I thought, am I ever going to tie a hole, much less win one."
Following the birdie at the 327-yard, par-4 fourth, Wilson won the sixth, seventh and eighth to take the lead for good.
Cohn, who defeated 2009 champion Sherry Herman in the third round, was 3 down after eight holes in the back-and-forth match with Weworski. She then won four of the next five, gaining her first lead with a birdie on No. 13. Weworski birdied the 15th to square the match and Cohn followed with a birdie on the par-3 16th to take back the lead, only to lose the 17th with a bogey. Cohn closed out the match when Weworski bogeyed the par-3 second.
"I always wish I could have putted a little better," said Cohn, who is playing in her first USGA championship since the 1992 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. "But I am not as long as some of the players out here so I have to have a decent short game."
Pete Kowalski is the USGA's director of championship communications. E-mail him at email@example.com.