Top 3 Seeds, Defending Champion into Quarterfinals September 20, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass. By Hunki Yun, USGA

Karen Garcia is three victories away from successfully defending her championship. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

After playing just 12 holes at Wellesley Country Club to win her first two matches in the 55th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, Kim Eaton, 57, of Mesa, Ariz., needed 17 holes in the Round of 16 on Tuesday afternoon to reach the quarterfinals for the fourth time.

“Playing two matches in a day is physically demanding,” said the No. 2 seed, who defeated Cindy Fentross, 52, of West Bolyston, Mass., by a 7-and-6 margin in the morning on the par-74, 6,049-yard layout before her 2-and-1 victory over Marilyn Hardy, 54, of Houston. “That’s why it was nice to go just 12 holes this morning so I could get a lot of rest.”

In this town that is home to Wellesley College, one of the most prestigious women’s colleges in the country, Eaton will join seven sisters in the final eight of the national championship for females 50 and over. Among this sorority of the best senior women golfers in the world, there is plenty of familiarity, friendship and sisterhood.

After her victory, Eaton exchanged congratulatory hugs with fellow quarterfinalist and defending champion Karen Garcia, 53, of Cool, Calif., who faces Caryn Wilson, 55, of Rancho Mirage, Calif.

“I am still missing some shots, so that’s kind of frustrating,” said Garcia, who won both her matches 2 and 1, over No. 4 seed Lisa McGill and Sydney Wells. “But in match play [the result] is all that matters.”

Meanwhile, Eaton was looking forward to her Wednesday match against another good friend, Laura Coble, 52, of Augusta, Ga., who advanced with wins over Marian Barker, 62, of Lubbock Texas, and Dana Harrity, 57, of North Hampton, N.H.

“I told Laura this morning, ‘Let’s meet tomorrow so I can have a rematch,” said Eaton, who lost to Coble in the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “I need a little revenge.

“Plus I’ll finally get over this quarterfinal hump,” she added.

Ellen Port will celebrate her birthday on Wednesday with a quarterfinal match against Lisa Schlesinger. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

The U.S. 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. The competition consists of 36 holes stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the 18-hole championship match scheduled to take place on Thursday, Sept. 22.

The quarterfinals will begin at 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday; the first semifinal match is scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m.

Medalist Judith Kyrinis, 52, of Canada, will be playing in the first match, as she did during the first two rounds. In the morning, she outlasted Robin Burke, 54, of Houston, in 20 holes before having an easier time in Round of 16, with a 4-and-3 win against Evelyn Orley, 50, of Cardiff, Calif.

Kyrinis advanced despite an inflamed right elbow, which she said wasn’t a factor.

“It bothered me my first match more than anything,” she said. “This morning was not my best ball-striking, but I was better this afternoon, so that’s good to see.”

Kyrinis will face Andrea Kraus, 55, of Baltimore, who had the shortest Round-of-16 match, defeating Lin Culver, 56, of Palm Coast, Fla., 8 and 7.

“Lin is a great competitor,” said Kraus, who defeated 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski in the morning. “We all have our days or our rounds that just aren’t our best. I was lucky to catch her on one of those. It’s not really a birdie course. Pars win out here.”

On the opposite side of the bracket, fellow Maryland resident Laura Schlesinger, 58, of Laytonsville, plays against two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Ellen Port, 54, of St. Louis, who has been shedding the rust from her game through her victories at Wellesley.

“I played two tournaments since this championship last year,” said Port, who has won all three of her matches comfortably and turns 55 on Wednesday. “When you don’t compete on a regular basis, getting into tournament mode gets harder.”

Port, who became the coach of the Washington University women’s golf team last year, has been inspired by her players.

“They are passionate about golf but they are students first,” said Port, who also owns four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles. “They do a lot of things besides golf and they still play really good golf. That makes me really proud to be their coach because of their priorities, and I try to emulate that.” 

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