Campomanes Channels Nervous Energy into Satisfying Start September 18, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass. By Rob Duca

Spain's Macarena Campomanes slowly has adjusted to playing her first major competition in the U.S. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

Macarena Campomanes had a satisfied smile on her face as she recounted her 6-over-par 80 in Saturday’s first round of stroke play in the 55th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Wellesley Country Club. There was also a noticeable look of relief.

When she arrived at Wellesley, Campomanes understood that she was on foreign turf in more ways than one. Not only is she the only European in the field of 132, the 52-year-old Spaniard is playing in her first USGA championship, earning an exemption by winning the European Amateur Women’s Senior Championship. She is stepping up in class by competing against experienced women with strong USGA résumés.

Or perhaps she knew the long odds facing competitors having the transatlantic voyage to play this championship. No European has reached the final match since Cecilia Mourgue-D’Algue, of France, lost in 19 holes to Carol Semple Thompson in 1999.

So one could forgive her anxieties.

“The talent level for the seniors in Europe is not as high as it in America,” she conceded. “This is a little overwhelming. For that reason, I feel a little scared. I’m not normally this nervous, but I think it’s mainly because I’m playing in the United States.”

It’s not often one hears such unvarnished honesty from a competitor before the start of the championship. But perhaps by embracing her fears, Campomanes was able to overcome them. On a day when no competitor broke par on the par-74, 6,049-yard Donald Ross-designed layout, the native of Madrid was only six strokes off the lead set by Judith Kryinis. No wonder she was pleased with her performance.

“I never calmed down. I don’t know why,” she said. “But now I see that the conditions are difficult for everybody. I am very happy with how I played.”

Campomanes began on the 10th hole and bogeyed five of her first seven holes, managing to limit the damage by making two birdies. She recorded four more bogeys with one birdie on her second nine.

“The course played difficult because of the wind and the pin placements,” said Campomanes, who had five three-putts. “I hit my driver quite well, but even so I had some very long uphill shots to very difficult pins. The greens are perfect, so if you hit it close, it is quite easy to hole the putt. But if you’re far away it is also quite easy to three-putt.”

In a country with roughly 400 courses, Campomanes always has great access to the game. She grew up on a golf course that was owned by her father. Today she works for an academy that organizes programs that help aspiring golf professionals to obtain their teaching certification. The office is located – you got it – across the street from a course.

“I live near the office, so I’m never far away from the course and I can practice almost every day,” she said.

Her daughter, Macarena Basagoiti, 20, is currently studying business administration at Erskine College in South Carolina, where she plays on the golf team. But like her mother, she has no plans of turning pro.

“I never considered it,” said Campomanes, who also has a son, Queipo de Llano, 28, and a daughter, Patricia Queipo de Llano, 26. “I love everything about the game, but I got married and wanted to raise my children.”

Her pre-championship trepidation belies her experience. Although this year’s European Senior Women’s Amateur was clearly her biggest individual victory, she has won numerous times on Europe’s amateur circuit, in France, Italy and Portugal. In addition, she was a member of three Spanish squads in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championships, helping her country hoist the Espirito Santo Trophy in 1986 and 1992.

After just one round, she felt much more comfortable and is determined to extend her visit for as long as she can.

“This is a dream for me to play in such a championship,” she said. “I was quite nervous at the beginning, but I feel more confident now.”

Rob Duca is a Massachusetts-based writer.

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