U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
3 Things to Know: Stroke Play
August 24, 2019 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
The welcome party for the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids Country Club on Thursday evening featured an Iowa State Fair theme. One of the highlights was a dunk tank, in which players and officials took turns being doused and sending others into the water. On Saturday, the 132 competitors turn their focus to stroke play, and keeping their golf ball out of the Cedar River and its tributaries that wind through this scenic Donald Ross-designed course.
Here are 3 Things to Know for the two days of stroke play:
We Are the Champions
More than 10 percent of the field – 15 players – own at least one USGA championship, a total of 25 titles in all. That list includes defending champion Lara Tennant, 52, who defeated Sue Wooster last fall at Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club in Vero Beach, Fla. It also includes a pair of newcomers to the Senior Women’s Amateur: three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Sarah Lebrun Ingram, who will captain the 2020 USA Curtis Cup Team; and 2002 Women’s Mid-Am winner Kathy Hartwiger, an Iowa native. And no one is forgetting seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, who 2½ weeks ago captured the Senior Women’s North & South at Pinehurst, a 54-hole event, by 13 strokes and is looking to end a three-year “drought” since her last Senior Women’s Am title in 2016.
Two years ago, Judith Kyrinis of Canada defeated fellow Ontario native Terrill Samuel in the final at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Ore. Four of the eight quarterfinalists that year were from Canada, and Kyrinis said after her victory that watching the scoreboard and seeing her compatriots do well gave her incentive. “It really would spur you on to see your friends doing well, and you’re like, OK, let’s go. You don’t want to be left in the back of the bus.” There’s little chance of that – on Tuesday, Kyrinis captured the Canadian Senior Women’s Amateur title in British Columbia, edging Amy Ellertson of Free Union, Va., who is also in the field here, by one stroke. Kyrinis also won the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur and Mid-Masters (age 40 and older) categories on Tuesday, matching a sweep she accomplished in 2016. Although a wrist injury will keep Samuel from competing this week, the strong contingent of eight Canadians includes Mary Ann Hayward, a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur champion who also won the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and was one of those four 2017 quarterfinalists. Last year, four players from Canada were among the top 13 finishers in stroke play.
Matter of Course
It’s a simple matter, but under championship conditions, not so much. As Greg Lederer, the committee co-chair for the host club, put it, “If you can stay in the fairway and keep it below the hole on this course, you can score. But there are a half-dozen greens out here where you just don’t want to be above the hole.” The course has an atypical mix, with only three par-5 and three par-3 holes along with a dozen par 4s, but, said Lederer, “It doesn’t strike you, mainly because it’s a nice mix of par 4s.” Molly Altorfer, the club’s other committee co-chair, heard a lot of early comments by players about the relatively short course setup of 5,732 yards, but that was before they played it. “I haven’t been hearing anything about it being short in the past couple of days,” said Altorfer. “It plays much longer because of the elevation.”
A couple of holes where rounds can be made or broken are the par-4 11th (368 yards) and 17th (358 yards). Both feature an approach shot over the river, and shorter hitters or players who find the rough from the tee may face the choice of laying up short of the water and trying to make an up-and-down for par, or gambling on clearing it. Their chances of making match play could end up in the dunk tank.
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.