U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Wright's 69 Leads, But Several Champions in Close Pursuit August 24, 2019 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Martha Leach is just one stroke off the lead and in good position to make match play again in this championship. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Home

What Happened

Sherry Wright, a 52-year-old physical therapist from Oxnard, Calif., shot a 3-under-par 69 on Saturday, one shot better than four other players, to take the lead after the first round of stroke play in the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club.

There are only seven players within four strokes of Wright, and six of those pursuers have won at least one USGA title. Defending champion Lara Tennant, of Portland, Ore.; three-time Senior Women’s Amateur champion Diane Lang, of Weston, Fla.; and 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Am champion Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., are joined by Leigh Klasse, of Cumberland, Wis., at 2-under 70, while 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, Calif., and seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port both shot 1-under 71.

The lone player at 1-over 73 is Mary Ann Hayward, of Canada, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur winner.

Wright, who is competing in her first Senior Women’s Amateur and fourth USGA championship and took up the game only nine years ago, was 4 under through 15 holes before her lone bogey of the day on the par-4 seventh. She finished with a pair of pars for the solo lead.

“I love the golf course, but really, I was saying that before I started,” said Wright, who made her fourth career hole-in-one in a sectional qualifier for this year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open. “I feel very fortunate to be here. To have a really good score on top of it is amazing.”

Tennant, who was the medalist in the 2017 championship at Portland’s Waverley Country Club – her home course – defeated Sue Wooster, of Australia in last year’s final at Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club in Vero Beach, Fla., had three consecutive birdies on holes 12-14 to get to 4 under, but she made a double bogey on No. 16.

“Those things happen, and you just have to keep going,” said Tennant, whose father, George Mack Sr., is again caddieing for her after last year’s title run. “I’m really happy that I parred 17 and 18, which are tough holes. I had great support out there from my dad, reading the greens and with club selection, which is very important out here.”

Laura Webb, of the Republic of Ireland, who is the only player to win her country’s girls, women’s and senior women’s titles, shot the lone 2-over round of 74 and sits in ninth place. Among the seven players at 3-over 75 are two USGA champions who are making their Senior Women’s Amateur debuts: 2002 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Kathy Hartwiger, of Birmingham, Ala., and three-time Women’s Mid-Am champion Sarah Lebrun Ingram, of Nashville, Tenn., who will captain the 2020 USA Curtis Cup Team.    

What's Next

Round 2 of stroke play will begin at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Sunday, and the low 64 players will move on match play on Monday. If necessary, a playoff to determine the final match-play spots will take place on Sunday after the completion of Round 2.

Notable

  • Judith Kyrinis, 55, of Canada, was 1 under through 15 holes on Saturday before fading at the finish for a 4-over 76. Kyrinis, the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion, completed her second victory in the Canadian Senior Women’s Amateur on Tuesday in British Columbia. Kyrinis, of Thornhill, Ontario, also earned the Canadian Women’s Mid-Amateur and Mid-Master (40 and older) titles with her 54-hole total of 2-under 217, matching her feat of 2016.

  • The 17th hole, a 355-yard par 4 with a second shot that plays over Indian Creek and features the club’s iconic swinging bridge, was by far the most difficult hole on Saturday. It played more than a full stroke over par at a 5.01 average. There were only five birdies and 32 pars on the day, with a whopping 64 bogeys, 24 double bogeys and 7 scores worse than double bogey.

  • Three of the five easiest holes in Round 1 were the par 3s on the Donald Ross-designed course, which was restored by Ron Prichard in 2016. No. 8 (128 yards) was 14th, No. 5 (121 yards) was 16th and the easiest hole of the day by stroke average was the 105-yard 12th, which was parred by exactly 75 percent of the field (99 of 132 players). It yielded 10 birdies, 22 bogeys and one “other” for a stroke average of 3.11.

  • After starting her round with a triple-bogey 7 and a bogey 5, Laura Coble of Augusta, Ga., played her last 16 holes in 1 under par for a 3-over 75. Coble was the runner-up in the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and a semifinalist in this championship in 2016.

Quotable

“I just feel like I had nothing to lose. I’m an underdog. I’m a nobody. Why not just go out and have fun? No one knows who I am.” – Sherry Wright, who opened with the low round of 69

“Donald Ross, he’s always had my number. I’ve been going for 30 years to Pinehurst and never won anything. So to get it all going together, I was so happy because I love Pinehurst. I love the tradition and it’s like home for me. I’ve always wanted one of those Putter Boy trophies. I came close in the regular North & South. I think I made the semis and the quarters, but never could do it.” – Ellen Port, on finally winning at Pinehurst in the Senior Women’s North & South two weeks ago

“I had [3-under] 33 on the front and I rolled the ball really well. I got a little quick on two swings, which led to bogeys, but I had so many burn the edge with my putting. I haven’t felt like I’ve putted well in the last couple years so it’s nice when the ball is coming off well.” – Ellen Port, seven-time USGA champion, on her opening 70

“I hit the ball really well today. I hit 14 greens in regulation and made a few putts. That’s the best way to play this course. Hit fairways and greens.” – Leigh Klasse, the nine-time senior women’s player of the year in Minnesota, on her 2-under 70

 “I had a great start with a great group [Martha Leach and Mary Ann Hayward]. It was kind of inspiring – they’re really good players and they don’t mess up. Get to match play, that’s always my goal. Try to play good golf and everything else will take care of itself.” – Corey Weworski, on her opening round of 70

“I won the California State Seniors, but then I had a torn tendon and torn ligament, and I took off for two months. It’s a 50 percent tear. I was hoping that I didn’t need surgery, but I’ve been told that I have to get this done, it’s never going to go away.” – Corey Weworski, on playing with a brace this week

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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