Ellen Port, 52, of St Louis, MO, with 106 holes of golf on CordeValle Golf Club’s Robert Trent Jones II-designed championship course behind her this week, is one match away from repeating as USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Champion. Port and Susan Cohn, 50, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, will play 36 holes of match play for the championship tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM.
With four US Women’s Mid-Amateur titles to her credit, a win in tomorrow’s championship match would bring Port’s USGA championship total to six, tying her with Glenna Collett Vare and Hollis Stacy, trailing only JoAnne Gunderson Carner, with eight, and Carol Semple Thompson and Anne Quast Sander, who have seven each. A win by Port would make her the first back-to-back winner of the event since Diane Lang in 2005 and 2006.
Port defeated Marilyn Hardy, 52, of Houston, TX, 6 and 4 in her morning quarterfinal match, leading from the first hole and winning or tying all but one of the fourteen holes in the match. Port’s opponent in the afternoon semifinal, Mary Jane Hiestand, 54, of Naples, FL, took an early lead with a win on the first hole. Port won the second to square the match, took the lead at the long par-5 third, the #1 handicap hole on the course, and led all the way to the conclusion of the match at the 15th hole, 4 up with 3 to play.
Despite a slimmer USGA competition resumé than her opponent, Cohn has kept her hand in since her college playing days, and has ten Palm Beach County titles to her credit. She last played in a USGA championship 21 years ago, as a mid-am. Cohn earned four letters in golf at the University of North Carolina, making the team as a walk-on.
Cohn had to get past some formidable competition to make it to the championship match. She defeated 2009 Senior Women’s Amateur champion Sherry Herman in 19 holes in the third round of match play, and went into extra holes again in her semifinal match against 2004 US Mid-Am champion Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, CA, taking the win after 20 holes.
Despite giving away a bit of distance off the tee to some of her opponents, Cohn plays to her strengths, pressing on shorter holes where she has a better chance of making a birdie. She has demonstrated great tenacity, and the ability to come back in mid-round, during her championship matches; in her semifinal match against former professional golfer and tennis player Caryn Wilson, 52, of Rancho Mirage, she took the lead at the eight hole before closing out the match at the fifteenth, 4 and 3.
Thursday’s championship match promises to be quite a duel, between contestants who, despite having quite different championship resumés, have both demonstrated the ability to play to their strengths and take on all comers on an unfamiliar golf course.
The championship is scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday, 26 September, starting at 8 AM. The champion receives a gold medal and custody of the Senior Women’s Amateur Championship Trophy for one year.