Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Eight Past USGA Champions Advance to Round of 32

(St. Louis, Mo.) - All eight past USGA champions in the match-play bracket, as well as medalist Shannon Johnson, of Norton, Mass., advanced out of the Round of 64 on Monday in the 32nd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Norwood Hills Country Club.

Seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo., the No. 32 match-play seed who has won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur four times, eked out a 1-up victory over Truc Ly, of Vietnam. Fellow four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the No. 3 seed, prevailed over Allison Schultz, of Madison, Wis., 4 and 3.

Port, 57, who resigned as the head women’s golf coach at Washington University on June 30, is competing in this championship for the first time since 2012 and posted victories in 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2011. She is one of three players from Missouri to reach the match-play bracket, and her victory sets up a Round-of-32 meeting with Johnson, who defeated No. 64 seed Brenda Pictor, 6 and 5. Johnson, 35, was the runner-up in this championship in 2016 at The Kahkwa Club, in Erie, Pa., where she shared medalist honors and lost in the final to two-time champion Julia Potter-Bobb.

Potter-Bobb, 30, of Indianapolis, Ind., also notched a 6-and-5 victory, over Sue Billek Nyhus, of Orem, Utah. Other past champions to advance included 2015 winner Lauren Greenlief, 28, of Ashburn, Va.; 2014 champion Margaret Starosto, 32, of Woodstock, Ga.; defending champion Kelsey Chugg, 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and 2004 champion Corey Weworski, 56, of Carlsbad, Calif. Judith Kyrinis, 54, the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion, also moved on.

Potter-Bobb, a University of Missouri graduate who is now the director of member services for the Indiana Golf Office, is joined in the Round of 32 by fellow Mizzou grad Michelle Butler, 25, of Columbia, Mo., who birdied the par-5 18th hole to edge Olivia Herrick, 30, of Roseville, Minn.

No. 2 seed Erin Bradford, 34, of Georgetown, Ky., lost a 1-up match to No. 63 seed Janet Moore, 54, of Centennial, Colo., who birdied the 17th and 18th holes for the victory in this, her 27th USGA championship. For Bradford, it is her second USGA championship and her first time making match play.

Defending champion Kelsey Chugg, on her 3-and-2 victory:
“I was kind of hanging on today. I played fairly solidly in the middle of the round when I needed to, and was able to coast a bit through to the end. Last year, I had some good matches early on, and then the semifinal match against Marissa Mar, we were just back-and-forth birdies all over, and that match is definitely the one that sticks out in my mind. The experience taught me that you really just have to hang on, and play steady golf all week."

Medalist Shannon Johnson, on her 6-and-5 win:
“My short game was pretty well on, so I was able to get it up and down a few times and that drains on your opponent. We don’t always bring our A games, so you have to figure it out on the fly. On No. 8, I hit a shot from 50 yards to within about 2 inches to save par, and even though it was for a half, I felt like I won that hole.”

Johnson, on playing Ellen Port on Tuesday:
“You always want to play the best people, and she’s a legend. It was fun to watch her and Lauren [Greenlief] make the cut and play so well against the college kids at the Women’s Am this year. Obviously, she still has a ton of game. We’ve never played together or against each other, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ellen Port, on her 1-up win:
“I was very fortunate to win. I was down or even most of the match, I had a couple of unforced errors from the middle of the fairway, which was disappointing, so I had to fight off thinking ‘should have, would have, could have.' I had Ryan Roy, the head pro here for 13 years, on the bag and he knows the greens better than anyone. We misread the first hole, but the rest were spot on. What’s really exciting is how excited everyone here at Norwood is for me.”

- Heidi Stark, of Lincoln, Neb., was the odd player out in Monday morning’s 7-for-6 playoff to complete the match-play bracket. Five players parred the first playoff hole, the par-4 14th, while Stark and Brenda Pictor, of Marietta, Ga., both bogeyed. Pictor parred the second hole to take the 64th spot while Stark made another bogey. Pictor, 62, became the oldest player to reach match play, although she was eliminated by medalist Johnson later in the day, 6 and 5.
- Ellen Port’s 1-up victory on Monday was her first match win in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Am since 2012, and the record 59th of her career. Port moved three victories ahead of Carol Semple Thompson (56), while Stasi earned her 46th victory on Monday. Port is competing in her 21st Women’s Mid-Am, while Stasi is competing in her 13th. Thompson, who won the championship twice, played in it 23 times. Weworski won her 27th match on Monday in this, her 20th start, to move into solo 11th place all-time.
- Clare Connolly's 8-and-7 win on Monday over Patricia Ehrhart is the largest margin of victory in the championship since Liz Waynick defeated Mary Jane Hiestand, 9 and 7, in 2012. Connolly, 25, of Chevy Chase, Md., closed out her win with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11.

Match play continues on Tuesday with the Rounds of 32 and 16. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, with the 18-hole championship match scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m.

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