Monday, August 26, 2019

In Her 71st USGA Championship, Leach Earns First No. 1 Seed

(RELEASE) - Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., who is competing in her 71st USGA championship, shot a second-round 73 on Sunday for a 36-hole total of 1-under-par 143 to earn stroke-play medalist honors in the 58th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club.

Leach, 57, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, edged Ellen Port and Mary Ann Hayward of Canada by two strokes for the No. 1 seed in match play, which begins on Monday. Port, of St. Louis, Mo., a seven-time USGA champion, and Hayward, the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, completed two rounds at 1-over 145. It was Leach’s first medalist honor in her 71 USGA championships – and while it’s a proud accomplishment, it’s sometimes seen as unlucky.

“I’m not low, am I?” Leach joked after she completed her round, in which she played with Hayward and 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski, who finished alone in fourth place at 2-over 146. “Nobody really wants it. My compadres today were hoping that I got it and they didn’t get it.”

While it was Leach’s first time as medalist, it’s not her first medal. The younger sister of six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy, she edged out her sibling last July in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club, finishing in a tie for 10th and earning the silver medal as the low amateur. She will begin match play at 7:30 a.m. CDT on Monday against No. 64 seed Jane Curtin, of Silver Spring, Md., who made it into the bracket in an 8-for-5 playoff on Sunday evening.

“It was a good 73 today,” said Leach, who works as a realtor. “I didn’t put any stress on myself, so that was a positive. I didn’t hit it as well as yesterday, but coming down the last four holes I found the form I had yesterday, so that was encouraging.”

Like Leach, Port shot three strokes higher on Sunday (71-74). The St. Louis native, who won this championship for the fourth time in 2016, rallied with birdies on four of her last seven holes after struggling a bit at the start of the day.

“I was quick on some swings; my tempo was off on a couple of wedges,” said Port, 57. “And I yanked a pitching wedge from the middle of the fairway on No. 14 to make a double. But today was about learning from my mistakes, which I love. [Defending champion] Lara Tennant missed more greens today and it was actually serving her well. You’ve got to get a feel for the golf course.”

Tennant, who was co-medalist and No. 1 seed in 2017 and defeated Sue Wooster last October at Orchid Island for the title, is the No. 5 seed after rounds of 70-78. Hayward, a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, is the No. 3 seed and Weworski earned the No. 4 seed.


An 8-for-5 playoff was conducted immediately after Round 2 of stroke play concluded, and it took just one hole for five players to secure the Nos. 60-64 spots in the bracket after they completed 36 holes at 17-over 161. Susan West and Dori Eastwood made par 4s on the 347-yard 10th hole, while bogey 5s got Monica Townsend, Kathy Glennon and Jane Curtin into match play.
Karen Garcia and Pam Kuong, the two finalists in this championship in 2015 at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville, Tenn., both were in danger of missing the cut for match play after opening with 9-over 81s on Saturday. Garcia, of Cool, Calif., the 2015 champion, rebounded with a 2-over 74 to earn the No. 30 seed, while Kuong, of Wellesley Hills, Mass., rallied with a 78 to earn the No. 53 seed.
The field of 132 players averaged 80.88 strokes over 36 holes on the Donald Ross-designed Cedar Rapids Country Club layout, which was restored by course architect Ron Prichard in 2016. The final three holes, a trio of par 4s, proved daunting, ranking as three of the top four toughest: No. 16 was fourth-hardest, No. 17 was the hardest, and No. 18 played as the second-hardest.


“I haven’t been playing well for over a year. In this championship last year at Orchid Island, I had one good day, and it was the first time I hit the ball really well in four months. Since then, it has been a struggle. We’ve been trying to tweak things in my swing, and John [Leach, her husband and coach] and I figured something out the other day.” – Martha Leach, who shot 70-73 in stroke play
“I told her she was 0 for 70.” – John Leach, Martha Leach’s husband, a golf professional who doubles as her caddie and her swing coach, on her previous USGA record of never earning a No. 1 match-play seed
“I look at qualifying as a day of learning. Somewhere down the road, something that happened is going to serve me well: with a distance, with the speed of a green, with a mistake I made before. You never get too old to learn.” – Ellen Port, the No. 2 seed for match play, who shot 1-over 145 for 36 holes
“I’m oblivious to the medalist thing. I’ve won the whole thing when I’m medalist and I’ve won the whole thing when I’m not medalist. It doesn’t have anything to do with your positioning.” – Ellen Port, who starts match as the No. 2 seed in her quest for an eighth USGA championship


The Round of 32 and the Round of 16 will both be played on Tuesday.

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