Stroke-play medalist and two-time defending champion Ellen Port, 52, of St. Louis, defeated Kimberly Briele, 53, of New Bern, N.C., 6 and 4, on Monday (Sept. 15) in the first round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, held at the 6,109-yard, par-73 Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J.
Port, who won the stroke-play portion by nine strokes with a two-round total of 2-under-par 144, won four of the last five holes on the outward nine to take control against Briele and went on to record her 80th match-play victory in USGA competition.
“It was nice to build that lead because on the back (nine) a lot of things can happen,” said Port, who has won six USGA championships, including four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs. “I was a little off today, didn’t hit everything as well as I like, but I got the job done.”
Port, who closed out the match by winning holes 12, 13 and 14 with pars, halved the sixth hole with a birdie to ignite her run. After Briele chipped in from off the green for birdie, Port countered by making a 4-foot putt.
Martha Leach, a 3-and-2 winner over Claudia Pilot, 57, of Lake Shore, Minn., will renew her rivalry with Port in the Round of 32 at 7 a.m. (CDT) Tuesday. Leach, who made pars to win the seventh and eighth holes, and birdied the 353-yard, par-4 11th in her first-round match against Pilot, narrowly lost to Port in the 2011 Women’s Mid-Amateur final.
“There’s no hidden secret,” said Leach, 52, of Hebron, Ky., about what makes Port a great champion. “She hits it far enough, she’s strong enough, but she is a great competitor.”
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship continues with the second and third rounds of match play on Tuesday. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played on Wednesday. The championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday (Sept. 18) starting at 7:30 a.m. EDT.
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, for players 50 years and older, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.