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Port’s bid for third U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur title ends with loss in Round of 32

14SWA_ME_0823The quest for a third consecutive U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur title ended early for Ellen Port.

Susan West, 50, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., won two matches, including a win over last year’s runner-up, to advance to the quarterfinals and stroke-play medalist and two-time defending champion Port, 52, of St. Louis, was ousted Tuesday (Sept. 16) 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 was attempting to become the first medalist to win the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur since 2002, was upended in the morning’s Round of 32 by Martha Leach, 3 and 2. The two competitors had not met since Port’s victory in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur final. Meanwhile, West defeated Susan Cohn, 51, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 2 and 1, earlier in the day, before holding off Leach, 1 up, in a third-round match.

“I had a good morning and I grinded it out in the rain,” said West, who is competing in this championship for the first time. “This afternoon, I played as solid a round of golf as I have in a long time.”

Leach, whose sister, Hollis Stacy, won three U.S. Women’s Open Championships, squared her match with West by making a birdie at the par-5 10th. But the former tennis player and U.S. Clay Court doubles champion won four consecutive holes, all with pars, to take a 3-up lead. Leach, 52, of Hebron, Ky., made a late comeback bid when she sank a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and won No. 17 with a bogey. West wrapped up the win with a two-putt par and Leach’s missed 16-foot birdie attempt on the finishing hole.

The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship continues with the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Wednesday. The championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday, Sept. 18, starting at 7:30 a.m. CDT.

Against Port, Leach leaped to a 2-up lead after three holes and never trailed. Port bogeyed the first hole when she three-putted. Leach, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, escaped trouble to halve No. 2 with a par after hitting a wayward tee shot and proceeded to make a downhill 40-foot birdie putt on the par-4 third.

Port, who owned a 13-0 match-play record in this championship and 80 career USGA wins prior to her meeting with Leach, trailed by as many as three holes but closed the gap to 1 down with a par on No. 8 and a birdie on No. 10. However, Port bogeyed the par-4 14th when she hit her tee shot into the right rough and had to play her third from inside a hazard in front of the green.

“She played better than me,” said Port, who is tied for fourth among women with six USGA championship wins. “Her short game was better, her putting was better and she recovered better. I made more mistakes than Martha and that’s the bottom line.”

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