Tuesday Notebook: Streit Turns Back Clock

Hall Of Fame Inductee Just Thrilled To Compete At Women's Amateur

 

By David Shefter, USGA

 

Erie, Pa. Marlene Streit could have shot a 100 and it wouldn't have mattered. As the championship's oldest competitor, the whole point of showing up at the 104th U.S. Women's Amateur at The Kahkwa Club was to enjoy the experience.

 

Forty-eight years ago, Streit, now 70, etched her name on the Robert F. Cox Trophy long before 99 percent of the field at this year's championship was even born. She has won 11 Canadian Amateur titles and one British Ladies Amateur title. And in November, she will become the first Canadian to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

 

Last year, Streit became the oldest champion in USGA history at age 69 when she captured the Senior Women's Amateur, which earned her an exemption into the 2004 Women's Amateur. She and Jack Nicklaus are the only players in history to capture the same USGA title in three different decades. Nicklaus won the U.S. Open in 1962, '72 and '80. Streit took the Senior Women's in 1985, '94 and 2003.

 

“It's a thrill to be here,” Streit said after posting an 87 in Tuesday's second round of stroke-play qualifying, giving her a 36-hole total of 166. “I'm so excited. I'm here only because of the exemption and it (Kahkwa Club) is close by (about three hours from her home in Unionville, Ontario. I would have gone across the country to play in it. I'm glad that I've done it.

 

“It's like buying your last fur coat or your last car.”

 

On Monday, Streit thrilled everyone with a back-nine, even-par 36 to open the championship. A second-nine 43 gave her a 79, a highly respectable score for someone who had to use woods to reach virtually all of the par 4s.

 

“To think I could go out there and tee it up with them was pretty amazing,” said Streit, who will not play the Women's Mid-Amateur in September, but will defend her Senior Women's Amateur title in October at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. “I'm just going to remember that 36 on my first nine [Monday]. I'm not remembering all these other three nines.”

 

Streit's appearance at the Women's Amateur was her first since 1975 at Brae Burn Country Club when she advanced to the third round of match play. She was exempt by being a past champion up until a few years ago when the USGA changed the past-champion exemption policy, but other events always seemed to conflict with the Women's Amateur.

 

“Our Canadian [Ladies Amateur] was either one week apart or the U.S. Women's Amateur wasn't convenient,” said Streit on why she didn't compete. “My biggest expectation this week was to come and see the younger kids play and to have a good time. That's exactly what I've done.”

 

And was Streit impressed with what she saw from this younger generation of standouts?

 

“Fabulous. I have never seen anything like it,” she said. “There are so many in one spot. If we were playing now [in our prime] … we would be nobody. Who knows how we would do [against them].”

 

As for the Hall of Fame, Streit is absolutely thrilled to be the first Canadian to be inducted.

 

“It's huge for Canada,” she said. “I'm very proud.”

 

A Feel For Kahkwa

 

After nearly two practice rounds and 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, Nicole Cutler, 23, of Cherry Hills Village, Colo., thinks she has an understanding of the Donald Ross layout.

 

She found her comfort zone after shooting a 74 on Tuesday, giving her a 145 total and the No. 5 seed for match play.

 

“That was my biggest goal coming into today and I feel like I did a better job at that,” said Cutler of her course management.

 

And the former Vanderbilt standout is looking forward to the match-play portion of the championship. She recently advanced to the semifinals of the Colorado Women's Amateur and she was a quarterfinalist at the Women's Trans-National last month.

 

“I'm looking forward to playing match play on this course,” said Cutler. “I'm looking forward to not having to worry about a bad hole here and there. I'm looking forward to playing one person at a time.”

 

If she draws a big gallery, she'll definitely be accustomed to it. She played the first two rounds of stroke play with 14-year-old wunderkind Michelle Wie.

 

“It was a good experience,” said Cutler. “They were very polite and applauded for all great shots. We definitely appreciated that.”

 

Prickly Situation

 

Last summer, Amie Cochran of Torrance, Calif., stuck her hands in the wrong place and suffered the consequences. During the second round of an American Junior Golf Association event in Tucson, Ariz., she twice accidentally touched a cactus while trying to locate her ball. She wound up shooting a 78 and spending an hour in the training room afterward getting the thorns removed.

 

“One of the interns spent an hour getting those things out of my hand,” said the 18-year-old freshman-to-be at UCLA.

 

The next day, all Cochran did was go out and shoot a career-best 62 to finish second, four strokes behind Esther Choe.

 

Cochran has not encountered that kind of native vegetation here at The Kahkwa Club this week. In fact, she earned medalist honors with a 3-under 141 (70-71). But now her attention must focus toward match play, a format she has played a few times. She was a quarterfinalist at the 2002 U.S. Girls' Junior. Her opponent will be the survivor of an 11-person playoff on Wednesday morning.

 

“Make birdies,” said Cochran of her mindset. “That's how you win holes. Match play is a very personal thing between two players. You don't have to worry about [overall] score. You have to worry about winning the hole.”

 

Add Cochran

 

Cochran got solid preparation for the Donald Ross layout at Kahkwa when she competed at the U.S. Women's Open in July at The Orchards Golf Club, another Ross design. She missed the cut, but she said that was for a lack of preparation.

 

“I had prom [two weeks earlier],” she explained. “That's why I missed the cut. [Two weeks] wasn't enough time to prepare.”

 

But Cochran did say the greens at Kahkwa are quite similar to the ones she faced in South Hadley, Mass. “They're like identical,” she said. “They are the same bowl-shaped greens. It actually did help for this course.”

 

Fall Preview

 

While the Women's Amateur will crown one champion at the end of the week, the event also is a chance to see players who might be competing at the Women's World Amateur Team Championship this October in Puerto Rico.

 

One of those players is 17-year-old Sun-Young Yoo of Korea, who posted a 36-hole stroke-play-qualifying total of 1-under-par 143 (72-71). This is Yoo's second match-play competition, having advanced to the quarterfinals of the American Junior Golf Association's Polo Golf Junior Classic last November.

 

“I like the food here,” said Yoo through her interpreter Jay Choi. “I love breakfast. I love bacon. And I like hamburgers.”

 

Yoo, the 2001 Korean Junior champion, said she was inspired to succeed two years ago when she played with three-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion and two-time U.S. Women's Open winner Juli Inkster at an event in her home country. She listed that as her most memorable golf experience, even though Se Ri Pak is the most revered female golfer in Korea.

 

Besides Yoo, Korea will also be represented by Hee-Young Park, who is competing at Kahkwa this week and survived the cut for match play.

 

Four competitors in the field this week competed at the 2002 Women's World Amateur: Laura Matthews of Canada, Eva Yoe of the Peoples Republic of China, Tania Elosegui of Spain and Carolina Llano of Colombia. Llano attends Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. Matthews is an assistant golf coach at her alma mater, University of Georgia.

 

Two Good

 

Tania Elosegui recorded the championship's second eagle on a par 4 when she holed out from 130 yards with a 9-iron at the ninth hole. (Tina Miller also had an eagle on the second hole Tuesday, but failed to qualify for match play).

 

But the Spaniard wasn't so fortunate at 18 when she incurred a two-stroke penalty (Rule 13-2) for knocking down a branch while taking a practice swing. The incident was discussed with Maggie Giesenhagen, the USGA staff member in charge of the Women's Amateur in the scoring tent before the decision was rendered. Elosegui, who posted the best round on Monday with a 68, shot an 81 on Tuesday.

 

Miscalculation

 

When does a 69 become a 70? Reigning U.S. Girls' Junior champion Julieta Granada discovered that on Tuesday when she accidentally signed for a 4 on the sixth hole instead of a birdie 3. Granada was not disqualified because she signed for a higher score, but the 69 would have given her second place by herself at 142 after the 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying. Instead, she wound up in a three-way tie for second at 143 with Koreans Sun-Young Yoo and Hee-Young Park.

 

“I cannot believe I did that,” said Granada. “How do you forget a birdie.”

 

Withdrawal

 

Megan Grehan, 15, of Mamaroneck, N.Y., withdrew from the competition on Tuesday due to a shoulder injury. Grehan was exempt into the Women's Amateur by virtue of qualifying for this year's U.S. Women's Open. She shot 82 on Monday. She also reached the second round of the 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior.

 

Going Home

 

Some notable players did not survive the 36-hole cut for match play, which came at 12-over 156 (11-for-1 playoff for the last spot in the draw). They included 1998 U.S. Girls' Junior champion Leigh Anne Hardin, 2002 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champion and 2004 USA Curtis Cupper Annie Thurman, seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson, 2003 U.S. Girls' Junior champion Sukjin-Lee Wuesthoff, 1998 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Virginia Grimes, three-time Women's Mid-Amateur champion Ellen Port, 2004 USA Curtis Cupper Brittany Lang, 2003 Women's Mid-Am champion Amber Marsh Elliott and 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior co-medalist Mari Chun.

 

Young And Old

 

Isabelle Lendl, who just turned 13 on July 29, was the youngest competitor to make match play while 2002 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Kathy Hartwiger, 38, was the oldest to make the field.

As luck would have it, Hartwiger and Lendl will square off in the first round of match play.

One other mid-amateur (25 years of age and older) has a chance to qualify. Meghan Bolger, 26, is in the playoff on Wednesday morning for the last spot.

 

David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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