Lynn Thompson knew she would need a special round to knock off three-time defending champion Lara Tennant. What she summoned was even better than she could have imagined.
A near-flawless performance by Thompson at Anchorage Golf Course snapped Tennant’s 20-match win streak and moved her through to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. She is joined by 2021 semifinalist Shelly Stouffer, 2011 champion Terri Frohnmayer and two-time runner-up Sue Wooster, among others.
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Thompson’s stunning defeat of Tennant has to be considered one of the greatest upsets in championship history. Prior to this week, the 64-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, had qualified for just three Senior Women’s Amateurs in 14 years of eligibility, winning one match.
This year in Alaska, she has already won three, knocking off Tennant with a combination of precise iron shots and clutch putts that added up to four birdies and just two bogeys over 17 holes.
Thompson took advantage of some early miscues from Tennant to build a 3-up lead through five holes. She extended the advantage to 4 up with a winning par on the 10th, but Tennant clawed back into the match with four birdies over the next five holes.
With the margin down to one, Thompson answered the bell yet again. After Tennant missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th, Thompson calmly rolled in a 3-footer to close out the match, 2 and 1.
“Well, it's good I didn't know that [that Lara was 20-0],” said Thompson. “I really just didn't have any expectations going into the match but to do my best. And it turned out.”
“There's never quit in me,” said Tennant. “But I also faced an opponent who made a lot of great putts. And she was the better player today.”
After an 81 in Round 1 of stroke play, Stouffer seemed more likely to be on the match-play bubble than contending for the title. But the 52-year-old Canadian followed with a 4-under 68 to earn the No. 2 seed and has carried that momentum into match play.
“The first day was a really bad day,” said Stouffer. “I made some changes. Changed my golf cart. Changed my ball marker. I put on some clothes that I played well in before I came here. And something worked!”
Not only has it worked, but Stouffer’s 41 holes played in three matches are five fewer than any other quarterfinalist. A 5-and-4 victory over Lee Burton in the Round of 32 and 8-and-6 win over Molly Steffes in the Round of 16 meant that Stouffer could conserve energy with another potential two-round day looming on Wednesday. She will face fellow Canadian Judith Kyrinis in the quarters, after the 2017 champion ousted fellow USGA champion Martha Leach in 19 holes on Tuesday afternoon.
Terri Frohnmayer, 66, of Meridian, Idaho, is the championship’s oldest quarterfinalist since at least 2010. Playing on the last year of her 10-year exemption for winning in 2011, Frohnmayer knocked off No. 1 seed, Lynne Cowan, 1 up, in the Round of 32 and two-time USA Curtis Cupper Brenda Kuehn, 2 and 1, in the Round of 16.
She will face two-time runner-up Sue Wooster in the quarters after the 60-year-old Australian dispatched Suzi Spotleson, 5 and 4, in the Round of 16. Wooster has not trailed through three matches and did not lose a hole against Spotleson.
The other three players who won two matches on Tuesday were Sherry Wright, who advanced with a pair of 2-and-1 victories, rallying from behind in both to beat Tracy Welch in the morning and Terrill Samuel in the afternoon; Christie Blasi, who outlasted Sally Krueger in 21 holes in the Round of 16; and Kathy Hartwiger, who won her first three holes in her afternoon match against Julie Harrison and prevailed, 4 and 3.
Wednesday’s quarterfinal matches will begin at 8 a.m. AKDT, followed by the semifinals at 1 p.m. The 18-hole final on Thursday will begin at 8:30 a.m.
“It's been a dream [the last four years]. A dream that I never expected. And I just feel so honored to be a champion and blessed that I've had that opportunity.” – Lara Tennant
“Lara is such a fine champion. Such a great representation of women's senior golf. I knew she was going to be delightful to play with.” – Lynn Thompson
“Last year he kept calling and asking when I was coming home. This year he doesn't have to do that!” – Shelly Stouffer on her 15-year-old son/caddie, Brett being here in Alaska
“The experience this week has been amazing. They've done a wonderful job here. The lower 48 could learn a thing or two from these wonderful volunteers.” – Terri Frohnmayer
“That was such a great match. I started out strong, birdie-birdie. But Martha came back with her own birdies. Martha is a Class A player; we've had our battles before too. I feel relieved to get that done.” – Judith Kyrinis on her Round-of-16 victory over Martha Leach
Mike Trostel is the director of championship content for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.