Sue Wooster and Shelly Stouffer each won two matches on Wednesday to earn their spots in the 18-hole championship match of the 60th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Anchorage Golf Course.
Wooster authored a remarkable rally in her semifinal match against Christie Blasi, surging back from 3 down on the front nine to win, 3 and 2, to advance to the final for the third time in four years. Stouffer continued to cruise through the bracket, pulling away from Kathy Hartwiger in the semis with three straight winning pars (Nos. 12-14) to defeat the 2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, 4 and 3.
Prospects looked grim for Wooster, 60, of Australia, in the early going. She bogeyed four consecutive holes (Nos. 2-5), losing three of them, and seemingly faced a steep uphill climb against Blasi, who had made four birdies in her Wednesday morning quarterfinal victory over Sherry Wright.
How bad did things look for Wooster? No player in the entire championship had rallied from a 3-down deficit – and it had been 103 matches since it last happened in the Senior Women’s Amateur (Round of 64, 2021).
But in less than an hour, Blasi’s advantage had evaporated. Wooster took four straight holes, all with pars, to seize a 1-up lead. She dropped the 10th with a bogey but pulled ahead for good with a winning par on No. 13. She doubled her advantage with a birdie on the par-5 14th and closed the match with a par at the 16th.
“I think my experience paid off,” said Wooster. “My third final in the last four events, that's pretty cool. Yesterday I played really well, it felt easy. Today was not as easy. It was a grind. I didn't get the pace of the greens as well today. Hopefully that comes back tomorrow.”
Stouffer exacted revenge for last year’s semifinal defeat at the hands of Ellen Port, when she lost, 1 down, at The Lakewood Club in Point Clear, Ala. This year, Stouffer left little doubt, dispatching her opponents thus far with relative ease. She has not been extended past the 16th hole in any of her five matches and at one point, from the sixth hole in her Round-of-32 match to the fourth hole against Hartwiger in the semifinals, she lost just one hole over a span of 41 holes.
“I haven't felt nerves really all week,” said Stouffer. “It just seems normal. I love the course, it really suits me. I feel like I'm ready for this. I just want to keep going.”
Stouffer didn’t lose a hole in her morning quarterfinal match against fellow countrywoman Judith Kyrinis, beating the 2017 champion, 3 and 2. In total, Stouffer has played just 72 holes in five matches, giving her an outside shot of challenging Port’s record mark of 85 (2012) for least holes played from a champion, with a dominant performance on Thursday.
Thursday’s 18-hole championship match will begin at 8:30 a.m. AKDT. Follow live scoring on usga.org.
“When you finish, you give yourself a pat on the back for hanging in there and not giving up. It doesn't feel like it when you're out there, but when you're done, it's definitely rewarding. – Sue Wooster on what it feels like to win without your best stuff
“It's awesome to have my son [Brett] on the bag for this. We're just in sync. He knows my game so well; we play a lot of golf together. He knows how I hit the ball, so that's been such a bonus.” – Shelly Stouffer
“Coming back to Alaska, everything was going to be a win. I wanted to soak up every moment this week and I did. I'm staying with my mom's friend Sue [Gatewood], and she found my ball that was almost lost on hole 4 this morning! So she not only hosted us but found my ball!” – Kathy Hartwiger, who spent her teenage years in Fairbanks (6 hours north of Anchorage) and started playing golf while in Alaska
“The camaraderie for women is huge, especially in golf. We're social. We all get out here and every single one of us has that competitive fire, but first and foremost it's the friendships.” – Christie Blasi
Mike Trostel is the director of championship content for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.