Ellen Secor of Portland, Ore. and her partner Katrina Prendergast have reached the semifinal match of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, being held this week at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif.
Secor and Prendergast are teammates on the women’s golf team at Colorado State University, with Secor being a sophomore and Prendergast a junior.
After winning today’s quarterfinal match 2-up against the team of Katherine Gravel-Coursol and Paige Nelson, Secor and Prendergast will face Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd in tomorrow’s semifinal match.
Here is a transcript of Secor’s post-match interview earlier today.
Tell me, how did you guys do it?
ELLEN SECOR: I think staying within ourselves, not — you know, we’ve never been down in this tournament, so the fact that we were really close to being 1-down, I don’t think we ever got worried. We had 17 — 16, 17 and 18 we knew were gettable holes, so when it got to all square after 15, or 14 actually, I put in my mind, this is a gettable course and we can beat this team on these last four holes. I think that’s how we did it. Just down the stretch, I think we stuck with our game plan and kind of stayed within ourselves. I’m so tired, but yeah.
You jumped out to an early lead, though, 3-up after 5?
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, that was crazy. I actually turned to my dad, and I was like, are we actually 3-up because it just didn’t feel like it. Me and Kate P. were just kind of playing our B+ games. But to know that we had that 3-up in our back pocket, that was really big. Obviously getting back to all square, I think having that 3-up lead, especially after the win on No. 11, that was huge, and I was telling Dad again, 3-up versus 2-up versus 1-up is so much difference, so having that 3-up just in your back pocket definitely gives you a little bit more weight off your back.
Your first two matches 4 & 2, 4 & 2. Feels a little bit different?
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, you know, I give it to the girls we did play, but I definitely think we had the advantage of experience in our hands, and age, I guess, plays a difference, and the yardage of the course. I mean, this course is really short for me and Kate P. I don’t think I ever really had a longer club than a 7-iron into a par-4. Yeah, those early leads I think were just based off a lot of experience, and we played two really good players today, and they’re graduates out of college. They’ve definitely got experience, and I owe it to them. They gave us a great match. And that’s what you’re here at the USGA for is to have matches like these where you’ve got to work really hard for that trophy, and that’s what we want.
Tell me about the approaches you both hit on 18 there. What was your distance and what clubs did you hit?
ELLEN SECOR: I had 126 in. I hit a 9-iron. Kate P. I think hit a 9-iron, 8-iron. She was down the left side in the trees. That shot was her shot of the day. I think it would have been anybody’s shot of the day, but definitely hers. For me, after those two girls hit, I was like, you know, you’ve just got to get it on the green and two-putt and make them make the birdie. Yeah, that shot was huge. That shot was definitely huge.
I spoke to Coach Young earlier today, and she said one of the things that you both can do and have done at college is make a lot of birdies.
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah.
I think you made five today.
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, you know, that was actually, I think, the least of our birdies. I don’t know what we shot as a team, but it was probably maybe 2- or 3-under. Yeah, that’s my guess. In the last four days I think we’ve shot 5-under or we’ve had the chance to shoot 5-under. Yeah, we can make a lot of birdies. Kate P. is a really good putter, and her and her dad can read the greens like nobody else, so that is a huge skill of ours is they — and I owe them most of the putts that I’ve made. They’ve given me these reads, and I just, okay, do whatever speed I like, and boom. Yeah, Coach is right, we like to make birdies, and I think it’s definitely based off of our length that we have.
Do you know that your coach has won a USGA championship?
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, that’s actually one of the reasons I went to CSU. She told me her resume in college, and I was like, that’s who I want to play for, that’s what I want to be like in college, and she’s definitely got the experience under her belt. So she knows these situations, and I’m actually going to ask her for a few tips going into tomorrow, and she’ll definitely know what to say. But yeah, she’s definitely a great coach to have.
Most of the players that come here say their goal is to make match play. Obviously you’ve done that, you’re on to the semifinals now. Was that your goal, and if so, how has that changed now?
ELLEN SECOR: My goal — I think my first goal was to be in the top-5 seeding. After the first day, it kind of cut it back to, okay, let’s just get in the top 10. Now my goal — once we made match play, my goal has just been to win the tournament. I think we definitely can do it. Me and Kate P. are really hot right now. We just made regionals. We both placed in the top 5 at our conference championship, so we’re playing really good. We’re in our games where we can really excel, especially on this course, and I’m really confident for both of us going into tomorrow. I knew this was going to be a really tough match, but I think we can win this.
You’ve got a pretty hectic schedule going on right now and the next coming weeks. Does that help you actually, because you’re so busy you don’t have time to get nervous, or are you thinking about so many things –
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, no kidding. You know, it is very hectic, but that’s the best part about it. You know, I had a lot riding on my conference tournament, and to get that top-5 finish and to make it to regionals, I don’t want my season to end, and Kate P. made it — she knew she made it. I like being busy. I absolutely love it, and I want to play for my team and represent my team as much as I possibly can, so I think that’s why we came here, too, just to kind of get good practice going into the regionals and play at a really awesome tournament.
I asked your coach, some coaches discourage their players from coming here to this tournament because of the timing, and she said, no, no, go play, get sharp, stay sharp, and the best thing to be sharp is to compete?
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, totally. And I think the biggest thing about regionals is you’ve got to putt really well and you’ve got to hit the tee ball really well, and that’s what you have to do here. If you don’t hit it in the fairway, it’s really hard to make those birdies, and if you can’t putt well, you can’t win holes. It’s kind of two plus two equals four. You’ve got to have those things kind of mesh together in order to win those holes, and I think that definitely carries over into what we need to do at regionals. It’s definitely — I hate to call it practice because this is also something that’s so important to me. It’s, I think, my sixth USGA tournament that I’ve been to, third Four Ball, and me and Kate P. have had tons of practice playing together, that I want to be here and I want to win this trophy and take it to regionals.
Is this the farthest you’ve advanced in this championship?
ELLEN SECOR: Yes. We made it to the sweet 16 — well, I call it sweet 16, but yeah, round of 16 last year. Lost to Monica Vaughn and Bailey Tardy but made it to the top four.
ELLEN SECOR: Yep, with Katrina.
And your previous appearance with another partner?
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah, Jessica Sloot. She’s also a sophomore on our golf team.
And that was in ’16?
ELLEN SECOR: Yeah — no, we just made it to round of 32.
But the previous year, in 2016?
ELLEN SECOR: Oh, yes, yes.
(FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports)