It never gets old for Lara Tennant. Certainly not the winning, which includes three U.S Senior Women’s Amateur titles in 2018, 2019 and 2021, nor earning co-medalist honors for this championship, which she did in 2017 and 2021.
But at Troon Country Club, the Portland, Ore. resident earned a new honor: solo medalist.
“I had no thoughts on being medalist today,” said Tennant. “I was just trying to learn the golf course and just hit good shots.” She accomplished both of those goals, finishing with birdies on two of her last holes, on her way to earning the No. 1 seed in the national championship’s match-play bracket.
“On the seventh, it was a tough pin placement, tough hole,” she said. “I just hit a really good tee shot and made a good putt, about a 25-footer. That was nice because it was one of the first putts I made today. I missed some other birdie putts that sometimes I make more often. Then I hit a great shot on nine, so it was a lot easier making a two-foot putt there for birdie.”
While pleased with her scores, Tennant quickly shifted her focus to match play, which begins on Monday.
“I don’t really have that type of superstition,” said Tennant on being concerned that only two medalists in the championship, including herself, have gone on to win the championship since match play began in 1997. “I probably have a lot of other superstitions, but that’s definitely not one of them.”
“You know, really, the goal in a match play tournament is just to make the cut,” she said. “But it’s always nice to be medalist.”
That honor however, plus her impressive playing record in the championship, will be the farthest things from her mind on Monday. “I wipe that out totally and all I’m thinking about is hitting a good tee shot out on No. 1,” she said. “That’s the only thing I can control.”
Tennant’s stroke play total of 2-over par bested a familiar face by three strokes: fellow three-time U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur champion Ellen Port of St. Louis, Mo. The two were partners in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, and Tennant edged Port 2 and 1 later that year in the final of the Senior Women’s Amateur.
Defending champion Shelly Stouffer of Nanoose Bay, B.C. is also well-positioned heading into match play, ending in a tie for third place and earning the No. 3 seed in the match-play bracket.
“My game feels good right now,” said Stouffer. “I’m hitting the ball pretty well and putting well. I don’t think I had any three-putts today, which was nice because the greens are tricky here. So, I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. Everything is good.”
Stouffer and Tennant were paired together in the two qualifying rounds for the championship.
Troon Country Club member Amy Warner is the caddie for Stouffer. They met in April when Stouffer played a practice round at Troon Country Club. Warner, the club’s 2023 Women’s Stroke Play and 2023 Women’s Net Club champion, is also hosting Stouffer and her mother this week at her home.
“It’s a totally different game,” Stouffer said when asked about match play. “I like match play, I seem to do quite well at it. So, I feel like it’s really anybody’s game, just who shows up to the golf course. Hopefully my A-game shows up every day, and if I don’t need it and I can still win that’s great.”
Also making it to match play in the championship:
Stouffer is the defending champion, having won this title last year when it was held at Anchorage (Alaska) Golf Course. She was named the 2022 PNGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year. Two weeks ago she won the PNGA Senior Women’s Amateur, which she also won in 2022. Stouffer is the No. 3 seed in this year’s match play bracket.
Terri Frohnmayer of Meridian, Idaho – Frohnmayer won this national championship in 2011, which propelled her to being named the 2011 PNGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year.
Ginny Burkey of Eugene, Ore. – Burkey is an 8-time champion of the PNGA Women’s Senior Team, a two-time winner of Washington Senior Amateur, and was twice named the WA Golf Senior Women’s Player of the Year. She currently is the Vice President on the PNGA Board of Directors.
Qualifying for the championship but not advancing to match play are PNGA Hall of Famer Jackie Little of Vernon, B.C.; Rosie Cook of Bend, Ore., who won the 2021 PNGA Senior Women’s Amateur; PNGA Hall of Famer Mary Budke of Rancho Mirage, Calif.; and Kim Shek of Bellevue, Wash., the 2022 WA Golf Senior Women’s Player of the Year.