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PNGA Player of the Year Lara Tennant captures U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur

Lara Tennant arrived at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club having won just one match in a USGA amateur championship in eight starts. Thanks to a week of solid ball-striking and coolness under pressure, the 51-year-old Portland, Ore., resident will be leaving as the 57th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion. Tennant never trailed on Thursday, defeating Sue Wooster, 56, of Australia, 3 and 2, in the 18-hole championship match.

Lara Tennant raises the trophy after she defeated Sue Wooster 3 & 2 during the final round at the 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, Fla. on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (All photos copyright USGA/Fred Vuich)

Click here for complete coverage of the 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.

Tennant was able to build a cushion on the back nine on Thursday by taking advantage of some late miscues by Wooster. Leading 3 up through 12 holes, Tennant found trouble on the par-5 13th, and settled for a conceded bogey. With the door open to pull closer, Wooster three-putted from 40 feet to keep Tennant’s lead at 3 up. On the next hole, Wooster hit her approach shot from 146 yards just over the green and chipped to 8 feet. After Tennant missed a birdie try from 18 feet, Wooster wasn’t able to convert her par putt, putting Tennant 4 up with 4 holes to play.

Lara Tennant plays her tee shot at the fourth hole during the final round at the 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, Fla.

Nerves might have played a role coming down the stretch for Tennant, the No. 10 seed in match play. Safely on the green with her tee shot on the par-3 15th hole, she watched as Wooster lagged her lengthy birdie try to 3 feet, effectively giving Tennant two putts to win the match. However, she left her first putt from 40 feet 18 feet short, and she couldn’t make her par save. Wooster made par to extend the match and win her only hole of the day. Tennant found herself in a similar position on the following hole, the par-4 16th, when she hit her approach shot from the right rough to about 35 feet past the hole from 125 yards. She had no issues with her lag putting this time, cozying it up to concession range and sealing the victory.

Tennant led from the outset on Thursday, rolling in a 12-foot birdie try on No. 1. Her lead could have been even larger had Wooster, who struggled with her putter most of the day, not made a 40-foot, downhill birdie putt on the third hole. Tennant, who had hit her approach shot from 125 yards to 9 feet, rolled in her birdie try to halve the hole. After seven straight halved holes, Tennant took a 2-up lead at the turn when she made a 20-foot downhill putt to save par on No. 9 after Wooster couldn’t get up and down from the bunker fronting the green.

Lara Tennant gives her father/caddie, George Mack, a kiss after she won the 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, Fla.

Tennant was a co-medalist in the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. Tennant, who played college golf at the University of Arizona, played in the 2000 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur on her home course, Waverley Country Club. Her husband, Bob, grew up in a house on the 12th hole at Waverley, and her father, George Mack Sr., learned how to play at the course.

She captured two Oregon Golf Association championships in 2017: the Oregon Senior Women’s Amateur and Oregon Women’s Mid-Amateur, which she also won in 2003 and 2008. Last year she was named the 2017 PNGA Senior Women’s Player of the Year.

She serves on the Executive Committee of the Oregon Golf Association.

Tennant is the second Oregon native to capture a national title at the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in the past few years. In 2011, Terri Frohnmayer of Salem, Ore. won the championship. This year, Frohnmayer made it to the Round of 32 in the match-play bracket.