The USGA has held the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur since 1962, and used match play to determine a winner since 1997, but it has never seen the two finalists from one year return for a championship rematch the next. Never, that is, until Thursday at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club, when Lara Tennant and Sue Wooster shook hands for a second straight time to see who would claim the title.
Unfortunately for Wooster, a native of Australia, the outcome was the same. Tennant won the eighth, 10th and 11th holes with pars before going on to win by an identical 3-and-2 margin and becoming the ninth woman to successfully defend her title.
“This week, my swing wasn’t as crisp as it was last year,” Tennant said. “There were times I was confident this week and I played well, but I would say mentally you just have to grind it out, play against par instead of your opponent. That’s what I continued to do throughout the week, to stay calm.”
Tennant, 52, was helped by the fact her path to the finals was less stressful than Wooster’s. A mother of five whose youngest finished high school last spring, Tennant won her Wednesday morning quarterfinal match with Lynne Cowan, 5 and 4, then defeated Patricia Ehrhart, 4 and 2, in the semifinals. Conversely, Wooster, 57, won both of her Wednesday matches by narrow 1-up margins.
“Imagine, 132 players and it comes down to us again,” Wooster said upon reaching the finals.
The déjà vu from 2018 continued as Tennant broke out the same clothes she worn in last year’s final.
She also had her father, George Mack Sr., on her bag as her caddie once again in Iowa. Mack, 79, introduced Tennant and her four siblings to golf when they were kids. All of them caddied for dad at some point in amateur tournaments. In turn, Mack has caddied for Tennant in all three of her U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur starts, helping her compile a 11-1 match-play record.
Tennant wasn’t thinking repeat, however, when she she arrived as the defending champion.
“When I shot 70 in the first round of stroke play,” Tennant explained, “I said I’m so glad I played OK, so that people won’t think my victory was a fluke.”
No one believes she’s a fluke now. Especially not Wooster.