Kraus falls to ‘amaz­ing’ Port in U.S. Se­nior Women’s Am­a­teur

Sughrue men’s run­ner-up; Phelps in celebrity match

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - — Jonas Shaf­fer

An­drea Kraus of Bal­ti­more lost, 3 and 2, in the fi­nal of the U.S. Se­nior Women’s Am­a­teur at the Welles­ley (Mass.) Coun­try Club on Thurs­day, but there’s hardly any shame in fall­ing short against one of the great­est USGA cham­pi­ons of all time.

Ellen Port of St. Louis earned her sev­enth ca­reer USGA cham­pi­onship, one be­hind Hall of Famer JoAnne Gun­der­son Carner.

“Ellen is amaz­ing,” Kraus said. “She’s a lovely hu­man be­ing and I give her in­cred­i­ble ku­dos. She’s got a fam­ily, she does it all.”

In ad­di­tion to Carner, only Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods with nine, and Jack Nick­laus with eight have won more USGA cham­pi­onships than Port. Port’s 7-1 record is the best among fe­male play­ers who have reached six or more USGA fi­nals.

Port’s only pre­vi­ous meet­ing with Kraus came 21 years ago in the 1995 U.S. Women’s Mid-Am­a­teur at Es­sex County Club in nearby Man­ches­ter-by-the-Sea, where Port won the match and went on to claim her first USGA cham­pi­onship.

In a tight, back-and-forth fi­nal, Port took con­trol with win­ning pars on Nos. 10 and 14, the lat­ter on an 8-foot putt. Port closed out the match on the 16th hole with a two-putt from 30 feet that pre­vailed over Kraus’ missed 10-footer for par.

Port was the equiv­a­lent of 2 un­der par over 16 holes, with the usual match-play con­ces­sions, in­clud­ing a 30-foot birdie on the par-3 12th hole that Kraus matched from half that dis­tance.

Kraus started strong by hit­ting her ap­proach on the par-4 first hole to 3 feet for a win­ning birdie. But she gave it back with an er­rant tee shot on the third hole that stopped inches from go­ing out of bounds. A dou­ble-bo­gey 6 squared the match.

Kraus re­gained the lead on the next hole when Port missed a 4-foot down­hill par putt. Port won Nos. 7 and 8 with con­ceded birdies for a1-up lead, but Kraus came back with her best shot of the match, a wedge to a foot for a con­ceded birdie on the par-5 ninth. It would be the last hole she would win. She wound up the equiv­a­lent of 4 over for the match.

“It’s been a bit of a strug­gle all week with my swing,” said Kraus, who went ex­tra holes twice Wed­nes­day to reach the fi­nal, de­feat­ing medal­ist Ju­dith Kyri­nis in the quar­ter­fi­nals (21 holes) and de­fend­ing cham­pion Karen Gar­cia in the semis (19 holes). “It was sheer grit and de­ter­mina- tion that re­ally got me here. Maybe yes­ter­day took a lit­tle out of me. I didn’t re­ally have my best game, but I had the best that I could do to­day.

“I wish I could bring home the tro­phy be­cause Ellen has had it so many times. But that’s be­cause she’s great. This was so ex­cit­ing. I’m de­lighted [with my week].”

Port also won the event for play­ers 50-and-over in 2012 and 2013 and the U.S. Women’s Mid-Am­a­teur in 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2011.

“It’s al­ways great to win a USGA cham­pi­onship,” Port said. “You work so hard to get here and it’s just so spe­cial when you can fin­ish it off.” Sughrue loses men’s fi­nal: Dave Ryan won the U.S. Se­nior Am­a­teur for his first USGA cham­pi­onship, hold­ing off Matthew Sughrue, a Bethesda Coun­try Club mem­ber from Arlington, Va., 2 up, at Old War­son Coun­try Club in St. Louis.

Sughrue won the open­ing hole, but Ryan took the next five, mak­ing a 12-footer for birdie on No. 2, a two-putt par to Sughrue’s bo­gey on No. 3, a 7-footer for birdie on No. 4, a 20-footer for birdie on No. 5 and a 15-footer for birdie on the par-5 sixth.

Sughrue ral­lied to tie, tak­ing the par-4 11th with a par, the par-512th and par-313th with birdies and the par-415th with a par.

Ryan won the 621-yard, par-5 16th with a par. Sughrue missed the green left and down a ridge and his 15-footer for a halve lipped out. They halved the par-317th with pars, and Ryan ended the match with a con­ceded par on the par-418th.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing. I felt like I had enough game to come back and win, and it just didn’t fall my way,” Sughrue said. “He’s a great player and he put on a great ex­hi­bi­tion to­day. But I’ll take so­lace in know­ing that I prob­a­bly shook him up a lit­tle bit with some of the shots that I had and made it a match. I’ll take that as a good in­di­ca­tion of where my game is in se­nior am­a­teur golf.” Celebrity match: Michael Phelps and Bill Mur­ray will join Kurt Rus­sell, Rob Rig­gle and other stars in the Ry­der Cup’s Celebrity Match on Tues­day in Chaska, Minn.

The nine-hole scram­ble show match will pit eight play­ers rep­re­sent­ing the United States against eight play­ers rep­re­sent­ing Europe.

Golf tour­na­ments are old hat by now for Phelps, who worked with noted in­struc­tor Hank Haney af­ter the Lon­don Olympics. Af­ter Phelps strug­gled to break 115 in an 18-hole round, he said in 2013 that he was down to scores in the mid-80s.

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