Lara Tennant’s defense of her U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur golf title didn’t get off to an easy start on Saturday.
Tennant’s group was one of the earliest out on Anchorage Golf Course as a steady rain pelted golfers for the better part of their round.
But no matter. The three-time defending champion from Portland, Oregon, held steady and is a co-leader after the first round of stroke play at the championship.
Tennant, Lynne Cowan, Sherry Soto and Sue Wooster all fired 2-over rounds of 74 to finish in a first-place tie after Saturday’s opening round. After Sunday’s stroke play round, the field will be cut to 64 and the competition will be decided by match play going forward.
“It’s definitely a challenge and the first nine holes, the rain never stopped,” Tennant said. “So that made it even more challenging. It’s a tough course and you have to think on every shot. But that’s what a USGA championship is.”
Tennant said she took a conservative approach and is still trying to learn the course, especially the greens.
“The green complexes are very complex,” she said. “So it’s a challenge for everybody. But putting, you have to put it in the right position and just make some putts.”
Soto, from Chino Hills, California, was the only one of the leaders to tee off after the rain subsided.
She said that play around the green buoyed her round, which included 14 pars.
“Just trying to get up and down,” she said. “You know, sometimes the approach shots weren’t that great, but I was able to chip and make putts so that was the key.”
Wooster, an Australian, teed off at 7:40 a.m. and was one group behind Tennant. She made four birdies on the day, including a long putt on No. 13.
“Generally I putted well and hit it pretty straight,” she said. “I haven’t played in a lot of rain lately, so it brought back some memories, I guess.”
Cowan got hot late in her round. The Rocklin, California, golfer birdied three of the last five holes including 17 and 18.
Just two shots back from the leaders is English golfer Aileen Greenfield, who qualified after winning the Royal and Ancient Women’s Senior Amateur Championship in 2021.
Greenfield, who golfs out of Pyecombe in West Sussex, played annually in the U.S. before COVID-19. She said the Anchorage course reminded her of others she’s played in England much more than the Florida courses she’s generally played in the U.S.
“This one is really similar to England,” she said. “The grass is very similar to the English-Scottish-Welsh courses and greens are very similar.”
She was trending toward a 74 herself before a double bogey on the 16th pushed her to 4-over par.
“I was tidy on the front and not so on the back nine,” she said. “So I just need to reset after nine, I think, and then just play the front back nine like I did the front.”
Alaska’s lone representative in the tournament, Hope’s Pam Chesla, was in the first group to tee off as rain came down Saturday morning.
“Maybe it made me a little nervous at first but the support is just great,” she said. “The women here are awesome.”
Chesla shot a +23 on the day, putting her in a tough spot to make up ground in Sunday’s final round of stroke play.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night, I’ll say that,” Chesla said. “I tossed and turned. Different bed, different place, but tomorrow is another day.”
The tournament, which is free and open to public spectators, continues Sunday with the final round of stroke play. Visit USGA.org for an updated scoreboard.