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NORTON, Massachusetts – Four Massachusetts golfers are off to where no USGA® event has gone before: Alaska. Anchorage Golf Course is hosting the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, the first USGA Championship ever held in what is fittingly The Last Frontier state.
The competitors representing the Bay State are Winchester’s Tracy Welch (Winchester Country Club), Wellesley’s Pamela Kuong (Charles River Country Club), Oxford’s Christine Gagner (The Tour of Greater Boston) and Marion’s Temple Mitchell (Allendale Country Club). The championship begins Saturday, July 30 and concludes with the final match Thursday, August 4.
All four Massachusetts golfers qualified at the Acoaxet Club in Westport last month.
Welch shared medalist honors with Quebec native Marie Therese Torti at Acoaxet after both shot a 2-over 74 on the seaside, nine-hole course. It was Welch’s second year advancing to the championship with the top spot in qualifying after doing the same last year at Marshfield Country Club.
“I thought I played very steady,” Welch said of her performance at the Acoaxet qualifier. “And I think that the greens here are magnificent and a lot of undulation and I felt like I putted them well, so I was happy about that.”
Tying for third behind Welch were Kuong and Gagner, who each shot a 5-over 77 to finish at the cutline. Kuong made four straight pars to secure her spot after getting into trouble her second time around holes 4 and 5. Gagner made par on the par-4 final hole as well to qualify without a playoff.
After finishing just one stroke back of the cutline, Mitchell went to a playoff against Philadelphia native Lisa McGill to determine the order of the two alternate positions. Replaying hole 9 for the third time of the afternoon, Mitchell clocked a strong approach shot to put herself in favorable position on the green. A long birdie putt gave her the first alternate spot, later opening the door for her to make the field.
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Saturday, July 30 – First round, stroke play, 18 holes
Sunday, July 31 – Second round, stroke play, 18 holes
Monday, Aug. 1 – Round of 64, match play
Tuesday, Aug. 2 – Round of 32 and Round of 16, match play
Wednesday, Aug. 3 – Quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, match play
Thursday, Aug. 4 – Championship match, 18 holes
The Massachusetts representatives in the championship will head to Anchorage with impressive golf resumes at both the state and national levels.
In her first U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur appearance last year, Welch advanced the farthest of any Bay State competitor as the youngest golfer in the field. Welch reached the Round of 16 before losing a back-and-forth, 22-hole battle against Belgium’s Sylvie Van Molle. She advanced to match play after tying for 24th in stroke play, defeating Japan’s Itsuko Moridaira 3&2 in the Round of 64 and Tara Fleming of Jensen Beach, Florida 1-up in the Round of 32.
The 2022 championship is Welch’s 22nd USGA Championship, as well as her second U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. At the state level, Welch has three titles: two in the Massachusetts Women’s Amateur Championship (1998, 2006) and one in the Massachusetts Girls Junior Amateur Championship (1986).
“I’m thrilled to represent Massachusetts,” Welch said. “I think it’s going to be very exciting to be out there and I think the weather will be interesting.”
The event will be a family affair for Welch, who will attend the championship with her parents — one of whom is Jane Faxon Welch, a multiple-time champion at the state level who also captured the 1960 Massachusetts Girls Junior Amateur crown. Welch’s daughters Victoria and Amanda Adams, also frequent standouts at championships in the Bay State, have been part of her preparation for the event as well, including a win with Amanda at the Mother-Daughter Championship earlier this month.
“In terms of preparation, I’m taking my daughters to an AJGA qualifier,” Welch joked. “No, I’ll just keep practicing, and our state amateur is actually in August, so you just keep working away, keep working on putting, chipping, everything.”
Kuong will also attempt to return to match play after reaching the Round of 32 in 2021, which she advanced to after tying for 15th in stroke play and besting Loraine Jones of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania in the Round of 64.
A multiple-time competitor in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, Kuong was the 2015 runner-up after facing Karen Garcia in the final round. Kuong also has plenty of success to her name at the state level, including the 2008 Massachusetts Women’s Amateur title. The Wellesley native was awarded the inaugural Mass Golf Women’s Senior Player of the Year Award in 2020 and won the honor again last year.
Gagner is no stranger to the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur either with multiple USGA championships under her belt, including previous U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs and an appearance in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in 2015. Gagner is also a three-time champion in the Endicott Cup, which she’s described as her favorite tournament.
Mitchell returns to the championship for the first time since 2019, when she played in the first two rounds of stroke play but did not make the cut for match play. Mitchell is also a previous winner of the 2018 Sheeran Trophy, which she won with her husband Bob, and the 2018 Mother-Son Championship, which she won with her son Jackson.
Massachusetts is one of 35 states represented in the championship. The Bay State will send the sixth-most golfers of any state, tied with Colorado and Pennsylvania. California leads with 18 golfers in the field.
The championship proper features five previous U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Champions: Terri Frohnmayer (2011), Judith Kyrinis (2017), Ellen Port (2012, 2013, 2016), Lara Tennant (2018, 2019, 2021) and Carol Semple Thompson (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002). Tennant, a native of Portland, Oregon, has won the championship the last three times it has been contested. There are seven previous runners-up in the field, including Kuong.
Two competitors — Thompson and Mary Budke — have won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Nine have won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, including Thompson.
The youngest player in the field, Ulrika Migliaccio, turned 50 last month. The oldest competitor, Robyn Puckett, is 75.
The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur was first held in 1962 to determine the country’s top woman golfer age 50 or older. While multiple senior women’s golf organizations had been formed, there was a desire to form a unified championship that would determine a winner at the national level — paving the way for the USGA to form the annual championship.
The field consists of 132 golfers who play in 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying before the field is cut to 64 for match play.
Carolyn Cudone of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has the most wins of any competitor with five titles, won consecutively from 1968 to 1972.
The USGA announced in October 2020 that it would bring the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship to Anchorage Golf Course, the first USGA Championship hosted on The Last Frontier. When the competition begins, the USGA will have hosted a championship in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Alaska has been home to annual U.S. Open qualifiers, as well as qualifiers for previous Senior Women’s Amateurs.
Here’s what you need to know about Anchorage Golf Course:
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