Ellen Port is set to tee it up in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship.
The first ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open visits Chicagoland. It begins Thursday (July 12) and runs through Sunday. It will be played at the historic Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. The field will include 120 players and is open to professionals and amateur golfers who are 50 years of age and are exempt or qualify for the championship.
Port, 56, has a sterling amateur record. She is one of the most accomplished women amateur players in history.
She won the 2016 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and the victory marked her seventh United States Golf Association title; She also has won the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur in 2012 and ’13, and the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in 1995, ’96, 2000 and ’11.
Earlier this season, Port won the her 16th Metropolitan Women’s Amateur Championship at Sunset Hills Country Club.
After not playing as much for the past three years, Port is returning to tournament golf.
Port would like to get her game back up to speed.
“It’s being resurrected. I’m a little inconsistent,” Port said. “I’ve had rounds where I’m in synch and I’m good and then I’m off. My confidence is off a little bit. I played only one major tourney last year in the Women’s Senior.
“I had no other big events. I’ve had almost two years off from playing. I’m more used to playing causal golf. I’m not where I need to be.”
The only way to get where she wants to be, Port said, it to play more.
“You’ve got to play your way into shape if you don’t play on a consistent basis,” Port said. “Golf doesn’t owe you anything. You have to make the swing. You have to make your mind and body do what it needs to do in tournament golf.”
Eligibility for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open championship was limited to professional and amateur female players, age 50 and older.
Port have an early start Thursday. She will tee off at No. 10. On Friday, she tees off at 12:10 p.m. on No. 1. Her playing partnes are Laura Shanahan Rowe, of Hampton, N.H.; and fellow amateur Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky.
The field boasts 15 U.S. Women’s Open champions in Amy Alcott (1980), Pat Bradley (1981), Jerilyn Britz (1979), Laura Davies (1987), Jane Geddes (1986), JoAnne Carner (1971, 1976), Juli Inkster (1999, 2002), Betsy King (1989, 1990), Murle Lindstrom Breer (1962), Lauri Merten (1993), Liselotte Neumann (1988), Alison Nicholas (1997), Sandra Palmer (1975), Hollis Stacy (1977, 1978, 1984), and Jan Stephenson (1983).
Including Port, there are 29 amateurs in the 120-player field.
The championship format will mirror that of the U.S. Open: 72 holes of stroke play on four consecutive days with a cut after 36 holes. To mirror the other Open championships conducted by the USGA, the U.S. Senior Women’s Open will be a walking-only competition.
The starting field will be cut to the low 50 scorers, including ties after the second round.
Chicago Golf Club will be set up at 6,088 yards. It will play to a par of 36-37–73.
Nancy Lopez is serving as the honorary starter of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship.
The U.S. Senior Women’s Open will feature $1 million in prize money. The winner will also receive a 13-pound sterling silver trophy that was designed and produced by English silversmith Nicholas Winton and is the heaviest of the USGA’s Open championship trophies.
Chicago Golf Club is a fitting host for this first ever competition given its rich history as the oldest 18-hole course in North America and one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association. Founded in 1893 and designed by CB Macdonald, Chicago Golf Club has hosted the US Open three times (1897, 1900, 1911), the US Amateur four times (1897, 1905, 1909, 1912), the US Women’s Amateur in 1903, the US Senior Amateur in 1979 and the Walker Cup in 1928 and 2005.