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Port, Eckelkamp will play in upcoming 33rd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship

Ellen Port is seeking an eighth United States Golf Association title.

Port, 57, and Kayla Eckelkamp, 28, of Washington, will tee it up and play in the upcoming 33rd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.

Ellen Port is seeking an eighth United States Golf Association title. Port, 57, and Kayla Eckelkamp, of Washington, will tee it up and play in the upcoming 33rd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. (USGA photo)

If Port, of St. Louis, wins the tournament, it would tie her with JoAnne Carner for the most by a female player and also tie her with Jack Nicklaus. Only Bob Jones and Tiger Woods have won more USGA championships, with nine apiece.

The tournament begins Saturday and runs through Sept. 19 at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Port has won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur four times. Her victories came in 1996, 1996, 2000, and 2011.

Port also competed in the recent 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. She reached the Round of 32. Last year, she became the second-oldest player to make match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Port has won that tournament three times in 2012, 2013, and 2016.

Port has represented the USA in the Curtis Cup twice (1994 and 1996) and captained the team to victory in 2014 at St. Louis Country Club.

She recently won the 2019 North & South Senior Women’s Championship in Pinehurst, N.C.

As a former champion, Port had an exemption to play.

Eckelkamp, a Maryville University graduate, also played in the tournament last year at Norwood Hills Country Club. She won the qualifier at WingHaven Country Club to earn her spot in the tournament.

A starting field of 132 players will compete in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. Following 18-hole rounds of stroke play Saturday and Sunday, the field will be cut to the top 64 players for match play. Five 18-hole rounds of match play will determine the finalists, who will square off in an 18-hole championship match.

Eckelkamp tees off on No. 10 at 12:20 p.n. Saturday. Her playing partners are Hilary Hall and Margaret Starosto.

Hall, who now lives in Dublin, Ireland, originally is from Virginia. Starosto, 33, of Woodstock, Georgia, won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. She finished second the 2013 and 2015 tournaments.

Port will tee off at 1:20 p.m. Saturday on No. 1. She will be playing with Ericka Diaz and Meghan Moake, of Houston, Texas.

Last year, the 2018 championship at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis. Shannon Johnson, 35, of Norton, Mass., who was the runner-up in 2016 and a semifinalist in 2017, claimed the title with a 1-up victory over defending champion Kelsey Chugg, of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the 18-hole final.

The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship originated in 1987 and was created to provide a national competitive arena for female amateurs age 25 and older. In 2017, the USGA announced that the winner of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur will receive an exemption into the following year’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship.

The average age of the 132 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur competitors is 38.9 years old.

Brooke Kochevar, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., is the championship’s youngest competitor. She turned 25 on July 18. She is one of seven competitors in the field who are 25 years old. The championship’s oldest competitor is Jewell Malick, of Heath, Texas, who is 70 years old.

There are seven countries and there are 31 states represented in the championship.

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