October 1, 2015
NorCal’s Karen Garcia Wins U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship
Make it three USGA titles for Northern California in 2015.
On Thursday, Karen Garcia of Cool, which is located near Sacramento, won the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship, defeating Pamela Kuong of Massachusetts, 1-up, in the finals at Hillwood Country Club in Tennessee.
The 53-year-old Garcia, who was making her championship debut, is the first Northern California player to win the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur since Lois Hodge of Los Altos won in 1988. Loma Smith of Pebble Beach also won the title, repeating as champion in 1964 and 1965.
It was the first time that Garcia, who had her husband Ruben on the bag all week as caddie, had ever advanced to match play in a USGA championship.
“I’m in shock,” said the champion. “To win a USGA event, to think of all the people before me that have their name on this trophy; I’ve played in five Mid-Ams and a State Team and never even come close.”
The Auburn Valley GC member came up with some late fireworks. Trailing Kuong by one through the 16th hole, Garcia won both the 17th and 18th holes with pars to take the title. Garcia’s advantage in length would help on the 460-yard par-5 17th.
“I knew that I had an advantage length-wise,” Garcia told the USGA. “So I felt like I still had a chance. I told my husband, let’s win the next two holes and we’ll be fine.”
When Kuong won the 16th, it ended a streak of 44 consecutive holes where Garcia had either led or was all-sqaure. In the morning semifinals, Garcia never trailed in defeating No. 27 Sue Cohn of Florida, 1-up. She also defeated Cohn with a par on the 18th.
Garcia continued her run early against Kuong, birdieing the second hole to take a 1-up lead. A win on No. 3 and another birdie on No. 9 gave her a 3-up lead as the two made the turn.
Kuong cut into the lead with a birdie of her own on the 11th and later added back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes to bring the match back to all-square. Kuong won the 16th when Garcia made double-bogey.
Garcia barely made it through the opening Round of 64. She trailed No. 10 seed and 2014 quarterfinalist Kim Eaton by three through seven before rallying back for a 1-up win. In the Round of 32, Garcia trailed by one through 10 before claiming a 1-up victory.
This summer, Clovis resident Bryson DeChambeau (U.S. Amateur) and Olympic Club member Hannah O’Sullivan (U.S. Women’s Amateur) also won USGA titles.