On Thursday, Canadian Shelly Stouffer put a bow on a commanding week of golf, taking the crown at the 60th US Senior Women’s Amateur Golf Championships.
Just how dominant was Stouffer?
In her six rounds of match play, she never set foot on the No. 17 tee box at Anchorage Golf Course, winning each match by the 16th hole.
Thursday’s championship match was more of the same for Stouffer, who topped Australian Sue Wooster 4 and 3 in an all-international final.
The victory tied Stouffer for the second-fewest holes needed to take the title, according to the USGA. Her 87 holes tied Carol Semple Thompson’s effort in winning in 2001. Ellen Port played just 85 in 2012.
With her 15-year-old son Brett caddying, Stouffer said they developed a game plan that worked and stuck to it.
“I just kept on playing my own game and hitting — we kept to our game plan,” she said. “I’m like, ‘What am I doing here, Brett? Same thing. Why change it now?’ We just kept on doing that, and it worked out really well.”
Stouffer birdied the first hole on Thursday to take a 1 up lead and maintained her lead throughout. She led 3 up on Nos. 4 and 6 with pars. On No. 7 it looked like Wooster might get one back after chipping her third shot to within a foot of the hole. Stouffer had left her third, a lag putt, well short. But she drained the par to halve the hole.
By the turn she’d accumulated a five hole lead as a gallery of about 200 people followed the action. Her good play throughout the tournament also meant Stouffer’s victories were relatively stress-free. Her closest match was in the quarterfinals, a 3 and 2 victory over fellow Canadian Judith Kyrinis.
“I’m feeling really good about my game, and I didn’t really have a lot of nerves,” she said. “Like today before all the hoopla kind of with the trophy and all that, I was like, ‘Oh, you know what, I can’t deal with that. … This is a regular game of golf today. I just kind of made it in that way, and it totally worked in my favor.”
Even when she wasn’t good, Stouffer got a little lucky. She blasted her drive right on No. 11 and hit her second shot past a cart path. Her chip was short, but bounced off another cart path and onto the green. She eventually halved the hole with a bogey.
Wooster finally got a hole back on the 14th but by that time the match was dormie and Stouffer only needed to halve the next hole to earn the win.
At first she was uncertain of having her son caddy for such a big event. He’d only been with her for one other tournament, a smaller local one in Canada.
“When I first thought Brett is coming, I was like, this might be bad, because I’m not sure,” she said. “But then after we got the first round under our belt, he was really good. He was helping with reading the greens. He knows my clubs. He knows my game because we play a lot together. Hey was great. hey was awesome He kept me calm.”
Stouffer’s great play started in Sunday’s final stroke play round when she fired a 68. She said she found a pretty immediate comfort level with the setup AGC.
“I think maybe just the 68 catapulted me into getting around this golf course,” she said. “All the tee shots actually, they all set up for me quite well. I picked the lines and I was hitting the ball really well.”
Wooster now has three runner-up finishes in the event.
“She put the pressure on, and I didn’t hit my approach shots good enough,” Wooster told the USGA. “I didn’t quite hole out a few clutch putts, but that’s the way it goes.”
Stouffer was a semifinalist last year, falling to three-time champion Port, who birdied the 18th to edge Stouffer.
Stouffer was reinstated as an amateur in 2011. Before that, she had a 14-year career as a professional golfer and played in six major championships.
Stouffer, who is from Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island, BC, had a contingent of Canadian friends mob her after the victory. She said she’d received a supportive text from fellow Canadian Marlene Streit, a three-time champion of the event and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“The Canadians are so supportive of everybody, (of) each other,” she said. “It’s amazing.”