The 52nd U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, conducted this week at CordeValle in the scenic hills south of San Jose, has featured a familiar face.
Ellen Port, a physical education teacher from St. Louis, is defending her title with more than a little fight. She has reached today's quarterfinals of the SWA, one of the 13 national championships conducted each year by the United States Golf Association.
Local golf fans will remember Port. She won the 1994 Women's Trans National at Del Rio Country Club. The Trans, still one of the top women's amateur events, twice was staged at Del Rio. Carol Semple Thompson won it in 1986.
Port's victory in '94 was memorable for a few reasons. It was a breakthrough win for her during a year she would make her first appearance in the Curtis Cup. In the final, she earned a hard-fought 2-and-1 win over fifth-year Oregon senior Shannon Hare. The two walked off the final green arm-and-arm.
"I waited so long for this moment," said Port, who was 32. "This is the most fun thing I've ever done in sports."
Port's fun has continued. She has won four U.S. Mid-Amateurs in addition to her SWA, honors which will lead her to a special week later this year. She will be the captain of the U.S. team at the 38th Curtis Cup, set for her hometown at St. Louis CC.
The win by Port in '94 capped a stirring run of women's amateur golf in Modesto. Besides the victories by her and Thompson, Anne Sander another outstanding career amateur won the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur at Del Rio in 1990.
THE SHAG BAG Turlock's Paul Smith finished his first tournament at USC with a thunder bolt. The former Turlock High and Cal State Stanislaus star drove a short par-4 and holed a 12-footer for eagle last week at the season-opening Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational at Gold Mountain in Bremerton, Wash. The eagle gave Smith a 69 for a 54-hole total of 2-under 214 (72-73-69) and a tie for seventh overall. Paul succeeds his brother Sam, a 2013 All-American at USC. ... Long Beach State sophomore Shawnee Martinez of Modesto picked up her second top-20 finish with a tie for 14th at the Minnesota Invitational. Martinez, the three-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion and a graduate of Enochs High School, shot 78-75-77 at Minikahda Golf Club. ... Fred Couples has joined the field for the 10th Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, the Champions Tour stop, Friday through Sunday. ...
Entries are available for the 21st Andy Silva Junior Golf Foundation Memorial Tournament, honoring the late long-time pro at Dryden Park, to be held Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Diablo Grande Legends course. The tournament has become one of the major fundraisers for River Oaks' popular junior golf program, which has produced some of the top juniors in California over its 20-year run.
Here's one of many reasons why the foundation remains successful: River Oaks teaching pro Greg Silva, Andy's son, said more than 150 sets of golf clubs have been given away to childen over the years. To sign up, call 667-7272.
HOLE-IN-ONE Morgan Gonzalez, Escalon, 71-yard third at Escalon, pitching wedge.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter, @modbeesports.