Port seeks eighth state championship
By: Warren Mayes
Ellen Port is about to get back into golf in a big way this month.
The reigning USGA Mid Amateur champion who turned 50 last fall will be among the competitors at the 74th Missouri Women’s Golf Association Amateur Championship which will get under way Wednesday (July 11) at Shadow Glen Golf Club in Olathe, Kan. The event is a 54-hole stroke play event.
“I am very ready as I have only played in one tournament thus far,” said Port, who teaches and coaches at John Burroughs. “This kicks off a July for me that has the Missouri Amateur, The Women’s North and South Invitation in Pinehurst, N.C.; and then The Women’s U.S. Amateur (Aug. 6). It will be good to get back.”
This year’s field has some of the finest women amateur golfers in Missouri. Eligible players are residents of Missouri and Johnson County, Kan. or those attending a college or university in Missouri or Johnson County, Kan.
The defending champion is Catherine Dolan and the recent Missouri State graduate, returns after another year of qualifying for match play at the recent USGA Women’s Public Links Championship at Neshanic Valley Golf Club in New Jersey. Dolan, a Parkway West graduate, lost 2 & 1 to Demi Francis Runas, of Torrence, Calif., in the USGA event.
Last year, Dolan rallied to win the Missouri Women’s Amateur Championship at Bellerive Country Club.
Port returns in her quest to earn a record eighth MWGA Amateur title. She won her last championship in 2010 at Lake Forest Country Club in Lake St. Louis.
Despite not playing a great deal so far this season, Port said she believes her game is in good shape.
“I feel really good about my game and have no reason not to play with confidence,” Port said. “I feel like I can be confident in and aggressive in the way I tackle the golf course.”
The field is a deep and strong. It features several talented golfers.
Missouri’s 2011 Mid Amateur Champion Lacy Shelton is also teeing it up in her first amateur championship. Springfield’s Stephany Powell holds four runner-up finishes and will be playing as current the 2012 Missouri senior champion.
“It’s a very strong field,” Port said. “The usual top players from St. Louis will be there. There continues to be more young collegiate players participating so this is great. I am playing a practice round with the Kansas high school state champion. It is always fun to meet new people and play with the youngsters.”
However, Dolan figures to be among the top contenders for the championship.
Dolan capped off a stellar high school career at Parkway West by winning the state Class 2 tournament and then capturing the state junior title in 2008. She was the medalist at the Girls Four-State Championship, earning the victory over the best players from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska
Port has played at Shadow Glen before. The state championship was held there in 1998. Port shot a 70 on the last day, recording three birdies on the back nine but it wasn’t enough. She lost by two strokes to Jamie Tucker(who shot a 71). She was a sophomore at KU (Kansas). It was a very exciting finish to that tournament. To be honest, I don’t remember a thing about the course but it is suppose to be one of the best in the state.
Tucker ended her playing career with two Missouri championships. She married Skip Berkmeyer and now follows his game.
For Port to win her eighth title, she said she must do several things.
“Some things I will need to do in order to give myself a chance to win are to put my mind in position to hit a quality shot and putt every time,” Port said. “I will need to re-establish my pre-shot routine and stick to it. I must remain patient with myself and enjoy the moment, and I have to capitalize on the majority of my good shots, and minimize my mistakes, recovering well from them when they do occur.”
Port plans to stay bush. She will defend her USGA Mid-AM title in early October at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio. She plans to possibly play in her first USGA Senior Amateur in Hershey, Penn., at the beginning of September.