FORT MYERS, Fla. – After Mina Hardin defeated Alexandra Frazier, 2 and 1, Thursday in the final of the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, the celebration was as much about Mexico as it was the United States and a U.S. Golf Association national championship.
Hardin, one of the most grateful, articulate golfers ever to win a USGA title, was full of praise for both her native country of Mexico and her adopted country of the United States.
For the record, the USGA has jurisdiction over golf in two countries – the U.S. and Mexico – while the R & A maintains jurisdiction in all other countries.
Hardin, born in Mexico City and still a Mexican citizen despite living in Fort Worth, Texas, spoke Spanish as she addressed the maintenance crew at host Fiddlesticks Country Club. “I thanked them for all the hard work from the bottom of my heart,” she explained.
Lorena Ochoa, another Mexican golfer, wasn’t far from Hardin’s mind. When Hardin arose on Thursday morning, she said a short prayer (“Let me not squander the opportunity, let me be brave, let me finish the deal”) and then she thought of Ochoa.
“I thought to myself, ‘I could be the first woman Mexican citizen ever to win a USGA event.’ I always thought Lorena would win not one, but multiple USGA events, but she didn’t. So this was just like icing on the cake.”
The only man with Mexican citizenship to win a USGA championship? Lee Trevino, of course, who captured two U.S. Opens.
Hardin, who played on the LPGA Tour from 1983 to 1989 and thus is a reinstated amateur, had advanced to the final of the 2001 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur before losing, 4 and 3, to Laura Shanahan of Bedford, N.H.
“I beat myself beat up over that,” said Hardin, who turned 50 in September to become eligible for this championship. “I was determined to learn from it.”
And learn she did. Playing tenacious golf in the final, she overcome an opponent who had eight one-putt greens in 17 holes.
She also overcame her own pitiful performance with a 60-degree wedge. On the 11th hole and again on the 16th – two holes she lost to Frazier – Hardin emerged on the short end of a battle with Chunky Tuna.
“I chunked them. I stubbed them. I’m afraid it wasn’t the arrow,” she admitted. “It was the Indian. OK, it was the Mexican. I did it.”
Other than that, Hardin’s superb iron play was the difference in the match. She hit 10 greens in regulation, while Frazier hit only four.
There were no birdies in the final. Hardin posted 14 pars and three bogeys, while Frazier had 12 pars and five bogeys. Hardin won the second hole with a par and led for the remainder of the match, although Frazier sank a 20-foot par-saving putt on 12 and would have squared the match if Hardin had not converted a key 8-foot putt for par.
“When she made that putt, it was like, wow, I knew I had a big battle in front of me,” Hardin said. “I knew if i did not make that putt, the momentum would have absolutely, totally changed.”
Hardin won 14 to go 2 up, lost 16 to fall back to 1 up, and then closed out the match with a two-putt par from 54 feet on 17.
Although she lost, the 52-year-old Frazier seemed as happy as Hardin.
“I’m so proud of myself,” she said. “This never was a dream of mine, because it seemed so far away. It seemed unattainable.”
Frazier and her husband, Tom, an oncological surgeon, had Tuesday air reservations back to their home in Haverford, Pa. He flew, she stayed.
“I never imagined I’d still be here on Thursday,” she said. “To be honest, I just didn’t want to embarrass myself.”
Embarrass? She endeared herself to the fans, more than 100 of whom showed up to walk with the final match. By contrast, the USGA (Men’s) Senior Amateur final at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Fla., drew less than half that many spectators the week before.
Frazier, the last player to qualify for match play, was stuck with the nickname “No. 64” because 64 players engaged in match play. She ended up No. 2.
Hardin and Frazier are lucky enough to play at some of America’s most testing golf courses.
Hardin plays at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and The Palms Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif. According to a Golfweek survey from 2009, The Palms has the lowest average handicap index of all clubs in the United States when men and women are combined.
The new Senior Women’s winner also plays in the Ladies Amateur Golf Association, a group of low-handicap women in north Texas who compete in weekly tournaments.
Not to be outdone, Frazier plays at Gulph Mills Country Club in King of Prussia, Pa., and Seminole Golf Club in North Palm Beach, Fla.
An interesting back story: Hardin’s husband, Gary, is a former golf professional who also is a reinstated amateur. Coming off complex elbow surgery that kept him from playing for two years, he entered this year’s USGA Senior Amateur and ended up as the first alternate out of the North Texas qualifier.
He caddied for his wife here, withdrawing from two tournaments in Texas to do so.
“My rock, my best friend, and the best reader of greens you’ve ever seen,” said the champion.
• • •
Final: Mina Hardin, Fort Worth, Texas, def. Alexandra Frazier, Haverford, Pa., 2 and 1
Fairways hit: Hardin 10/13, Frazier 12/13
Greens hit: Hardin 10/17, Frazier 4/17
Putts: Hardin 29, Frazier 26
Up & Down (greenside): Hardin 5/8, Frazier 8/11
• • •
Final results from the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, played Oct. 9-14 at the Long Mean course at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla.:
Mina Hardin def. Alexandra Fraizer, 2 and 1
Alexandra Frazier def. Patty Moore, 2 and 1
Mina Hardin def. Mary Ann Hayward, 1 up
Alexandra Frazier def. Sherry Herman, 1 up
Patty Moore def. Deborah Anderson, 4 and 3
Mary Ann Hayward def. Claudia Pilot, 4 and 2
Mina Hardin def. Joan Higgins, 2 and 1
ROUND OF 16
Alexandra Frazier def. Lea Anne Brown, 7 and 5
Sherry Herman def. Lisa Schlesinger, 5 and 4
Patty Moore def. Cheryl Grigg, 2 up
Deborah Anderson def. Mary Jane Hiestand, 1 up
Joan Higgins def. Robyn Puckett, 4 and 3
Mary Ann Hayward def. Carol Semple Thompson, 5 and 3
Mina Hardin def. Susan Rheney, 5 and 4
Claudia Pilot def. Cindy Gilkeson, 4 and 3
ROUND OF 32
Alexandra Frazier def. Connie Shorb, 1 up
Lea Anne Brown def. Ivy Steinberg, 3 and 2
Sherry Herman def. Noreen Mohler, 3 and 2
Lisa Schlesinger def. Andrea Klaus, 1 up
Patty Moore def. Annette Gaiotti, 19 holes
Cheryl Grigg def. Diane Lang, 20 holes
Mary Jane Hiestand def. Brenda Pictor, 19 holes
Deborah Anderson def. Pegy Brady, 1 up
Mary Ann Hayward def. Ann Lahey, 7 and 5
Carol Semple Thompson def. Patricia Cornett, 19 holes
Claudia Pilot def. Deborah Jamgochian, 20 holes
Cindy Gilkeson def. Anna Schultz, 1 up
Joan Higgins def. Marlene Summers, 7 and 6
Robyn Puckett def. Lisa McGill, 4 and 3
Mina Hardin def. Ginny Burkey, 4 and 2
Susan Rheney def. Carolyn Creekmore, 1 up
ROUND OF 64
Connie Shorb def. Teresa Cleland, 1 up
Ivy Steinberg def. Mary Gale, 19 holes
Lea Anne Brown def. Tanna Richard, 2 and 1
Sherry Herman def. Joanne Catlin, 4 and 3
Noreen Mohler def. Denise Desilet, 7 and 6
Andrea Kraus def. Carol Sarkissian, 3 and 1
Lisa Schlesinger def. Diane Bohl, 5 and 3
Patty Moore def. Cheryll Damphouse, 5 and 3
Annette Gaiotti def. Lou Hart, 3 and 2
Diane Lang def. Martha Lang, 4 and 2
Cheryl Grigg def. Therese Quinn, 20 holes
Brenda Pictor def. Jeannie Lallensack, 4 and 2
Mary Jane Hiestand def. Sheila Haynes, 19 holes
Deborah Anderson def. Kim Eaton, 1 up
Peg Brady def. Taffy Brower, 19 holes
Alexandra Frazier def. Leigh Klasse, 1 up
Mary Ann Hayward def. Char McLear, 7 and 5
Ann Lahey def. Ginny Marshall, 3 and 2
Carol Semple Thompson def. Marsha Butler, 5 and 4
Patricia Cornett def. Joanne Kitusky, 1 up
Claudia Pilot def. Mitsue Lewis, 22 holes
Deborah Jamogchian def. Anne Carr, 4 and 3
Anna Schultz def. Genevieve Robinson, 2 and 1
Cindy Gilkeson def. Mimi Hoffman, 2 and 1
Joan Higgins def. Barbara Byrnes, 7 and 5
Marlene Summers def. Diana Chancellor, 2 up
Robyn Puckett def. Laura Carson, 1 up
Lisa McGill def. Cindy Bryniarski, 5 and 4
Mina Hardin def. Marianne Towersey, 4 and 3
Ginny Burkey def. Nadine Elliott, 2 and 1
Carolyn Creekmore def. Nancy Fitzgerald, 3 and 1
Susan Rheney def. Maureen Whitehead, 19 holesFurther Resources: