Three years ago she made it all the way to the final before losing to Joan Higgins by the slimmest of margins, a single hole, but that is behind Judith Kyrinis now. On Thursday she defeated fellow Canadian Terrill Samuel to win the 2017 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.
Kyrinis, a registered nurse from Thornhill, Ontario, used wins on holes 12,13, and 15 at the Waverley Country Club in Portland, Oregon to propel herself to a 4&3 victory and her first United States Golf Association title.
No stranger to success as the 2016 Canadian Women’s Senior and Mid-Amateur Champion, the member of The Thornhill Club is also the current holder of the same titles in her home province.
That said, this win for the golfer who took up the game at the age of 12 at St. Catharines G&CC, is the sweetest to date. She becomes the first USGA champion from Canada since Mary Ann Hayward won the Women’s Mid-Amateur in 2005 and just the third Canadian to win the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, following in the footsteps of Marlene Streit and Gayle Borthwick.
Kyrinis never trailed in the final match with Samuel, a 56 year-old school teacher from Etobicoke and a member at the Weston Golf & Country Club. The pair have known each other for almost three decades, adding another layer to the final.
“I think I played very solid and stuck to my game plan of what I wanted to do on certain holes with those bunkers that are right in your hitting area,” shared the new USGA Champion.
The 53 year-old mom of three also noted the success for all the Canadians this week, where nine players were present and four advanced to the quarter-finals.
“Yeah, it’s great. You know, Portland has been very good to Canadian golfers. Brooke (Henderson) has done very well in her time here, so we’re proud of kind of keep on that tradition of playing well in Portland. All the girls I think that you saw, we all played very well, really kind of got far into the tournament, in our matches, and it was good because, you know, I’ve been looking at those leaderboards, which were fabulous, and it really kind of would spur you on. You’d see your friends doing well, and you’re like, okay, let’s go. You don’t want to be left in the back of the bus, right, so it was fun.”
Back of the bus she was not, and unlike in 2014 when she rode shotgun as the runner-up, this time she was at the wheel and in full control.
Kyrinis reflected on that loss, how it drove her to tears, and how it feels to have finally won a USGA title. “It’s very special, very surreal. I don’t really believe that I’ve won yet.”
Steady Play For Kyrinis Hard To Overcome
While disappointed to finish second, Samuel, a two-time Canadian Senior Women’s Amateur Champion, said it helped to be losing to a good friend rather than someone she didn’t know.
“Yeah, for sure, it’s easy because I always root for her at every tournament because that’s what type of person she is, bar none.”
Samuel stuck to an aggressive strategy but Kyrinis was hard to overcome.
“Yeah, I went for it. I went at the pins,” said the Weston Golf & Country Club member, noting the steady play of her opponent . “She drives the ball always well, hits her irons well and is a good putter. That’s the difference, yeah. But if either one would win, we’re proud of each other. We’re best friends. She’s the classiest person I know, bar none. I’m so happy for her. She deserves it.”
Both finalists receive an exemption from qualifying into the inaugural 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill., with Kyrinis receiving a two-year exemption into the championship.
Both finalists also receive a two-year exemption into the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (2017 and 2018) and exemptions for future U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs – 10 years for Kyrinis and three for Samuel.