In her first year of eligibility for the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur, Jane Fitzgerald of Kensington reached the title match Wednesday in Hershey, Pa. But against another first-year player, Ellen Port of St. Louis, Fitzgerald, 50, couldn’t withstand the putting wizardry of her opponent.
Port, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion including last year, rallied for a 4 and 3 victory, winning five straight holes on the back nine on the West Course at Hershey Country Club.
Fitzgerald, wife of Chevy Chase Country Club professional Jim Fitzgerald, was a surprise finalist as the No. 44 seed after medal play. In the semifinals she toppled the No. 1 seed, Lisa Schlesinger of Laytonsville, 4 and 3. It was the second straight year Schlesinger, a former basketball player at Maryland, reached the semifinals as the top seed.
Fitzgerald, a former player at nearby Penn State, was gunning for her first USGA title. With Jim Fitzgerald serving as caddie, she was 1 up through 10 holes before Port’s hot streak began. She played the next five holes in 2-under-par and Fizgerald lost every hole.
The end came at No. 15, a par 5 where Fitzgerald missed the green with her second shot and couldn’t find her ball in thick vegetation left of the green. She conceded the hole, handing the match to Port.
“It was 215 yards,” Fitzgerald told the USGA. “I usually play freer and more aggressive and I felt that Ellen is such a good player that I needed a little magic. That’s why I went for the green.”
Fitzgerald, a graduate of B-CC, put her professional golf ambitions on hold as she met her husband and raised children Kelly and James. She won five Maryland Amateur and three Mid-Atlantic Amateur titles. She also qualified for two U.S. Women’s Opens and several U.S. Women’s Amateurs, reaching the quarterfinals twice.
Fitzgerald now has played in all four USGA women’s events – the Open, the Amateur, the Mid-Amateur, and the Senior Amateur.