Local caddy Pemberton helps Philly golfer advance at Waverley
A combination of relaxed play and local knowledge has put the team of McGill and Pemberton into the quarterfinals of the 56th U.S. Senior Women's Amateur at Waverley Country Club.
Team? Isn't this an individual national championship?
Correct, but it's been a group effort this week for Lisa McGill, the golfer from Philadelphia, and Pemberton, the 2017 La Salle Prep graduate and Waverley caddy who has been on her bag.
And McGill, who won two matches on Tuesday, is thankful to have Pemberton, a standout prep golfer and basketball player, helping her navigate the nuances of historic Waverley.
"It's huge," she said. "He's a friend out there. We have a good time, and we do the best we can."
What they did in the rounds of 32 and 16 was good — McGill won her morning match on the 19th hole against Angela Stewart of Greenville, North Carolina, and rolled to a 5-and-4 afternoon victory over Lynne Cowan of Rocklin, California.
The early duel was "a tug of war," McGill said. "It could have gone either way. I hit two solid shots on the extra hole."
Against Cowan, McGill unleashed some "awesome recoveries," including sand saves at Nos. 9, 10 and 14 and a 21-yard chip-in for birdie from behind the green on No. 8.
Birdies on the fourth and fifth holes put her 2-up and gave her some momentum on a day when she felt relaxed on the course.
"All her bad shots were playable. That's why she won," Pemberton said. "She was never stressed today.
"She's the most laid-back, relaxed … she's just enjoying herself."
McGill, the mother of 17- and 18-year girls, said she's just excited to be in the tournament for ages 50 and up and now in the final eight, which qualifies her for this event next year.
"Every round is a bonus. This place is beautiful," she said.
Pemberton was paired with her after McGill asked for a club caddy "who can read the greens."
The 19-year-old Pemberton, who was a 6-3 point guard for four varsity seasons, earning second-team all-Portland Interscholastic League honors as a sophomore and junior at Lincoln, is exploring some of his future options after de-committing from the golf program at Alabama State.
He said his basketball days are probably over and he'll attend community college for a year. And he'll be busy at Waverley for at least one more day, with McGill set to face Canada's Mary Ann Hayward in the Wednesday morning quarterfinals.
Quarterfinal matches tee off from 8 a.m.-8:30 a.m., and the semifinals are set for 12:45 p.m. and 1 p.m. The 18-hole final starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Admission is free.
Five of Tuesday's 16 morning matches went extra holes.
Hayward had the biggest win of the round of 16, defeating Sherry Smith of Irvine, California, 7 and 6. She got to that match thanks in part to a 33-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in the morning to turn back another Canadian, Marie-Therese Torti.
Toronto-born Tara Fleming, who lives in Jersey City, is the highest remaining seed from two days of qualifying. Fleming, who was fifth after stroke-play rounds on Saturday and Sunday, took down Kim Eaton of Greeley, Colorado, 2 and 1, on Tuesday morning and then ousted Leigh Klasse of Cumberland, Wisconsin, 5 and 3.
Fleming called the Pacific Northwest her favorite area for golf, recalling some years in the 1990s when she competed in the LPGA Tour stop at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, as well as a trip to Salishan as a college golfer at New Mexico.
Afternoon birdies on the par-3 6th and 14th holes keyed her afternoon advancement Tuesday. She nearly holed a 9-iron on No. 6, then made a 35-footer on the 14th to go dormie.
After playing "horrible" in her Monday match, Fleming put together "two really strong rounds today." The key, she said, was "I stopped playing my opponent and started playing the golf course."
Others in the quarterfinal include Honolulu's Patricia Schremmer and Patricia Cornett of Mill Valley, California.
Cornett works fulltime in non-malignant hematology and is associate chair for the education department of medicine at UC San Francisco.
After her second victory on Tuesday, she hurried to a phone to rearrange her travel plans — she had been scheduled to fly Wednesday morning to Beijing to give a talk at a medical education conference.
"I've got a lot of explaining to do to my hosts," she said.
She might start by explaining what happened to her in her first match of the tournament. On Monday, she was 3-down with three holes to play, then won the 16th with a 10-foot birdie putt, took the par-5 finishing holes with pars and birdied the 19th from 10 feet to eliminate Akemi Nakata Khaiat of Japan.
Cornett prevailed on Tuesday morning 1-up over Caryn Wilson of Rancho Mirage, California, then played even better in the afternoon, hitting all but two greens as she dispatched of Brenda Pictor of Marietta, Georgia.
The 63-year-old Cornett has played in more than 50 USGA championships, including eight U.S. Women's Opens.
"Every USGA event is special. It's just a thrill," she said.
Schremmer swept matches Tuesday against two golfers who have won USGA titles. And in the nightcap, she took down defending champion Ellen Port of St. Louis, 6 and 5.
"I'm surprised at myself," she said.
She, too, said she approached it as her against the course, not the opponent.
"I play alone a lot in Hawaii, because there aren't a lot of ladies playing golf where I'm at, so I'm used to playing against the course," she said.
Birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 put her 3-up on Port — and they came after approach shots to within 18 and 12 inches of the cup.
Schremmer also spends time these days watching her three daughters compete — in the water, not on a golf course. Born in 2000, 2001 and 2006, her girls all are accomplished surfers. Schremmer played college golf at South Florida in Tampa and moved with her husband to Hawaii in 2010. All three girls are national surf champions; the oldest will turn 17 on Wednesday.
"I'm afraid of surfing," Schremmer said. "I'm good at taking pictures."
Only the youngest seems to have much interest in golf.
"The oldest two have great golf swings," Schremmer said, "but they get great surf every day."