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Portland golfer heads to Anchorage this week looking to play her best golf, defend her title.

COURTESY PHOTO:  KATHRYN RILEY/USGA - Portland's Lara Tennant, pictured with the trophy after winning the 2021 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, will try to win a fourth consecutive time when the 2022 tournament takes place July 30-Aug. 4 at Anchorage, Alaska.When Lara Tennant shipped the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur champion's trophy back to the United States Golf Association a few weeks back, it was like parting with a good friend.

"It's always sad to say goodbye to the trophy," she said.

She hopes to bring it back home soon.

The Portland golfer will be shooting for her fourth consecutive championship when the 60th edition of the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur is played July 30-Aug. 4 at the Anchorage Golf Club in Alaska. She would be the second woman to win four consecutive senior amateur titles since the tournament, which dates to 1962, adopted the match-play format in 1997.

As she heads north to try to accomplish something rare, Tennant seems to be in a good place.

In early July, the 55-year-old finished second at the R&A Senior British Women's Amateur, played in challenging conditions at Royal Dornoch Golf Club in northern Scotland. Tennant, who in 2019 won the Senior British Women's Amateur played in Wales, was pleased with how she played on the traditional Scottish links course.

"It was very difficult conditions. And I stayed in it the whole time. I just came up a couple strokes short," she said. "But I played my best considering the really severe wind. And we had some rain, and it was cold and it was just tough."

In late June, she won the Oregon Senior Women's Amateur title for a record sixth consecutive time.

"I feel like I'm playing well and just ready to go have fun defending my title and just do the best I can every day," she said.

Tennant, as she often does, has been focusing on her short game to prepare for tournament season. Her consistent chipping and putting that has served her well in match-play tournaments.

"It's fun to work hard on my game," she said, noting that fairway bunker shots have been an area she's focused on this year.

"I continue to work on my short game, because I know that's really what makes the difference: my bunker game and my wedge play and obviously my putting," Tennant said. "But, trying to learn new shots is something I continue to do. And I have fun doing that."

She's had to withdraw from a couple tournaments this summer but is looking forward to the challenges ahead. Tennant plans to compete in the U.S. Women's Amateur Aug. 8-14 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington. the U.S. Senior Women's Open Aug. 25-28 in Kettering, Ohio, and the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Sept. 17-22 in Fort Meyers, Florida.

At Anchorage, for the two rounds of stroke play scheduled Saturday and Sunday, Tennant is paired with the two champions previous to her three consecutive wins, Ellen Port from St. Louis (who Tennant defeated in last summer's final) and Canadian Judith Kyrinis.

"It's nice. They're both very good friends of mine," Tennant said.

Her group tees off at 8:30 a.m. PT Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. PT Sunday. The top 64 players after 36 holes are seeded into a match-play bracket.

Tennant doesn't know the Anchorage course, yet figures this week's practice rounds will prepare her. And she is glad her father, George Mack Sr., will be her caddy.

Tennant said that being defending champion doesn't impact her mindset for a tournament.

"You go into a tournament hopefully having confidence in yourself, but just taking each day as it comes and trying not to have too high of expectations, but just go out and play my very best," she said. "I don't really think about winning or losing. I just want to go play the best golf I can."

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