WELLESLEY, Mass. – Ellen Port moved into position for her third U.S. Senior Women's Amateur title and seventh USGA championship, winning two matches Wednesday on her 55th birthday - and 32nd anniversary of her father's death - to reach the final.
''This is always a day of mixed emotions in my life,'' said Port, from St. Louis. ''But I have gratitude. I count my blessings. You never know if you'll pass this way again. It takes so much to reach the finals.''
Port will face 55-year-old Andrea Kraus of Baltimore in the title match at Wellesley Country Club.
Port beat Lisa Schlesinger of Laytonsville, Md., 2 and 1 in the morning quarterfinals and outlasted Laura Coble of Augusta, Ga., in 19 holes in the afternoon semifinals.
''When you get to match play, you just have to never give up and be very patient,'' Port said. ''My 'A' game hasn't shown up. I've just been kind of inconsistent.''
Kraus needed extra holes in both matches, topping Canada's Judith Kyrinis in 21 holes in the quarterfinals and Karen Garcia of Cool, Calif., in 19 holes in the semifinals. Kraus got past the quarterfinals for the first time in USGA play.
''I had a really long day with two really long matches against two terrific players,'' Kraus said. ''It wasn't flawless golf. We were tired. By the end it was who could survive, and I happened to survive today.''
Port won in 2012 and 2013 after taking U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur titles in 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2011. With six USGA women's titles, she's tied with Hollis Stacy for fourth place - one behind Carol Semple Thompson and Anne Quast Sander and two behind JoAnne Gunderson Carner. Port is playing for 55th USGA championship event.
''When the gun goes off tomorrow, none of that will matter,'' Port said. ''I'll just convince myself that I'm the world's greatest amateur. It's what I've done my whole life. That's just how I operate.''
Port pulled even with Coble with a birdie win on the par-3 15th, halved the par-4 16th and par-5 17th and 18th with pars and won with a par on the par-4 19th. In the quarterfinals, Port finished off Schlesinger with a par win on 17.
''I never feel out of a match,'' Port said. ''I love being able to pull off a shot. I think I can really focus in on the task at hand and keep from getting too far ahead of myself. It's just me and the golf course. That's the way it's always been. That's all I can control, and that frees me up.''
Kraus squared the match with Garcia with a par win on 17, halved the 18th with a bogey and won with a par on the first extra hole. In the quarterfinals, Kraus won the 14th and 15th to tie Kyrinis, and ended it with a par win on the 21st.
''It is pretty nice to finally get to a final, it really is,'' Kraus said. ''It's really exciting. I'm delighted. I'll do my best.''