Brian Oakley still hasn’t gotten to see the Women’s Porter Cup champion return the following year to defend her title.
As far as disappointments go, that’s about the only one the fourth-year tournament director can come up with.
With 2015 champion Ana Paula Valdes not in this year’s field, another new champion will be crowned from 84 hopefuls when the fourth annual Women’s Porter Cup wraps up Friday. The first of three rounds will be held beginning at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at Niagara Falls Country Club.
Valdes is a high school senior at Bishops Gate Golf Academy in Florida, and her class trip is to her native Mexico.
“We’re disappointed, but understand why she can’t be here,” Oakley said.
Five of the top nine finishers from 2015, however, will be back in the field, including Canadian Josee Doyon, who finished third. Doyon, 108th in the latest Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, is a part of the five-member Canadian national team.
All of her teammates, as well as the five-member Canadian development team, will be in this year’s field. This is the third straight year Team Canada coach Tristan Mullally has brought all eligible players to the tourney.
“The way Tristan runs his team, he’s very focused,” Oakley said. “He has these girls mentally prepared. After each round, he sits down with them, he goes through every hole. He’s very methodical.”
One of Doyon’s teammates, Maddie Szeryk, enters as the pre-tournament favorite. The 19-year-old is a dual citizen who recently completed her sophomore season with the Texas A&M golf team.
“She’s probably the biggest contender,” Oakley said of Szeryk, who finished tied for 14th last year.
In sticking with the tradition established by the men’s event, there are eight countries represented, giving the tournament a global field.
“That gets me more excited than anything else,” Oakley said.
Leading the international contingent are Princess Mary Superal and Pauline Del Rosario, both of the Philippines. They teamed up last month to reach the semifinals of the United States Golf Association’s Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in Florida. Superal, ranked 131st in the world, tied for seventh last year, while Del Rosario is ranked 207th and finished tied for 40th.
Other countries represented include Finland (Anne Hakula), Norway (Susana Vik), Venezuela (Gabriela Coello), Thailand (Wad Phaewchimplee) and Brazil (Clara Teixeira). Phaewchimplee is ranked 133rd in the world.
The top-ranked American in the field is 21-year-old Taylor Totland, a junior at Furman who is making her Porter Cup debut. She finished tied for 20th in the recent NCAA championships.
“She’s coming off a really strong year and has been playing really well lately,” Oakley said.
A good sign of the event’s growth came last week, when Oakley got calls from head coaches at the University of Georgia and Harvard, both of whom plan to attend the tournament on scouting trips. That shows the caliber of players in the field.
Locally, the contenders include a pair of top-10 finishers from a year ago. Lewiston’s Maren Cipolla, playing on her home course, finished tied for seventh after a final-round 67. Cipolla will play for the University of Texas in the fall.
Clarence’s Cat Peters tied for 10th last year at 2-over 215. She recently completed her senior season at Michigan, earning All-Big Ten second-team honors. Peters had the best-ever finish for the Wolverines at an NCAA regional, fifth place in Alabama, which helped the team finish sixth and advance to the NCAA final for just the second time in program history.
“They’re both great girls in addition to being great players,” Oakley said of Cipolla and Peters. “It would be great to see a local winner.”