Hardin Wins USGA Senior Amateur

Mina Hardin defeated Alexandra Frazier 2 & 1 to win the USGA Senior Women's Amateur. Born in Mexico City and still a Mexican citizen despite living in Fort Worth, Texas, Hardin became the first Mexican woman to win a USGA championship.

The only Mexican man to win a USGA title is Lee Trevino, who won two U.S. Opens but is an American citizen.

Hardin, who played on the LPGA Tour from 1983 to 1989 but was later reinstated as an amateur, advanced to the final of the 2001 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur, but lost 4 and 3 to Laura Shanahan of Bedford, N.H. "I beat myself beat up over that," said Hardin, who turned 50 in September. "I was determined to learn from it."

Before starting the final match against Frazier, who plays at Gulph Mills Country Club in King of Prussia, Pa., and Seminole Golf Club in North Palm Beach, Fla., Hardin addressed the maintenance crew at host Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla. "I thanked them for all the hard work from the bottom of my heart," she explained. (See below for her full post-round interview.)

Because she wasn't expecting to reach the final, the 52-year-old Frazier was pleased with her performance, despite the loss. She was the 64th of the 64 qualifiers to reach the match-play portion through the medal rounds, and ended up coming just a bit short. "I'm so proud of myself," Frazier said. "This never was a dream of mine, because it seemed so far away. It seemed unattainable."

After accepting the hardware, Hardin met with reporters for the following interview.

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, she finally won a USGA trophy. Congratulations, Mina.

MINA HARDIN: Thank you.

MODERATOR: You hung in there when the pressure was really on. It was getting tough in there. I mentioned in this action Alexandra. I thought the match could have turned definitely on No. 10. The wonderful approach shot and the birdie putt was just short. On 11, we know what happened there. Right close to the green in two, and it looks like you were going to make 4. But you seemed to struggle a little bit your pitch shots today. Take us through the round, starting with the pitch shot on No. 11, if you don't mind. You lost the hole. You stubbed it.

MINA HARDIN: I did, I lost the hole. I had already the distance in my head. We had walked it off. I had the right club. I made the swing. I got up to the ball, and mid-swing I just doubted my distance. I thought, Make sure you hit it hard enough, because you have a backstop behind the hole. If you do that, of course the right-hand gets a little active and comes into the ball, and just stubbed it. It kind of rattled me a little bit.

MODERATOR: Did you think, Oh, no? I mean, it was one of those shots.

MINA HARDIN: It was. My husband just kept saying, just keep focused. Don't worry about it. Get to your next shot. But it did rattle me, and so hit a bad putt after that. That's kind of what it was on this hole. Then I tried to get on the next tee and put it out of my mind and say, It's all behind me. It's not important. It's just what's in front that counts.

MODERATOR: So lost the hole, and Alexandra put it in the bunker. You hit a wonderful approach shot in there, I thought.


MODERATOR: How did you see it from your point of view?

MINA HARDIN: I knew I had to reverse the roles and put some pressure on her, because she kept saying she was a scrappy player. I never saw scrappy at all. I think scrappy was left in the parking lot. She has a terrific move and her shots were high and nice. She never really hit that -- that one was probably the only one really that she missed when she went into the bunker. And then she hit a good bunker shot. When she made that putt, it was like, Wow, because she had been making putts all day. So I knew I had my hands -- a big battle.

MODERATOR: How important was that putt for you? What did you have?

MINA HARDIN: I probably had about a good eight foot. Yeah, and I knew that if I did not make that putt, the momentum would just absolutely totally change.

MODERATOR: Would've squared the match.

MINA HARDIN: Not only would it have squared the match, it would have changed the momentum. Then you kind of start going, Oh, no. I didn't want that to happen.

MODERATOR: Okay. Keep taking us through the match. Go to 13, the par-3.

MINA HARDIN: Gosh, I hit a really good shot on that hole.

MODERATOR: 12 feet past.

MINA HARDIN: Yeah, that green is just hard to stop. Doesn't really matter -- I mean, I've been hitting 7-irons into that green trying to stop it, and it still doesn't stop. So it just kept on going. I made a good putt. I didn't quite see as much break as it ended up happening, and so I left it on the low side. But I'm still thinking, Okay, you can still do this. It's okay. Not a big problem. Got to the next hole. Didn't hit my rescue clubs. Like I said, I didn't hit a lot of drives.

MODERATOR: Did you hit driver on 14?

MINA HARDIN: No, I did not. I hit my -- actually, I hit a 4-iron off the tee.

MODERATOR: Oh, okay. I'm sorry.

MINA HARDIN: I hit a 4-iron. I have two brand new rescue clubs from Callaway. One is a 3-iron, and my other one replaced my 4-iron. Just got 'em.

MODERATOR: So is this a 4-iron or 4-rescue?

MINA HARDIN: It's a 4-rescue, and it replaced my 4-iron.


MINA HARDIN: So didn't hit it very good, but I hit it on the right side of the fairway. I didn't want to ever fool around with that water. But we a little bit left, more than we have for the last week. I hit a beautiful 7-iron right over the flag. She came back. I don't know what she hit, but she laced it right at the pin, too. So we were both back behind the green. She was hitting quality shots. Didn't matter what I threw at her, she was still doing it.

MODERATOR: Then you cozied the putt down close, tap-in range.


MODERATOR: I was shocked when she missed her putts. It was about a 5-footer, and she hadn't been missing putts.


MODERATOR: So you wind up winning the hole.


Q. You're talking about 15 or 14.

MINA HARDIN: I'm talking about 15; you're talking about 14.

MODERATOR: I'm talking about 14.

MINA HARDIN: On 14 I hit my 3-rescue off the tee. And hit 7-iron.


MINA HARDIN: Seems like I hit a lot of 7 irons today. It hit on the green and skidded just off the green. Yeah, I did hit a good putt there. Yeah, I was very shocked, because I told my husband, Okay, she's making her putt; let's go to the next hole. All of a sudden she missed it. My husband goes, She missed it. It was shocking because she had not missed anything all day.

MODERATOR: So you're feeling pretty good there.

MINA HARDIN: Yeah, a little extra cushion felt good. Then we got to 15, and I hit the rescue again, the 4-iron rescue. Hit another 7-iron.

Q. She was probably hitting a wedge there.

MINA HARDIN: Yeah, because she took her drive and too a more aggressive line towards the right-hand side and hit it right at the pin. That's when we're both so close together. I was surprised she didn't ask me to mark it at first. I was like, Let me mark it. She never did ask me. When she finally got up there, she goes, Oh, I thought I could squeeze in, but I can't. I thought -- I knew she couldn't do that. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Have to be really careful not to clean that ball.

MINA HARDIN: I didn't want to move it.

MODERATOR: Yeah, that was a nice two-putt.

Q. Had there been any possibility if she was standing in your line? How does that work? We don't get to watch match play very often. What would be the etiquette in that like if her foot was going to be right on your mark?

MINA HARDIN: I believe in match play you have to play honors. It doesn't matter. So you have to just let your opponent know and say, Hey, if it was me I would be stepping on your line, so just feel free and step on mine. It's every man for himself. You just have to just do what you have to do.

MODERATOR: So we've been over 15. 16, I mean, this back nine was wild.


MODERATOR: It really was.

MINA HARDIN: She hit a good drive on 16.

Q. You hit a good drive on 16. You were 40 yards past her.

MODERATOR: Yeah, she said she missed her drive. But I didn't see what happened to her second shot. I was trying to get up close to the green.

MINA HARDIN: She missed her drive on 16, yes, and I hit another rescue club.


MINA HARDIN: Those little Callaway rescues really got a lot of playing time this week. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: So did she hit her second shot solidly?

MINA HARDIN: I think she did, but I don't think she could have gotten there with a cannon. It was pretty far back.

Q. It was 230, a little bit into the wind.

MINA HARDIN: Yes, yeah.

MODERATOR: This was interesting, because she hit a wonderful wedge, a 56 degree wedge she said, on that, and she's about five feet. Then you have a pitching rod in front of the green.


MODERATOR: In my mind, it looked like the pros. I mean, you didn't take any waggles, practice swings.

MINA HARDIN: No, I did take a couple waggles, but I was nervous. What can I say?

MODERATOR: It's a championship. Two-up with three to play.

MINA HARDIN: Absolutely. I got up there, took a couple of waggles, and got up there and I looked up before I even started my club back. (Indiscernible) and just chunked it.

MODERATOR: Were you starting to think about winning? At any time did you think.

MINA HARDIN: I wanted to put pressure on her because I knew she was up close and could make the putt. I told myself if I could have a good, solid chip and get it close and put the pressure on her, it would help.


MINA HARDIN: It didn't happen that way, so she won the hole.

MODERATOR: Did you make that eight-footer for 5?

MINA HARDIN: I didn't have to. She made 4.

MODERATOR: She made the 4, you -- okay.

Q. Did you ever think about running that shot? I know she had several clubs.

MINA HARDIN: I did, I did. But I thought I could do the shot. I've done it many times before.

MODERATOR: And what club?

MINA HARDIN: Not in this kind of pressure, so I did learn a lesson.

MODERATOR: What club were you using for the pitch?

MINA HARDIN: 60-degree. I was going to play it back in my stance and just kind of bump it in there.

Q. That's obviously the best club to get it real tight like you wanted it, right?

MINA HARDIN: Right. I didn't want to flop it. I was just trying to play it back and just kind of run it in there.

Q. Is that the same club you hit on 11, the 60-degree?

MINA HARDIN: As a matter of fact, it is. (Laughter.)


MINA HARDIN: No, I'm afraid it's not the arrow, it's the Indian. (Laughter.)

Q. Take us through 17.

MINA HARDIN: She hit a wonderful shot. Those greens were just a little bit tough to stop. When she first hit it I thought she hit it in the right place and it was just going to go up the hill and feed back to the left and go right on that little curve. It just got a little too much speed and it kept on going. On the practice rounds, Joan Higgins and myself got a couple of putts from up there and putted it, and it was impossible to stop. I told my husband, we were a little bit in between clubs. To really get it back to the pin, I needed to hit a soft 6. Into the middle of the green, it would have been a 7. I told him, I don't want to be over there on top. I want to just go to the middle of the green. So we hit the 7. Didn't think the quite as crisp as I would have wanted to, but it was still in the middle of the green.

MODERATOR: That was is fantastic putt. I mean, it had to break 12 feet.

MINA HARDIN: It did. It did. We looked at it a couple times. I had picked the spot, and my husband at first said, Gosh that's really high. I said, Yeah, but we hit a couple putts from there on the practice round and they broke a mile. So he went to the other side of the hole and came back and said, You're right on it. I think the spot you picked is perfect.

MODERATOR: Because at first I saw him standing about six or eight feet to the right of the hole.

MINA HARDIN: Yeah, he kept thinking it was going to be a little too much if I hit it at the spot that I wanted to.

Q. Ten, 12 feet?


Q. And how paces was that? How far did you have to go?

MINA HARDIN: 19 paces.

Q. Wow.

MINA HARDIN: It was a long, long putt. Yes.

Q. Did you calm your nerves for that one?

MINA HARDIN: I did. I thought, You know, just go ahead and hit a good putt. You have nothing to lose. This is your moment. Take advantage of it. Whatever happens, happens, but you have to just hit a good quality putt and see what happens.

MODERATOR: Were you thinking at all of going on to 18 at that point before she hit her putt?

MINA HARDIN: I was. It did cross my mind. I thought, Well, if we do have to go to 18 I might have a little bit of an advantage, because if I hit a good drive I could hit a 6-iron onto the green. I don't think she's going to have a 3-wood and risk it over the water.

MODERATOR: So that's what you're thinking while she was lining up her putt?

MINA HARDIN: Yes. So I kind of calmed my nerves down and was able to hit a good putt because of the reassurance that if I hit a couple good shots, you know, and being one-up, I could have had the advantage.

MODERATOR: What did you think when she missed the putt and you knew you had won?

MINA HARDIN: First of all, I couldn't believe she missed it because she made all these great, great putts all day. So I was pretty much mentally prepared to go to the next hole. When she missed it, I was like, Oh, my God. I just won. Oh, my God. (Laughter.) I won a USGA event. I'm a USGA champion. Oh, my God.

MODERATOR: What did you say to your husband? Do you recall?

MINA HARDIN: I just said, I can't believe it. We did it. We did it. I was just so excited.

MODERATOR: Did you know this guarantees you free chicken dinners for the rest of your life?


MODERATOR: We have so many USGA champion's reunions. That's what all my friends say. Oh, if you won a USGA championship, you get free chicken dinners for the rest of your life.

MINA HARDIN: I've been looking forward to this. It's such a dream come true. The year that I didn't make it for the U.S. Mid-Am, I was just excited to get to the finals and just didn't quite close the deal. So this morning when I got up, I just said a payer to God. I said, Lord, you have given me the opportunity to get here one more time. Let me not squander the opportunity. Let me be brave and go out there, focus on what I need to do for the day, and let me finish the deal. Sure enough, he's an awesome God and He gave me the chance.

MODERATOR: Do you think you learned something from having been runner-up in the U.S. Women's Mid-Am about playing in a final?


MODERATOR: What did you learn?

MINA HARDIN: To keep focus. It's not over until the last shot is hit. You never count anybody out and anybody in until the last putt is dropped.

MODERATOR: What do you think this will mean to you in your career?

MINA HARDIN: It's just is a dream come true. This morning when I woke up I also thought, Oh, my God. I could be the first woman Mexican citizen to ever win a USGA event.

MODERATOR: I think you are. Are you a dual citizen?

MINA HARDIN: No, I'm a Mexican citizen and an American resident. I was the first woman Mexican on the tour.

MODERATOR: Right. I know that, yeah.

MINA HARDIN: I always thought that Lorena would win not one but multiple USGA events, and she never did. This morning it hit me. I was like, Oh, my God, I could be the first woman Mexican to win a USGA event. So that was just like icing on the cake.

Q. That was the first time it actually occurred to you that way, this morning?

MINA HARDIN: It was. Because we'd been focusing on trying to stick to our game plan. We picked the right clubs off every tee. So my husband and me had decided that no matter what, we were going to hit those clubs. The only time we would vary was on No. 10 yesterday because somebody put the tees a little bit farther back. So I ended up having to hit a 3-wood instead of a rescue club.

MODERATOR: How many drivers did you hit today?

MINA HARDIN: I wish you wouldn't have told me. I think it was only three.

Q. 1, 11, and 16.

MINA HARDIN: Thank you.

Q. I notice you were hitting a fairway metal, or was that always a rescue?

MINA HARDIN: I hit a 3-wood on 12. No, I'm sorry. I hit a rescue club on 12. I think I only hit one 3-wood.

Q. The hole at the edge of hazard, was that...

MINA HARDIN: That was 3-wood.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

MINA HARDIN: Yes. That was a gift. That was an early gift.

MODERATOR: 8? Was that 8?


Q. First Mexican woman to win a USGA title. Has there been a man?

MINA HARDIN: Yes, Lee Trevino.

MODERATOR: Have you met him?

MINA HARDIN: I have met him once. Yes, I have.

Q. He was never a Mexican citizen, though.

MINA HARDIN: No, no. He is. He's born and raised. He's absolutely...

Q. Is there another? Am I missing another name like that?

MODERATOR: I don't think so.

MINA HARDIN: I don't think so. I think Lee has been the only one.

Q. What did you say thank you to the grounds crew in Spanish?

MINA HARDIN: I thanked them for the hard work, that the golf course was in it immaculate shape. I thanked them for all the hard work from the bottom of my heart. Then I said something like, Viva Mexico. (Laughter.)

Q. What had you thought of Lorena always recognizing all the grounds workers in so many places? What did that make you feel, how proud that might have been for you?

MINA HARDIN: I think you have to recognize not only the grounds crew, but every human being that is out there. We're all equal in the eyes of God. Nobody is better than another person. Some people are a little luckier than others and we've been placed in different positions, but we should all be grateful and mindful of other people no matter who they are. That's what God would want us to do. So I live by that motto. I just try to be the best Christian that I can.

Q. I have a question about your clubs. The 3 and 4 hybrids you were talking about are Callaway what? Do you know?

MINA HARDIN: I have a Callaway -- my long, which replaced my 3-iron is an IZ. The 4-iron, the one that replaced my 4-iron is a Diablo.

Q. So interesting. And your 3-wood is what?

MINA HARDIN: Callaway IZ. I just got 'em probably about a month ago.

Q. Is it a 15 degree 3-wood?


Q. What's your driver?

MINA HARDIN: My driver is a TaylorMade that I've had probably for the last four years.

Q. TaylorMade what?


Q. What's the loft?


MODERATOR: What kind of shaft do you have on that?

MINA HARDIN: My driver is stiff.



MODERATOR: You're still young. (Laughter.) What kind of ball do you use?

MINA HARDIN: Titleist, the Pro V1X.

Q. How far are you hitting it when you hit a good drive?

MINA HARDIN: I probably carry it about -- I'm going to say 225 to 230. And then depending on the roll...

Q. Are you considered long for senior women?

MODERATOR: Oh, yeah, she is.

MINA HARDIN: As an amateur this year, I was probably in the middle of the pack. These 16 and 17 and 18 year olds, I was very impressed with the caliber of women's golf coming up. I'm so proud of all the young people coming out to play. It was an absolute delight to see them go out there and attack that course. It was not an easy course, and they were shooting 68 hands down. So I was very pleased for women's golf.

Q. Is there a ladies stiff or no, it's just stiff?

MINA HARDIN: I play men's clubs. All my clubs are men's clubs.

Q. How tall are you?

MINA HARDIN: I want to say 5'5" if I stand up straight. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: I think you grew to about 5'9" today in stature.

MINA HARDIN: And I weigh about 117.

Q. Just wondered if A.K. was using Titleist ball today.

MINA HARDIN: Yeah, she was. I couldn't tell you if it was the...

Q. The regular or the X?

MINA HARDIN: I had two blue dots today and she had two green dots. I had two red dots yesterday. I have a little Christian fish on the golf ball.

MODERATOR: Is that as close as you come to a superstition or a good luck thing?

MINA HARDIN: No, just a good friend of mine gave me the little fish. It just reminds me to be mindful of what's important in my life, which is, like I said -- I know I sound repetitive, but I'm trying to be a good person, a person that God would want me to be. Every time I look down at my fish, it would remind me of God and how lucky and fortunate I am to be here.

MODERATOR: And now you're a champion.

MINA HARDIN: And I still can't believe it. It's like -- I'm like, Oh, my God. I'm a national champion. It won't hit me until I get to the room and start jumping up and down and screaming.

Q. Who is the woman from Dallas? I saw her out there following you? Tall woman. Leslie?

MINA HARDIN: Leslie Henry (phonetic) and Carolyn Creekmore, who has won this championship. She sent me a terrific text yesterday and told me that I could do it. Anna Shultz also who is a past champion sent me a text yesterday at dinner. They were both so encouraging. I've heard all the stories about how wonderful it is. They said, You know, you can do this. You are a really good player. You deserve to be there. Just go out and enjoy the moment. So it's been really great to have all these friends. I mean, I had so many text massages yesterday I thought my phone was going to overload. So it was really nice to have friends. Like I said, winning a championship is just incredible. But when it really comes down what life really brings, I mean, if you get sick and you have to go to the hospital, your trophy is not going to come see you. It's the people that you love, the friends that you make, that are going to take you through your life. So I've been very blessed to have a wonderful family and a wonderful husband and wonderful friends.

MODERATOR: They have this ladies amateur golf association in Dallas and Fort Worth, and they have accounted for seven finalists since 2004. They've been a finalist, a winner, and a runner-up seven times. I used to play in it. Mina plays in it. It's a very competitive thing. Creekmore plays, Anna Shultz played, Toni Wiesner played.

Q. It's a different life from the '80s when you were playing professionally. Is there any relation in your mind to -- I know you say it wasn't your time when you were out there. I know that's probably not anything that is with you anymore, but do you feel like in some way it's kind of nice validation. If you still have any thoughts, that you might wonder what you might have been able to do professionally.

MINA HARDIN: No. I wouldn't change anything in my life. Good and bad, it has taught me and brought me to be the person that I am now. So, no, I wouldn't really change anything. I've been very blessed. I've learned some tough lessons and some easy lessons. No, I'm just very blessed. I hope that I can inspire people and friends and let 'em know that if you work hard and your heart desires it, anything is possible with God. So just go out there and do the best you can.

MODERATOR: Mina, thank you so much for coming in and spending so much time with us.

MINA HARDIN: Thank you very, very, very much guys. It's been absolutely a pleasure. It's just, Whoo-Hoo!

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.