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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/Ben Goff VETERAN'S DAY: Tanna Richard, of Fort Smith, pictured winning the 2016 Arkansas Women's Golf Association Match Play championship in Rogers, takes the Women's Southern Golf Association Mid-Amateur title in Hot Springs Village. Seeded third out of 32 players, Richard won 4 and 2 Friday over No. 5 Susan West (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) on the Granada course. - Photo by Ben Goff

HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE -- Tanna Richard has been winning major golf tournaments in Arkansas since Richard Nixon occupied the White House, long since becoming one of the game's living legends.

The Fort Smith veteran's latest championship came Friday on a Garland County course years from completion when she played her first tournament.

Seeded third, Richard won 4 and 2 over No. 5 Susan West (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) in the scheduled 18-hole final of the Women's Southern Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship.

Richard won five matches in four days over Hot Springs Village's Granada course, where on Friday top seed Lindsey McCurdy won the WSGA amateur title in a 1-up final with Gabriela Coello.

Only once in the tournament did Richard play the full 18 holes, going 19 against No. 23 seed Liz Scaggs (Dallas) in the semifinals.

West played the full course in two matches, both against Arkansans, 1 up against No. 12 seed Kerry Ellison Lareau (Little Rock) and 2 up against No. 8 seed Julie Goodin Oxendine in the semifinals. West's victory over Dover's Oxendine prevented an all-Arkansas final between members of the Arkansas State Golf Association's Hall of Fame.

Richard's WSGA victory came a year after a 2-and-1 triumph over 18-year-old Taylor Loeb, then fresh out of Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock and bound for Henderson State University, in the ASGA Women's Match Play final in Rogers.

"I'm not the longest hitter and I'm certainly not the best player, but I love the competition and just trying to get better," Richard told a United States Golf Association interviewer in 2015. "I appreciate it now even more because I realize how lucky I am to still be able to do it."

Richard played her first tournament at age 12, the 1969 Arkansas State Junior, learning the game at Hardscrabble Country Club from Ed Dell Wortz, the only woman with full voting privileges at the Fort Smith club in the 1960s.

Competing as Tanna Lee, she won back-to-back junior titles in 1973-74, defeating veteran Martha McAlister (Little Rock) in the 1980 AWGA Match Play final at Hot Springs Country Club and winning the 1996 Arkansas State Stroke title.

Out of state, she competed in the inaugural U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur in 1987 and reached the 2007 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur semifinals.

"I didn't hit the ball long enough to turn professional, but I wanted to continue playing competitive amateur golf," she said.

While taking an accounting class at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, she began playing golf with her accounting professor, Louisiana native Ron Richard, the state's dominant men's amateur golfer in the 1980s. The couple married in 1991, Ron entering the ASGA Hall of Fame in 1996 and Tanna in 2006.

"Golf is a very important thing that we both enjoy," Tanna said in 2015. "I've caddied for him and he's caddied for me. We both still compete and when we have tournaments, we understand that we need to spend time playing and practicing."

Sports on 06/17/2017

Print Headline: Grand day at Granada for Fort Smith golfer

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