Legendary JoAnne Carner once again shoots her age, 82, at U.S. Senior Women's Open; sets age record
Joanne Carner became only the fifth player in history to shoot his or her age in a USGA championship more than once.
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – JoAnne Carner wasn’t at all pleased with her 82. The LPGA legend known as “Big Mama” said she thought she could come out on Friday at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and put up a 75 at Brooklawn Country Club.
Game on, Fairfield. Better come early and bring a seat.
Those fighting words came after Carner became only the fifth player in history to shoot his or her age in a USGA championship more than once, and the first player to do it when in her 80s. At the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club, Carner matched her age, 79, in the opening round. Jerry Barber (9), Tom Watson (3), Hale Irwin (3) and Harold ‘Jug’ McSpaden round out that impressive group.
This is the extent of the routine for Big Mama. Just step up and hit it! pic.twitter.com/nH7o5RjcrH
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) July 29, 2021
Carner also became the oldest player to compete in a USGA championship on Thursday, clipping McSpaden, who was 81 when he competed in the 1990 U.S. Senior Open.
“Not good,” said Carner. “I got some back spasms out there. Could not do what I wanted to do.”
The most difficult part of the day might have occurred in the scoring tent, where Carner and playing competitors Ellen Port and Carol Semple Thompson camped out for an extended period of time. Carner said she’d initially made six errors on her card.
More: Big Mama returns to U.S. Senior Women’s Open
“We couldn’t add right,” she said, “had to go back, and then we couldn’t remember the hole.”
Luckily her caddie Trevor Marrs, an Evans Scholar who caddied for two years at Brooklawn and recently graduated from Michigan State, was called in to help.
Carner, who is using a cart this week because her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes it too difficult to walk hills, said her goal is to make the cut. The top 50 and ties will play the weekend.
LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam and Dana Ebster, a teaching pro and junior college golf coach, lead the field at 5 under. Kris Tschetter sits alone in third at 3 under.
Carner, a record-holding eight-time USGA champion, hit 11 greens, seven fairways and took 36 putts. The 43-time LPGA winner was most frustrated with her performance on the greens.
“Even if you’ve got a tap-in you’ve got to look at it,” said Carner. “Even a tap-in can break.”
After a 14-month break from golf due to the pandemic, Carner got back to work two months ago back home in south Florida. She lost 24 pounds in preparation for this week, but said she’d also lost more distance. She averaged 191 yards off the tee on Thursday.
When asked if she might have overdone it in the weeks leading up to the championship, Carner quickly dismissed the notion.
“I always say go until you die,” she said. “Before the flag goes, yeah, wear yourself out.”
Port, a seven-time USGA champion, opened with 1-under 71 and said friends Thompson and Carner were ideal playing partners. With 22 USGA championships between them, none of them had anything to prove.
“They’re like war veterans,” said Port. “I felt like I was with my comrades.”
Two years ago at Pine Needles, 59-year-old Port wanted to get out and watch Carner’s last nine holes, thinking it might mark the end of Carner’s championship career. While having a drink after the round, Carner put her hands together as if gripping a club and said, “I think I’ve figured something out.”
That’s when Port knew that Carner wasn’t done.
Far from it.