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.

Legendary JoAnne Carner once again shoots her age, 82, at U.S. Senior Women's Open; sets age record

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.

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.

JoAnne Carner, Carol S. Thompson and Ellen Port, representing 22 USGA Championship titles between them, at the 12th tee before playing their tee shots to start their first round at the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open. (Darren Carroll/USGA)

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.”

JoAnne Carner plays her second shot at the seventh hole during the first round at the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn. on Thursday, July 29, 2021. (Darren Carroll/USGA)

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.

Source : Golf Week More   

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LPGA great Annika Sorenstam co-leads U.S. Senior Women's Open with a California teaching pro who can't stop smiling

Annika Sorenstam is making her debut at the Senior Women’s Open as a favorite while Dana Ebster is living a dream.

LPGA great Annika Sorenstam co-leads U.S. Senior Women's Open with a California teaching pro who can't stop smiling

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Dana Ebster wasn’t sure what to make of the interview area on the porch at Brooklawn Country Club.

“Can we practice first?” she asked as she gingerly stepped up toward the mic. Ebster, by the way, rocked the interview.

Just before Ebster flew across the country to Connecticut, she was up at 6 a.m. pulling carts out at Turlock Golf and Country Club in central California where she runs a junior clinic and works in the pro shop.

The members came together to raise money for Ebster to make the trip. She got in the field at the 3rd U.S. Senior Women’s Open as an alternate and now co-leads at 5 under with LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. Ebster ended her round with a hole-out for eagle on the par-5 11th from 115 yards with a knocked-down 9-iron.

“OMG,” said Ebster. “That’s all I got to say. OMG. … I’m just the little club pro that came out, and so I’m super excited.”

Sorenstam makes her debut at the Senior Women’s Open as a favorite despite taking off 13 years of competitive golf. In February, she made the cut in her first LPGA start since 2008. Sorenstam is expected to be on top of the board; Ebster is “just excited to be here.”

It’s the perfect balance of what a Senior Open represents: a celebration of greatness, of lifelong careers and an unquenchable love for the game.

More: Big Mama returns to U.S. Senior Women’s Open

Sorenstam runs junior events all over the world as part of her foundation and has the top award in college golf named after her; Ebster runs a junior academy and coaches at Modesto Junior College, where daughter Makena, 18, will be a freshman this fall.

Dana Ebster will coach her daughter Makena this fall at Modesto Junior College. (Golfweek photo)

Ebster, who played at USC and on the LPGA in the 1990s as Dana Arnold, typically works on her game on Fridays during the ladies’ league at Turlock.

“Hopefully they will still invite me to the Ladies Invitational,” she said, “because that’s the most fun.”

When play was called for the day at 5:15 p.m. EDT on Thursday due to inclement weather, eight players had finished under par for the day, including 2018 USSWO champion Laura Davies (1 under) and amateur Ellen Port (1 under). Kris Tschetter sits alone in third at 3 under. Sixty players had yet to finish.

Sorenstam won 72 times on the LPGA, including 10 majors and three U.S. Women’s Opens. She used to hold on to bad shots and let them fester. Now that golf isn’t even a part-time job, she’s easier on herself.

Sorenstam hit 17 greens in Round 1 and ranked second in the field in driving distance behind Davies. She recorded only one bogey on the par-5 11th.

“I think the attitude is better for me than before,” said Sorenstam. “I did look at the leaderboard a few times, but I used to stare the leaderboard down. I don’t do that anymore.”

Ebster, 51, didn’t mind staring at the board. In fact, someone in her group likely took a picture. There’s a precious photo from the 2000 U.S. Women’s Open, Ebster’s only appearance, of her husband on the bag with their young son Christopher beside him.

Now it’s Christopher on the bag this time. Ebster recreated the shot earlier this week.

Dana Ebster and her son, Christopher, pose on the 18th green. (courtesy photo)

“I’m one of those people that I always tell my players, I go, ‘Don’t get nervous,’ ” said Ebster. “This is what you worked hard for. We worked all of our life to be in this moment. You know, as a kid, on the putting green, this putt is for the U.S. Open.

“Out there I turned to my son and I go, ‘Oh, my God, I’m so excited. This is what it’s all about. This is what we work hard for.’ ”

Sorenstam has husband Mike McGee on the bag at Brooklawn, and their two kids arrive on Friday. With television coverage not starting until the weekend, son Will most likely lived on the USGA’s live scoring page. This evening, he’ll want to go over the round shot-by-shot with mom.

She looks forward to it. With Sorenstam once again on top of a leaderboard, it feels like old times. But as Will and Eva remind us, so much has changed.

Source : Golf Week More   

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