Golf Channel's Kay Cockerill returns to competition at U.S. Senior Women's Open

USGA/Chris Keane

Golf Channel's Kay Cockerill returns to competition at U.S. Senior Women's Open

Professional

Golf Channel's Kay Cockerill returns to competition at U.S. Senior Women's Open

WHEATON, Ill. – The last time Kay Cockerill competed in an LPGA event was the 1997 Welch’s Championship in Canton, Mass. Outside of a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in 2006, she hasn’t signed a scorecard since. Yet the Golf Channel reporter is as familiar to fans as anyone else in the field given her career in television.

To prepare for the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open, Cockerill took her golf clubs on the road with the hope of getting in practice three to four times per week. With co-worker Jerry Foltz aiming to qualify for the Senior British Open at St. Andrews, she had a road partner at the ready, along with Tom Abbott, their producer and several cameramen.

“My body feels pretty darned good,” said 53-year-old Cockerill, a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.

The past two years when the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was in the greater Chicago area, Cockerill arranged for a game at Chicago Golf Club. This year after reporting four hours from Kemper Lakes, she played alongside John Guyton, the head pro at Chicago Golf Club, and Van Salmans, who has won the club championship several times.

“I love it,” said Cockerill of the iconic venue. “I think it’s great for this championship because you don’t have to hit the high ball. I think as everyone ages, it’s like, every couple years your altitude and the apex of your golf shots comes down, down, down. Juli (Inkster) and Laura Davies, for example, still can hit the high ball, still get a lot of acceleration, and I occasionally can get it up there, too, but you don’t have to here. You can play the low ball. You can bunt things in.”

Kay Cockerill reports for Golf Channel during the third round of the 2017 ANA Inspiration (David Cannon/Getty Images)

As the links-style course dries out in the afternoon, players can benefit from 40 to 50 yards of roll. Cockerill played a practice round with good friend Inkster on Wednesday. The seven-time major winner joked that she felt long like Lexi Thompson, with some bunkers no longer coming into play.

“I don’t think length is going to be a factor for some of the players that are still competing a lot,” said Cockerill, “but it’s just managing your ball flight and hitting the right parts of these greens.”

On the bag for Cockerill will be husband Danny Dann. The pair met on the LPGA in 1991 when Dann caddied for her.

“It’s a little tricky with the caddie-player when you become a little more than caddie-player and sort of figuring out the dynamics of who we are on and off the golf course,” said Cockerill. “But he caddied for me all of ’91, and that was my best year on tour.”

Nowadays it’s mostly matches at home in the San Francisco area with buddies like Pat Hurst, Inkster, Cal coach Nancy McDaniel and Dana Dormann, a former tour player who is now head coach at San Jose State. Dormann qualified for this event by shooting a 68 at Olympic Club, where Cockerill is a member.

“We’re like, we need to start holing out putts,” said Cockerill of their recent prep. “We have to actually finish the hole, because we go, ‘Oh, that’s good, scoop it up.’ I haven’t had to finish out and actually put a score down on a scorecard and sign a scorecard in a long time. That makes me anxious, so I’m trying not to think about that, just trying to think about a hole at a time, one shot at a time.”

A mantra she hears every week at her day job.

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