80-year-old JoAnne Carner aims to break her age at U.S. Senior Women's Open

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80-year-old JoAnne Carner aims to break her age at U.S. Senior Women's Open

USGA

80-year-old JoAnne Carner aims to break her age at U.S. Senior Women's Open

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Apologies to Dame Laura Davies, but JoAnne Carner was the leading lady of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

She was the player everyone wanted to hear from – competitors, fans and media alike. She was the one who captured our attention from the moment she put the first tee in the ground to her last drag on a cigarette. It was at once a step back in time and a reminder of what’s so beautiful about the longevity of this game.

And guess what? Carner is back, baby.

“I’ve always loved competing,” she said, “so give it one more shot.”

The 80-year-old hopes to break her age again at Pine Needles, something she does on a regular basis back home in South Florida.

TEE TIMES: U.S. Senior Women’s Open

That classic vintage red staff bag from last year didn’t make the trip though. It rotted out. This year all her clubs should be conforming though. She found out a registration last year that her 30-year-old Wilson R-90 wedge had to come out of the bag, a devastating blow.

Making the cut in 2019 might be an even taller task for Carner than last year.

“It’s playing long,” she said, “and my game is a lot shorter this year, too. I sort of lost 20, 25 yards, which is critical on this course. You need to have a short iron in your hand to get close to the pins and keep it in a certain area without going off, rolling down the typical Donald Ross.”

Carner wore herself out last year with her 18-hole practice rounds. Didn’t walk at all before showing up at Chicago Golf Club. In fact, when she shot 79 in that opening round, she hadn’t walked a golf course since 2004. This year won’t be any different.

“I walk I figure 50 steps a hole, which is drive the cart to the first tee, get out and tee it up, park it near the green, walk on the green,” said Carner. “That’s my 50 steps. I haven’t walked since last year.”

Asked if there was ever a doubt that she’d tee it up this week, Carner replied in typical Carner fashion.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be alive at 80,” she said.

Beth Daniel always admired the way Carner, an LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer with 43 LPGA titles, played with no fear. Like many players on tour, Daniel has a story about how Carner helped her become a better player as an LPGA rookie.

“Took me aside and said you’re one of the worst wedge players I’ve ever seen, come over here,” recalled Daniel, laughing. “I was hitting a wedge like a regular shot. (She said) drop your hands down a little bit. Don’t ever take a full swing at a wedge. It’s always a control shot.”

Last year, one of the richest moments at Chicago Golf Club came when Carner walked out of scoring giving Hollis Stacy a lesson on how to grip the putter.

The shame of it all is that the only way fans will get to watch Carner compete at age 80 is if she makes the cut. The last two rounds of the event will be televised on FS1 from 3-5 p.m.

Give us vintage Carner all day long.

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