By Rhonda Glenn, USGA
A Florida Championship – The 1969 U.S. Women’s Open
Only once has Florida hosted the U.S. Women’s Open, in 1969 at Scenic Hills C.C. in Pensacola. There’s an interesting story about the finish of that championship. Donna Caponi eagled the par-5 15th to take the lead, but bogeyed the 17th to fall into a tie with Peggy Wilson. At the 18th, Caponi hit her approach shot to within hailing distance of the hole. Wilson was in with a 295 total. There are two versions of what happened next: As Caponi stood over her birdie putt to win, she could hear the voice of announcer Byron Nelson from the TV tower behind the green saying the putt would break to the left. Wilson always believed Nelson’s loud proclamation gave Caponi the true line. At the 50th reunion of Women’s Open champions in 1995, however, Caponi told a different story. Yes, she heard Nelson say the putt was going to break to the left. Caponi, however, had read the line and believed the putt would break to the right. Standing over the ball, she suddenly realized, “Byron was reading the putt from his point of view, which was to break to his left, which meant that it would break to my right, which is what I had figured.” Anyway, Caponi made the birdie putt and won by a stroke. It’s still a tough one to figure out.
Marlene Stewart Streit
Marlene Streit’s absence from the 2010 field leaves a void. She’s won the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur three times in three different decades, the last in 2003 when she was 69. She was runner-up an astounding five times. Streit isn’t here this year, which caused concern that, at 76, she was hanging it up. Not so. The Canadian, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, is simply staying at home to celebrate her daughter’s 50th birthday. “Good to be missed, but I still wish I was there,” Streit e-mailed. “I’ll be there next year!”
Surprisingly in Florida, conditions at Fiddlesticks are dead calm, despite the fact that this beautiful course is just 12 miles from the Gulf. Which reminds me…The great Mickey Wright, even more than 40 years after retiring from competition, used to note the weather. When I sometimes talked to her and asked about her weather in South Florida, Mickey would respond with the glee only a golfer knows, saying, “No wind!”
A Funny Thing Happened…
Defending champion Sherry Herman’s speech at Thursday night’s Players Dinner contained one of the funniest anecdotes about playing a hole that I’ve ever heard. We all thought those things happened only to us, but Herman’s march to the 2009 championship included something of a miracle. We’ve reprinted her speech on this site, and it’s titled, “A Champion Speaks.” If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat. If you’ve already heard it, it’s worth reading anyway.
Baseball playoffs are underway, the football season is in full swing, the National Hockey League just opened the season and golf, as always, is being played somewhere. For the avid sports fan, it’s a great time of year. Years ago there was a conversation between Sam Snead and baseball’s great hitter, Ted Williams, on Tom Snyder’s late-night “Tomorrow” show on NBC. Snead and Williams talked about the relative difficulty of hitting a ball in their respective sports. The hitting icon, Williams, spoke of the perfect coordination and talent needed for hitting a moving target, such as a 94 mph fastball. Snead responded curtly. “Ever try to hit a 2-iron?” he barked.