U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S OPEN
Round 1 Recap: Motivated Crosby Seizes Lead July 12, 2018 | WHEATON, ILL. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Elaine Crosby, 60, carded four birdies against just one bogey to post the lowest opening round of the championship. (USGA/John Gress)

Inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open l #USSeniorWomensOpen
Wheaton, Ill. 
Round 1: Par 73, 6,279 yards 
Hole locations | Media Center

What Happened

It began as a reunion, a celebration of accomplishments past, but on Thursday morning at Chicago Golf Club, the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open became a championship.

After one round of this championship for players 50 and older, the solo leader is Elaine Crosby, of Jackson, Mich., who got to 4 under par for the day before closing out her afternoon round with a 3-under-par 70, good for a one-stroke lead over Trish Johnson, 1987 U.S. Women’s Open champion Laura Davies and 1988 U.S. Women’s Open champion Liselotte Neumann. The only other player under par on the 6,279-yard layout was Helen Alfredsson, at 1-under 72.

“I was not exempt to play, so I qualified at Conway Farms about an hour north of here,” said Crosby, 60, of Jackson, Mich., who won twice on the LPGA Tour in a 16-year career. “I was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t exempt, but I think that made me work even harder to get here, because this is history for women’s golf.”

Crosby started on No. 10, and after making a par-saving putt on the difficult par 3, she birdied Nos. 12 and 13. She added another birdie on No. 18 to make the turn at 3 under, and she played the front nine in a solid even-par 36.

“I saw the scores were pretty high this morning, and I thought, uh-oh,” said Crosby, who now works 50-to-60-hour weeks as the president of Jackson Lumen Christi Catholic High School. “I just managed it well. My caddie and I were very careful on the yardages and where we put the ball on the green, and I rolled it really well today.”

The championship officially debuted at 7 a.m. CDT, when JoAnne Carner striped the first shot of the day down the middle of the first fairway. Carner shot her age (79), but has her sights set on making the 36-hole cut.

Johnson, 52, of Bristol, England, who won the recent Legends Tour event in Kingston, Wash., by five strokes, joined fellow Englishwoman Davies, 54, of Coventry, and Neumann, of Sweden one stroke back, with Davies joining the group by making an eagle 3 on her final hole, the 421-yard, par-5 18th.

Juli Inkster, a five-time USGA champion touted by many as a leading contender in this championship, opened with an even-par 73, one of four players at that score. Inkster came into the week disappointed with her putting after playing in nine LPGA Tour events.

“I’ve been hitting the ball so well, and I probably only hit four fairways today,” said Inkster, 58. “I played defensively all day and I’m very happy with even par. I’ll just go back and try to work on something with my swing. I’m just excited that I actually putted pretty good today.”

Fellow Bay Area native and broadcaster Kay Cockerill, a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, was among a group of eight players another stroke back at 1-over 74.

“The hardest thing honestly is the putting and how tricky these greens are and tapping into the right speed,” said Cockerill, a two-time All-America player at UCLA. “You think you hit a pretty good putt, and it just rolls on by another 6 or 8 feet instead of being 2 or 3 feet. That’s the challenge, and that’s what I’m not used to doing.”

Notable

Stacy Takes Top Billing in Sister Act

Six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy is joined in the field this week by her sister, Martha Leach, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. Before the championship began, Hollis talked proudly about her younger sister advancing through sectional qualifying to reach the field.

“Playing with my sister is very special,” said Stacy, 64, who won three U.S. Women’s Opens in her World Golf Hall of Fame career. “I really wanted her to qualify, but I never called her to ask, have you been practicing, because I really didn’t want to make it a big deal. And she qualified at Scioto, probably one of the hardest golf courses in the United States.”

Hollis edged Martha, 56, by one stroke on Thursday, 77-78, making a birdie on her final hole, the par-5 18th. As if their Round 1 scores weren’t close enough, Stacy pointed out another similarity.

“It was funny because everybody was looking at the leader board [at Scioto], and they’re going, Martha Leach, who is she?” said Stacy. “Because there were pros trying to qualify there, and then as soon as she talked, they realized she was my sister.”

Another Inaugural for Hiestand

Mary Jane Hiestand, who received an exemption into the championship after reaching the final of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, can now claim berths in four inaugural USGA championships: the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (1987), the USGA Women’s State Team (1995) and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball (2015), where she hit the first shot of that inaugural championship on the Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Hiestand, a native of Pontiac, Mich., who now lives in Naples, Fla., opened with a 7-over 80 on Thursday.

Amateur Watch

Kathy Kurata, of Pasadena, Calif., and Patricia Ehrhart, of Honolulu, Hawaii, shared the low score of the day among the 30 amateurs in the field at 2-over 75. Marie-Therese Torti, of Canada, was one stroke back at 76. Lara Tennant, another amateur, made the first hole-in-one in U.S. Senior Women’s Open history, knocking a 6-iron shot into the hole on the 163-yard par-3 seventh, the famed Redan hole.

The Social Scene

Quotable

Kay Cockerill, on keeping up her concentration after being away from tournament golf:

“I do have to concentrate for a number of hours when I’m working television. It’s a little bit different, but I’m just trying to bank on some of the practices that I’ve done, either in TV or out watching the best players. I thought about Inbee Park and how in between shots, she just peacefully stands there and almost meditates. I tried to be like Inbee and not exert too much energy and too much thought.

“But I’m going to relish and welcome the challenge. That’s what we’re here for. That’s why you compete, because it’s uncomfortable, and you have to see how you handle the challenges.”

Elaine Crosby, on her previous competitive rounds in 2018:

“We had a two-day Legends tournament in Seattle that I played in. And then because I qualified, I played in the Michigan Open, so I had three days of that. The second day I played with two women who play on the Cactus Tour. Between them, their ages did not equal my age, and they hit it like 50 yards by me. So I had to play my own game, and I think that helps coming out here, too, because I’m not a long hitter. I’m certainly not hitting it with Trish Johnson.”

Laura Davies, on the challenge of Chicago Golf Club:

“You stand on the tee and you think, right, you can take this place apart, but you know that's not actually going to happen because the tees are generous, but it’s all about your second shot. It has to be in the right quadrant of the green because they’re big, squarish greens. They seem to have four separate quadrants. Today I did quite well. But it’s a course that, if the wind gets up, it’s going to be really tricky, but if it stays calm then maybe a few more 71s. Maybe one round in the 60s would be good.”

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.