U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S OPEN
U.S. Senior Women’s Open Is Quickly Making Its Own History
August 22, 2022 | Kettering, Ohio
By Ron Sirak
The thing about history is that it takes time to happen. Memorable moments are not manufactured but rather trickle out over time, the product of genius pushed to perfection by persistence. That rationing of greatness is why we savor those achievements. But with astonishing swiftness, the U.S. Senior Women’s Open has claimed a prominent place in golf history.
Maybe that’s because so many of those trying to add to the story of golf at this USGA championship for women 50 and older have already etched their name into history. Among the 120 players who will tee it up Aug. 25 on the South Course at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio, are 10 who’ve won the U.S. Women’s Open, including three-time champion Annika Sorenstam, winner of the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in her debut effort.
Sorenstam’s magnificent eight-stroke victory was the third consecutive riveting performance in the championship. The inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2018 was won at historic Chicago Golf Club by Dame Laura Davies, the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open champion. Davies, like Sorenstam, is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. In between those two, Helen Alfredsson, twice a runner-up in the U.S. Women’s Open, claimed her first USGA title in 2019 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.
Juli Inkster, yet another member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, has three top-10s in the Senior Women’s Open, including runner-up finishes in both 2018 and 2019. Inkster’s place in history is secure: Shewon the U.S. Women’s Open twice, the U.S. Women’s Amateur in three consecutive years and then this spring received the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honor.
The other second-place finishers in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open joining Inkster in the field at NCR are Liselotte Neumann, who won the 1988 U.S. Women’s Open, and Trish Johnson, who is third all-time on the Ladies European Tour with 19 victories.
“The USGA is the ultimate governing body of golf, and they always really test you, not only physically, but mentally on the golf course,” Inkster said. “I got my first case of that playing in the U.S. Amateur. Winning 18 matches in a row at three different golf courses in three different years is really hard to do. And then I was able to add a couple U.S. Opens off that.”
The South Course at NCR, a Dick Wilson design that will play as a par 73 this week, has carved out its own place in history. In 1969, Raymond Floyd won the PGA Championship here; in 1986 Jane Geddes took the U.S. Women’s Open, defeating Sally Little in an 18-hole playoff; John “Spider” Miller won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 1998 and in 2005, Allen Doyle captured the U.S. Senior Open.
“It reminds me so much of home because of the tree line,” Sorenstam said of NCR, recalling growing up in Sweden. “We felt comfortable being here, and it’s a really good challenge. Some greens are really big, and some are small so there are a lot of different hole location possibilities. I know the USGA will find all of them. The U.S. Open is the biggest championship in women’s golf and men’s golf as well. It’s going to be a true test. You have to be on your game from start to finish.”
The 10 U.S. Women’s Open champions in the field are Amy Alcott (1980), JoAnne Carner (1971, 1976), Davies (1987), Geddes (1986), Inkster (1999, 2002), Neumann (1988), Alison Nicholas (1997), Sorenstam (1995, 1996, 2006), Hollis Stacy (1977, 1978, 1984) and Jan Stephenson (1983). Carner, 83, is the oldest competitor. Among those playing in their first year of eligibility are Brandi Burton, winner of the 1989 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and LPGA Tour stars Catrin Nilsmark and Jill McGill.
History is everywhere at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. Carner has won more USGA championships than any other woman with eight, followed by Ellen Port and Carol Semple Thompson with seven. All three are in the field this week. And Carner continues to make history, shooting her age three times in this championship.
An added bonus is that the winner will earn a spot in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the first time the iconic venue will host the Women’s Open.
History will happen this week at NCR Country Club, quite likely by someone whose name is already in the record books. That’s what makes the U.S. Senior Women’s Open special. This is the championship where champions compete.
Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites and publications.