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Carner Says She’s Quitting After Consecutive Days of Filming Her Age | LPGA

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KETTERING, OHIO | Goodbyes are hard, especially when you know it’s the end of an era; when the page is forever turned; when the one who says goodbye is the embodiment of a living legend. Eighty-three-year-old JoAnne Carner’s legacy has stood the test of time, as the resume of the 43-time LPGA Tour winner and 8-time champion should rightfully do. USGA. And while the Hall of Famer may not be as well known as modern players on the LPGA Tour, she still draws a small crowd at the US Senior Women’s Open – her only venture into competitive golf these days. here – with fans watching intently, marveling at Big Mama’s longevity and grateful to see a glimpse of the past, up close and personal.

But after four years of playing the Senior Women’s Open and after four years of chasing an ever-elusive cut, Carner says it’s time to hang up the competitive sticks, this time for good.

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“I keep thinking I’m going to qualify, and that’s been my goal all along,” the two-time US Women’s Open champion said on Wednesday. “So I keep working on my game. I think that’s finally it. It’s just hard work trying to move the whole game forward. I let it go too bad.

However, bad is a relative term, especially in golf. Carner kicked off the week at the NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio by shooting his age, a 10-year round that was highlighted by a birdie at the par-3 15th. She then did the same in the second round, shooting another 83, her fifth time at her age at the Senior Women’s Open. It’s far from terrible by anyone’s standard. But the “Great Gundy” always expects more from her game, no matter how impressive it is for golf fans and the rest of her peers.

“I get a lot of people talking to me while I’m playing, even the players all praising me,” Carner said. “I’m not very excited about it because I shot 83. But it’s nice to hear from them.”

To be honest, no one on the court really cared what she was going to shoot this week. They were just happy she was even playing, with many players and caddies enthusiastically coming up to show up and pay their respects. Some shared stories of how Carner made them laugh or provided them with swing advice that changed their game forever, or helped them feel welcome on the LPGA Tour while others stood in wonder and awe, soaking up every moment spent in Carner’s aura.

But what was more evident than anything else was the genuine love this group of women have for this matriarch and the appreciation they have for everything she has given to the game over the years.

“We were in Oakmont for the Open, the first of two we played, and she’s up there in this awful lie, and I said, ‘You didn’t make it there, isn’t it not? And she says, “No, but you know what, if you find the worst lies, everything else doesn’t look so bad,” recalls 2019 US Senior Women’s Open champion Helen Alfredsson. “C She’s a unique character, and I told her that I felt so lucky to have played when she was because she was so fantastic.”

Ten-time major champion Annika Sorenstam remains impressed that Carner has continued to compete and wonders if she too will challenge Father Time and do so at 83.

“When I hear about JoAnne it makes me laugh. She’s just a fun person, a character in her own right. She’s done so much for the game,” Sorenstam said. “I think it’s amazing that she is here. I think that’s great for the game, and it just shows the longevity of the game that she has but also the passion. I don’t know what I’ll do at 83, but to be there to play a US Open, I think is just remarkable.

Dame Laura Davies beat Carner and Ayako Okamoto at the 1987 US Women’s Open to claim her first LPGA Tour title, but recalls receiving advice from Big Mama shortly after that win at her first event as a rookie on the circuit.

“I remember in Florida at my very first tournament when I entered the Tour the following year, I was just in the bunker and JoAnne slipped in, and she gave me some advice. To me, that was the best thing ever, someone who less than two years before I beat her in the playoffs and she had time for me and Trish Johnson who was there,” Davies said. “So for me, JoAnne has always been one of my favorites. Lots of girls here will give advice, but JoAnne is a genius in the short game area of ​​her game, and she loves spreading her knowledge. For me, in as a rookie that year, it was a beautiful thing.

Carner herself isn’t one to be sentimental and that was the case on Friday as she sat down in the flash zone for one final post-round interview. She has no interest in returning as a starter and did not feel melancholy about playing her last 18 competitive holes. There were no words of wisdom to leave behind or laments over missed opportunities, although she would have liked to see a Senior Women’s Open played sooner.

In true JoAnne fashion, it was just the bare truth, a scathing critique of the current state of her game mixed with a bit of pride for what she was able to accomplish on the golf course, even the lackluster 83 .

“(I’m proud of) everything,” Carner said when asked to reflect on her career. “But right now, my age, I guess. Shooting at my age, which is terrible. I do better than that at home. I’ve worked too hard this year to try and get my game in shape. But I won’t let it get so bad to begin with.

“I enjoyed everything, even my bad golf. I mean, I was just trying like the good old days, only it really wasn’t there. But friendships and all, it’s great.

As for what’s next, Carner is looking forward to golfing with her older sister, Helen, who, at 91, has played every hole JoAnne has played this week at Dayton. For now though, a good drink and reflection on one hell of a career is in order.

Carner claims she never says goodbye and who knows? Maybe she will finally find the “slot” and be back next year in Portland. But don’t bet on it. It’s really the end of an era, the chapter is over, the last putt is holed.

Nothing more to say than kudos to you, Big Mama. Thank you for everything.

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