“Catching Up” with Golfing legend JoAnne Carner at the U.S. Women’s Senior Open

JoAnne Carner drives ball (courtesy LPGA Tour)
JoAnne Carner U.S. Senior Women’s Open 2022 August 2022.mp3

FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

JoAnne Gunderson Carner (born April 4, 1939) is an American former professional golfer. Her 43 victories on the LPGA Tour led to her induction in the World Golf Hall of Fame. She is the only woman to have won the U.S. Girls’ JuniorU.S. Women’s Amateur, and U.S. Women’s Open titles, and was the first person ever to win three different USGA championship events. Tiger Woods is the only man to have won the equivalent three USGA titles. Arnold PalmerJack Nicklaus, and Carol Semple Thompson have also won three different USGA titles.

Carner was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1969. In 1981, Carner was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. She captained the 1994 U.S. Solheim Cup team.

Her and husband, Don Carner, were known for driving from tournament to tournament and staying in an Airstream trailer.[9]

AMATEUR CAREER

Born in Kirkland, Washington, a suburb east of Seattle, “The Great Gundy” (as she was known before she married Don Carner) remained an amateur until age 30. In 1960, while attending Arizona State University, she won the national intercollegiate individual golf championship. From 1956 to 1968, she was the dominant woman in amateur golf, and accumulated five U.S. Women’s Amateur titles (1957, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968), ranking her second only to Glenna Collett Vare who had six. She was runner-up two other times (1956, 1964). In 1966, Carner needed 5 extra holes (41 holes in total) to beat Marlene Stewart Streit in the longest final match in U.S. Women’s Amateur history. She also won the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 1956.

While still an amateur in 1969, Carner won an LPGA Tour event, the Burdine’s Invitational. She was the last amateur to win on the LPGA Tour until 15-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2012.

PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Carner’s greatest professional victories were her two U.S. Women’s Opens, in 1971 and 1976. She led after each round in 1971 and won easily, finishing seven shots better than Kathy Whitworth who finished in second.[5] In 1976, Carner needed an 18-hole playoff to defeat Sandra Palmer.

Big Mama (her other nickname) was the second player in LPGA history to cross the $1 million mark in career earnings. She had an unusually long career, remaining competitive through the late 1990s. During 2004, she still played 10 tournaments and became the oldest player to make a cut on the LPGA Tour at age 65.

On July 29 and 30, 2021, Carner played in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Connecticut and shot her age (82) in the first round, and bettered that by shooting 79 in the second round. Although she did not make the cut, she became the fifth golfer ever to shoot their age or better multiple times in a USGA championship while also being the oldest golfer ever to play in a USGA championship.

AUDIO COURTESY USGA COMMUNICATIONS

RELATED ARTICLES