Big Momma Keeps on Trucking
Instead, she arrived at the tee on a rainy morning - an umbrella in her right hand, a cigarette in her left - to compete with women young enough to be her daughters. Or her grandchildren.
'I get with these kids,' Carner said in that raspy voice of hers, 'and I don't feel my age. I feel closer to their age.'
The Hall of Famer turned 65 last month, but she doesn't think about retiring. Not when she's having so much fun.
This weekend, Carner broke the record for oldest player to make a cut on the LPGA Tour. The previous mark? Well, that belonged to Carner, too - she made the cut at the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
That makes her 2-for-2 in 2004, a good start to a year in which she hopes to play about 10 times and show all these JoAnne Carner-wannabes a thing or two about staying power.
'I'm just absolutely amazed that she's 65,' said 29-year-old Becky Morgan, who played with Carner in the first two rounds of the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship. 'I just hope I'm still able to swing a club when I'm 65, forget about still being out here on tour.'
Here's a little perspective. Sunday's winner, Jennifer Rosales, was born in 1978. That year, Carner earned the 22nd and 23rd wins of a career that didn't get going professionally until she was 31.
Carner picked up the last of her 44 LPGA Tour victories nearly two decades ago, winning twice in 1985 when she was 46 (one year later, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner, also at 46).
She is still on the LPGA Tour because there is no senior tour for women. While Carner wants to keep playing, the 64-year-old Nicklaus recently said this probably is his last season of competitive golf.
For 18 years, Carner was the oldest player to win on the women's tour, but Beth Daniel claimed that title by about 2 1/2 months with a victory at the Canadian Women's Open in July.
Carner has little chance of recapturing the record - she finished last among the 90 players making the cut at the Atlanta-area tournament - but she has every intention of putting the cut record out of reach.
'Beth Daniel wiped out my record for being the oldest winner,' Carner said. 'This is my consolation.'
Carner stays fit with a routine that definitely puts her at odds with health-conscious players who munch on Powerbars and turn the workout trailer into a second home.
While waiting to tee off Sunday, the other members of Carner's threesome - Tonya Gill and Kelly Robbins - chipped and putted on the practice green right up until their names were called.
Carner, meanwhile, squeezed in another cigarette, chatted with her caddie and glanced up a few times at the threatening skies. Then it was time to play.
'I don't get tired or anything,' she said. 'Well, I do huff and puff up some of these hills. Atlanta's always a killer.'
Carner, who first played on the LPGA Tour as an amateur in 1962, looked as though she was about done a year ago. For the first time in her career, she failed to make a cut. After seven tournaments, she called it a year, disgusted with herself for shooting an 84 at Kingsmill.
'My caddie asked me if I wanted to go to the practice range,' Carner recalled. 'I said, 'What for? To work on everything?' So I went back, bought a pack of cigarettes and quit for the year. I didn't have the faintest idea what I was doing wrong.'
Eventually, she discovered a flaw in the way she was holding her right arm on the downswing. Retirement could wait. It was time to go back to the course.
Carner still has the same smooth swing, just a bit slower. The ball doesn't go quite as far, but she can hold her own with a wedge. Most important, she still has confidence in her putter.
'I never had the yips,' she said. 'Even when I three-putt, it never bothers me.'
Carner has committed to play three of the next four weeks, and she also plans to tee it up at the LPGA Championship in June. She briefly considered trying to make the U.S. Women's Open for the first time since 1997, but she wasn't interested in going through a 36-hole qualifier to get into a tournament that she won twice in the 1970s.
Besides, she'll probably be in the Caribbean by then - fishing, snorkeling and acting a little closer to her age.
'I try to do all my playing early, so I can go fishing in the summer,' she said. 'I always take the boat over to the Bahamas two or three times in the summer. That makes it comfortable for me.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.