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.
Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play
ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.
As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.
Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.
This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.
The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.