Posts Win Still a Major Deal

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Nearly a quarter of a century before Annika Sorenstam threw a curveball last week by announcing her retirement at the end of this season, a high profile Canadian did something similar when she walked away from the LPGA Tour in her mid-30s.
 
It wasnt just about playing and winning. It was a life experience until my mid-30s and I always said once I got tired of the traveling and I lost that edge, I was out of there and I did walk away from it still a pretty good player, said Oakvilles Sandra Post, who retired in 1984.
 
It was my personality to close that chapter and open new ones, added Post, who will be honoured by Canadas Sports Hall of Fame with a sold-out golf tournament and dinner at Copper Creek on June 3 to recognize the 40th anniversary of her landmark win at the LPGA Championship on June 24, 1968.
 
Not only did Post become the first Canadian to win a major championship, she also became the youngest person ever to hold a major title, a distinction she held until last year.
 
My LPGA life is really very complete. I was actually very happy with it. When I left, I didnt leave with any regrets. I was looking forward to a new career, said Post, who ventured into broadcasting, publishing and instruction videos over the years, while running her busy golf school near Caledon.
 
Her second career(s) were spinoffs from her first one, which started with sudden impact just a few months into her tour career at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass., where she hooked up with a 14-year-old local caddie.
 
I was 20, so together, we were 34, joked Post, who found herself in an 18-hole Monday playoff with the legendary Kathy Whitworth, now the tours all-time leader with 88 wins. Post called her dad, who decided to come for the Monday showdown. He wasnt the only one.
 
All the media had just been covering Bob Charles win at the Canadian Open at St. Georges. They filed their stories and they ran to the airport too. I would say there were four or five of them on the flight with my dad, said Post, who sought advice from veterans Susie Berning and Mickey Wright.
 
Did I have a plan? No. Did I even know what was happening? No, she said. I asked them, How do I do this? and they said ,Just go out there and give her all youve got right off the top, and I said, Oh, OK.
 
Post did her part and was four under after four holes. The trouble was, so was Whitworth. On the fourth hole, I look up on the hill and there was that Susie Berning standing there and I said, Now what do I do? said Post.
 
I chipped in three times that round. I hit a wedge in on 16 from maybe 80 yards out and it was to an elevated green back to the clubhouse. We were way below. There was this big, loud noise and I said, Oh, it has to be close, and, of course, it was in.
 
As Post recalls, Whitworth struggled on 17 courtesy of a trip into the woods, but she says the seven-shot margin that separated the two at the end was closer than it appears. I wasnt aware that it was going to be so important in my life at the time, she said.
 
My whole goal my rookie year was to be rookie of the year and after I won the LPGA Championship, I still didnt think I was going to be rookie of the year and there were only a couple of other rookies on the tour that year, said Post, who eventually won that coveted distinction.
 
She would quickly discover how that major championship would change her life. All the New York daily papers carried it and it was a big, huge picture because I was young, I was a non-American and, at the time, they had very few non-Americans on the tour, said Post, who was to play in Baltimore a few days later.
 
She informed then executive director (commissioner) Lenny Wirtz that she was too tired to play. I had $3,000 in my pocket because I had just won the LPGA Championship and I got a big bonus from my golf club company, she recalled.
 
He turned to me and he said, Sandra, you are now the LPGA champion and you have a responsibility and you will play. He said hed fine me as much as I won.
 
It was no coincidence that Canada would host three LPGA events in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver the year after Post won the big one. Womens golf was hitting new heights of popularity and Post, who set the standard for future Canadians with eight careers wins, did indeed have a responsibility.
 
Its a responsibility that shes happily lived up to for 40 years and counting, which makes her landmark accomplishment back in 1968 an occasion to celebrate.
 
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Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.