U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Neumann Takes on New Role in USGA Championship
September 18, 2016 | Wellesley, Mass.
By David Shefter, USGA
Liselotte Neumann has returned to a USGA championship this week. But the Swede is playing an unfamiliar role at the 55th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
On Saturday, the 1988 U.S. Women’s Open champion and six-time Solheim Cup competitor donned a caddie bib and pushed a golf trolley up and down the hilly terrain of Wellesley Country Club.
After longtime friend Evelyn Orley, of Cardiff, Calif., qualified last month for her first USGA championship, she called the 13-time LPGA Tour winner with a question: Did she want to caddie?
Neumann, 50, was happy to assist Orley. The pair had become friends 35 years ago when they competed on the European junior circuit, Neumann for Sweden and Orley for her native Switzerland. The two also competed together on the LPGA Tour in 1993 before Orley tired of that lifestyle and settled into a job with an asset management company in San Diego.
Over the years, the two stayed in touch and occasionally played golf in San Diego or Palm Springs, where Neumann now resides.
Orley, who turned 50 in July, thought Neumann’s experience would be invaluable for her return to competition after a 20-year hiatus. Outside of a triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 third hole, where she found the water hazard, the partnership proved successful.
“She knows my game well,” said Orley after carding a 4-over-par 78. “It really helps to have her on my bag – except on the last hole.”
That last comment was said with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Orley overshot the green on the par-5 ninth hole and made bogey.
“It’s a little bit different,” said Neumann, who also captained the 2013 European Solheim Cup Team to its first-ever win on U.S. soil at Colorado Golf Club in suburban Denver. “You want her to do well, but it’s a little bit out of your control. You try to give as much feedback and help as you can.”
When the round ended, Neumann forgot to return the caddie bib, but a reminder came from the other USGA champion in their group: 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Jerry Courville Jr., who is caddieing for fellow Connecticut resident Jo Rasmussen.
Courville gave Neumann a thumbs-up for her caddie work. “Occasionally they lagged behind,” he said jokingly.
Whatever mistakes she made, Neumann likely will fix them for the second round, as she has proven to be a quick study at USGA championships. After missing the cut in her U.S. Women’s Open debut, in 1987, she won the championship the following year at Baltimore Country Club.
Neumann carded a pair of 69s on the weekend to win by three strokes over Patty Sheehan. She would go on to earn 30 additional worldwide victories, including the 1994 Women’s British Open and the 1987 Singapore Open – three years before Orley won the same event.
Orley, who played at Duke University, turned pro in 1990 and won twice that year, claiming the Swiss Open in addition to the Singapore Open. When she missed 19 of 20 cuts on the LPGA Tour in 1993, Orley started planning for a future outside of golf.
Her ultimate dream in golf had been to compete in the Olympics, even petitioning the International Olympic Committee in 1988 to add the sport. Her grandfather Zoltan Őssy-Őlvy represented Hungary in the 1936 Olympics in shooting; her father, Thomas, competed in fencing for the U.S. in 1964.
Thomas later moved to Switzerland, where Evelyn was born. The highlight of her career remains winning her native country’s national championship in 1990.
A dual citizen of Switzerland and the U.S., Orley regained her amateur status in 2002, but the Senior Women’s Amateur qualifier at the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif., on Aug. 23 was her first competitive round since retiring in 1993. She shot 72 to earn to earn medalist honors.
“I just turned 50 and I was playing golf [recreationally] and having fun,” said Orley. “Work got a little slow this year, so I told myself, ‘Why not play golf?’”
Similarly, Neumann is looking forward to competing more after having dialed down her playing schedule. She plays on the Legends Tour, the LPGA’s circuit for players 45 and older, and will defend her title late next month at the Walgreens Charity Championship in Delray Beach, Fla.
She is eagerly looking forward to the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2018 at Chicago Golf Club. Earlier this summer, she returned for a round at Baltimore Country Club, where she hoisted the replica trophy.
“They treated me like a queen,” she said. “It was really nice.”
If the rest of this week goes well, perhaps she and Orley can return to Wellesley in a couple of decades to reminisce about a victorious partnership.
After all, winning a USGA championship is special, even if it comes in a secondary role.
David Shefter is a senior writer and content manager for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.