Carner Disappointed with Shooting Her Age in Round 1 July 12, 2018 | WHEATON, ILL. By Ron Sirak

JoAnne Carner finished with a birdie on No. 18 to complete a round of 79, equal to her age. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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With five holes to play in Thursday’s first round of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open, JoAnne Carner, 79, needed to play 1-under-par golf to shoot her age. And like a poker player slowly revealing her hand, she unfolded four consecutive pars, then flipped over a birdie on No. 18 for a 6-over-par 79 at Chicago Golf Club.

Making the feat even more remarkable is the fact that Carner began her round with four straight bogeys and closed a front-nine 43 with a triple bogey 7 on No. 9 after hitting into the water. But Carner, who was up at 4:30 a.m. for her 7 a.m. tee time, played the incoming nine in 1-under-par 36 with three birdies coming home.

Surely she was thrilled with the effort?

“No,” she said simply when asked if shooting her age gave her a sense of pride. “The driver was OK, but my 6- and 7-irons were off and short irons were always my forte. It’s all a posture thing. I’ll fix it.”

After a bite to eat and a brief rest, Carner was back on the range working on her posture and trying to hone in those short irons. 

In 2004 at the ANA Inspiration, a major championship, Carner, then 65, set the LPGA record as the oldest player to make the cut. That was also the last time she walked 18 holes – until this week. She walked 18 in practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then again Thursday. “Everyone was telling me to save my energy and just play nine, but I wanted to lose some of this weight I put on,” she said with a mischievous glint in her eye.

As for Friday, Carner not only thinks she can make the cut – the low 50 and ties – she thinks she can do something special. “I can shoot this course under par,” she said. Well, since she played the final nine holes under par on Thursday, there is no reason to doubt her.

Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.

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