Colo. -- One of the more interesting...

COLORADO SPRINGS,

July 16, 1995|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- One of the more interesting pairings for the first two rounds of this year's U.S. Women's Open championship grouped Laura Davies, Ayako Okamoto and JoAnne Carner.

Golf is a sport that thrives on its history as much as its current events, and the fact the three players had once been involved in an Open championship playoff was not lost on the pairing's creator.

In the 1987 rain-marred tournament that wound up lasting six days at Plainfield, N.J., the three had tied at 285 after 72 holes. In the playoff, Davies shot 71, Okamoto 73 and Carner 74.

During 1995, the United States Golf Association is celebrating its centennial year with appropriate ruffles and flourishes at its various championships.

This was certainly the case last week when past Women's Open winners were saluted during a champions' dinner. Thirty-two players have accounted for the previous 49 titles, and all but seven of them attended. And 14 of those present were in Thursday's starting field.

Each was asked to share a a championship memory, and while Patty Berg, 77, the first champion in 1946, was the center of attention, former Baltimorean Carol Mann all but stole the show.

"I was leading by four shots after three rounds," the 1965 champion said, "and I had a nightmare about hitting the ball out of bounds at the 16th hole.

"The next day, I birdied 14 -- I knew I needed a cushion -- and chipped in on 15. At the 16th, I hit a 3-wood shot that stopped a foot from out of bounds. It was just out of being embedded, resting on a perch, and I laid up with 6-iron short of a creek and got a wedge on 20 feet from the hole."

That led to a birdie-par-par finish, and her 72290 was good for a two-stroke margin on 1956 champion Kathy Cornelius.

That is documented history. Now, the rest of the story.

"On the second hole of the final round Sunday, Gus Benedict [USGA president at the time] came up to me and asked if my father was in the gallery," Mann said. "One of my brothers had been arrested for vagrancy and was in the Atlantic City jail.

"What had happened was my brother Steve got into town and decided to wait at the bus station for two more brothers who were arriving about 8 in the morning. Steve was taking a nap when a policeman woke him about 7 and told him to move along.

"Just waking up, Steve wasn't too polite, said something back, and was arrested. Dad had to leave at the second hole and missed the whole front nine while going down and getting him out.

"And unknown to me at the time, our parents' home in Ruxton had been vandalized the night before. It was quite a weekend."

Mann threatened to win again on at least three occasions: A 15-foot putt to tie Sandra Spuzich went in and out of the last hole at Hazeltine GC in 1966; she tied for third at Moselem Springs CC in 1968; and, at LaGrange CC in 1974, she double-bogeyed the 16th hole when she went against her game plan and got greedy, missed an eight-footer for birdie at the 17th, and had an approach shot at 18 stop inches short of going in the cup for an eagle.

The ensuing birdie got her a tie for the lead, but Sandra Haynie birdied the last two holes to win by one.

Two-time champion Donna Caponi also had some behind-the-scenes drama in getting her first title at Pensacola, Fla., in 1969.

"I was walking down the 18th fairway with a four-foot putt to win," she said. "I looked at the putt, decided there was a left-to-right break and stood over the ball. The TV booth was directly above me and with no partition or anything, I could hear Byron Nelson say, 'Donna has this putt to win the U.S. Women's Open . . . and it breaks right-to-left.'

"I back away, and I'm thinking 'I haven't won anything to that point and Byron Nelson has all those titles.' I looked at the putt again, said to myself there is no way it goes right-to-left. I hit it the way I saw it and the ball went right in the hole.

"Later one of the TV people told me, 'We had that right on camera,' and I said, 'What camera?' and he said the one across the green.' And that was the monitor Byron Nelson was looking at, and of course he saw it from the opposite side."

Miscellaneous

There are 92 teams entered in tomorrow's annual Pro-Am championship of the Maryland State Golf Association at Baltimore CC. . . . Tuesday, there will be 64 players seeking places in the 16-player championship draw of the Maryland State's Women's Amateur at the Suburban Club, and 76 boys and 11 girls in the Maryland State Juniors at the University of Maryland. . . . David Degirolamo of Rockville is the state's only qualifier for on-site play in the U.S. Public Links championship which begins tomorrow at Stow, Mass.

This week's schedule:

Tomorrow--Maryland State Pro-Am championship, Baltimore CC, 7:30 a.m. Tuesday--Maryland State Women's Amateur championship, Suburban Club, 8 a.m.; Maryland State Junior championships, U. of Maryland, 8 a.m.; MAPGA Senior Tour, Loudoun CC, Purcellville, Va., 10 a.m. Wednesday--Maryland State Women's Amateur championship, Suburban Club, 8 a.m.; MAPGA Senior Tour, Evergreen CC, Haymarket, Va., 10 a.m. Thursday-Friday--Maryland State Women's Amateur championship, Suburban Club, 8 a.m.

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