Woodholme pro heads for Women's Open

Slaughter is 2-for-2 in qualifying attempts

June 01, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Susan Slaughter, teaching professional at Woodholme Country Club, is 2-for-2 in U.S. Women's Open qualifying attempts.

Slaughter, 29, used the same strategy both times -- going to the site where most of the LPGA players were in the field. "I like to go where the best players are, because the better the competition, the better I play," she said recently.

It was true last month, when she shot par 72 at The Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., where 129 competed for 22 spots, to make it into the field for this week's championship at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.

In her first attempt, she was second-low at Columbia CC in Chevy Chase in 1991, the day after that year's LPGA Championship at Bethesda CC. At the Open at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, she registered 77-76 and missed the cut by a stroke.

Slaughter's recent qualifying effort was especially meaningful. Her mother, who had recovered from a heart attack, made the trip with her and turned out to be an inspiration.

"I started bogey, double-bogey, but then began hitting it close," she said. "I birdied 17 and 18 to shoot 32 on the back."

The past eight years have been a tough road for the native of Floyd, in southwestern Virginia. She has been in three automobile accidents, each coming about the time she was pain-free and ready to try an LPGA qualifying school.

"This is my fourth attempt to stay healthy," she said. "Last winter, four months after I had finished teaching, I was messing around and realized my body didn't hurt.

"I worked with my teacher, Jay Hardwick [veteran MAPGA professional, currently at Virginia Tech GC], and he helped me. He knows my swing so well, if I get off, I can call him and he'll tell me what to do."

Slaughter, the 1990 NCAA champion at the University of Arizona, appeared headed for a professional career when sidelined by her first accident. More recently, recovering from her third accident, Slaughter sent out resumes, looking to land a teaching position in the Middle Atlantic.

As it happened, Woodholme was looking for a woman teacher when the resume arrived. Although several other clubs showed an interest, she interviewed at the Pikesville club and was hired.

"We have such an extensive teaching program, we were delighted to be able to get her," said Woodholme professional Barry Fuhrman.

Another important member of the teaching staff is Wayne DeFrancesco, who will try to qualify for the U.S. Open in the sectional event Monday at Woodmont CC.

"Wouldn't that be neat if the club had two Open players?" Slaughter said.

Women's Open

Event: 54th U.S. Women's Open golf championship

When: Thursday through Sunday

Where: Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, Miss.

Purse: $1.75 million ($315,000 to the winner)

Defending champ: Se Ri Pak

TV: Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., ESPN; Saturday-Sunday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., NBC (chs. 11, 4) Pub Date: 6/01/99

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