JoAnne Carner didn't need to do anything this week at Chicago Golf Club during the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open to solidify her career. The World Golf Hall of Famer won 41 LPGA events in her storied career, including two majors, and was inducted into the WGHOF 36 years ago (in 1982). Carner has been a Hall of Famer for longer than most of today's LPGA Tour players have been alive.
And yet on Thursday, Carner, known as JoAnne Gunderson for the beginning of her career, turned 79 this year on the Wednesday before the Masters, and shot her age to begin the USGA's first tournament for senior women, giving the event an ultra-impressive feat in just a few hours of competition. Carner actually hit the first tee shot of the day, filling in for honorary starter Nancy Lopez who has an injury, and stripped it down the middle. Carner played in the first group of the day with fellow legends Hollis Stacy and Sandra Palmer.
What makes Carner shooting her age even more impressive is that she had a tap-in for her birdie on the 18th hole—converted to a par 5 for the competitors this week—to shoot her 79. Check out her scorecard:
Thanks to Golfweek's Beth Ann Nichols, there's video of Carner teeing off on her final hole of the day.
So cool—we're blown away by her accomplishment. And according to Nichols, after her round, Carner headed back out to the range, telling media there that she think she can break 79 on Friday. Of course she did.
Look at this sweet swing—for someone who hasn't walked a golf course since 2004? That's truly impressive:
Carner told media before her first round that she had her sights on making the cut, and that goal looks even more real after the 6-over par first round total. The 79-year-old boasts one of the more impressive legacies in women's golf, being one of five players to have won three different USGA championships (U.S. Women's Open [two-time winner], U.S. Women's Amateur [five-time winner] and U.S. Junior Girls), joining Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Carol Semple Thompson.
We know a lot of people who will be rooting for her to do so. And any of us would sign up for that level of play at 79—especially at Chicago Golf Club, with some of the most difficult set of greens in the country. Way to be, JoAnne.