On April 4 my good friend, JoAnne Carner (glasses), will turn 60
years old. When JoAnne joined the LPGA tour--they were playing
with hickory shafts--she was known as the Great Gundy (her
maiden name is Gunderson) because she had won five U.S.
Amateurs, thanks to a deadly mashie and niblick.
Every now and then in Florida, JoAnne and I play in a money
match, and I hope she doesn't retire anytime soon. My bank
account would really suffer. In a couple of years she'll be
collecting Social Security, and we can really up the ante.
I think so highly of my pigeon that I named a horse after her:
T.G. Gundy. That was the least I could do since JoAnne buys the
hay. In Nashville one year she swaggered out of the locker room
and announced that she was going to shoot her address: 30-30. To
this day she still hasn't done it, but at least now JoAnne can
brag that she's as old as her address: 30+30.
Seriously, though, JoAnne is a true pro, protecting the
integrity of the game she holds sacred. My fondest memory of her
is from the playoff between us at the '93 HealthSouth Classic. I
had mixed emotions because she was, at 53, trying to break her
own record of 46 years, five months and nine days as the LPGA's
oldest winner. On the tee she turned to me and said, "Whoever
wins, let it be with a birdie." When I rolled in the 15-footer
for birdie on the first hole, her joy was obvious as she
blurted, "You rat."
When I think of JoAnne, I see her stalking a putt, like a lion,
from every angle. She has amassed 42 wins, including two U.S.
Opens, plus three player of the year awards and five Vare
trophies, but winning has never been her only priority. I often
saw her in a bunker or on the chipping green giving a rookie or
a veteran a lesson on her specialty--the short game. She has
definitely given back to the game she loves, and I'm proud to
call her my best friend.
Tammie Green, a seven-time winner on the LPGA tour, turns 40 on
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK