A month ago the names on the signs at the hitting stations read
like a U.S. Women's Open honor roll. There were Susie Berning and
Hollis Stacy, who won three Opens each; JoAnne Carner and Patty
Sheehan, both two-time champions; Amy Alcott, Janet Anderson,
Jerilyn Britz, Sandra Haynie and Sandra Palmer, all winners; and
yours truly, the 1983 titlist. Funny, though, the range wasn't at
the Women's Open in Southern Pines, N.C. It was at the Hy-Vee
Classic--one of three events this year on the Women's Senior
tour--at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston, Iowa. More Open winners
played at the Hy-Vee than played at the Open, but that was to be
expected. What's surprising is that the USGA has never shown any
interest in creating a U.S. Senior Women's Open even though we
old-timers have been pleading for one for years.
The Hy-Vee gave us red-carpet treatment, and it was great to see
that some people appreciate all we've done for golf. Despite cold
and rainy weather, 12,000 fans sloshed around for the two-day
event, which I'm sure made the LPGA envious. You'd think the USGA
would jump at the chance to use our drawing power and make a buck
by starting a Senior Women's Open. It's not as if we're asking
for the world--only 54 holes and a $500,000 purse with an age
minimum of 45. Of course, the USGA has never been keen on
original ideas. The Women's Open was the brainchild of Hope
Seignious, founder of the Women's Professional Golfers
Association, who created the tournament in 1946. The USGA didn't
take over until 1953.
If I play well enough to earn an exemption to the '02 Women's
Open, I'm going to take a pass. Maybe then the USGA will take
notice and give us seniors our due.
Jan Stephenson, 49, tied for fourth at the Hy-Vee Classic.
COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN