FAIRFIELD, Conn. — JoAnn Carner might be the coolest 82-year-old golfer you’ll ever meet, and she’s isn’t done adding to her living-legend status.
During Thursday’s first round of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, the eight-time USGA champion and World Golf Hall of Famer shot her age, posting a 10-over 82 at Brooklawn Country Club. This was the second time Carner has done that in a USGA championship, having shot a 79 at age 79 at the inaugural Senior Women’s Open in 2018.
With the achievement, Carner became just the fifth golfer in history to shoot his/her age or better more than once in a USGA championship. She joined Jerry Barber, who pulled off the feat an amazing nine times; Tom Watson (3); Hale Irwin (3) and Harold “Jug” McSpadden (2).
Carner, who qualified for the Senior Women’s Open by virtue of her two U.S. Women’s Open titles in 1971 and 1976, accomplished the feat despite suffering from back spasms throughout the round, which inhibited her putting. She hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation but had 36 putts.
“Three-putted a lot,” said Carner, who hadn’t played golf for 14 months during the COVID pandemic but spent that last two months preparing for the Senior Women’s Open, losing 24 pounds in the process. “I made two doubles missing the green. Other than that, it was three-putting.”
Oddly enough, finalizing that Carner shot her 82 was a project in and of itself. Carner and her playing partners, USGA standout amateurs Carol Semple Thompson and Ellen Port, were in the scoring area when it was discovered that Carner had made six mistakes on her scorecard. “We couldn’t add right,” Carner joked, “had to go back, and then we couldn’t remember the hole.”
Carner’s caddie, a regular Brooklawn loop who is an Evans Scholar at Michigan State, helped clear up the confusion.
Merely by competing on Thursday, Carner, who uses a golf cart after submitting an ADA petition to the USGA for her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, broke another USGA record in that she became the oldest golfer to ever compete in a USGA championship. The previously record was held by McSpadden, who was 81 when he played in the 1990 U.S. Senior Open.
Carner has two more years of eligibility left in the Senior Women’s Open, so if she returns to play next year at NCR Country Club, or again in 2024, she can push the age record out to a place no other golfer will likely be able reach.