In February of 2015, the United States Golf Association announced it is adding a 14th National Championship to its list of outstanding events. The U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship will be played for the first time in 2018.

juli inkster US Senior Womens Open
Juli Inkster

In January of this year, they supplemented that announcement by naming the critically acclaimed Chicago Golf Club as the site for this historic event. Establishing the championship was welcome and overdue news for many in the world of golf. For me, it was a reason to think about which 50-year-old (or older) great player will be the inaugural champion.

With several questions still to be answered (the least of which are field size and time of year) and an admittedly cloudy crystal ball, I decided to have a little fun and handicap the field, then pick the winner of the very first U.S. Senior Women’s Open. To accomplish this “Nostradmian” feat I have broken down the field into four categories; Sentimental Stories, Time is Running Out, Prime Time Players and Young Guns. There is no way to know if all, or for that matter, any on my list will still be playing, let alone competitive enough to contend in a U. S. Open but that’s not really my point. What is important is that this is a chance to remember women’s golf’s greatest players and celebrate their new found opportunity to win a national championship. So here goes…

Patty Sheehan US Senior Womens Open
Patty Sheehan

The Sentimental Stories

  • Nancy Lopez (will be 61)
  • Patty Sheehan (will be 61)
  • Amy Alcott (will be 62)
  • Jo Anne Carner (will be 79)
  • Pat Bradley (will be 67)
  • Hollis Stacy (will be 64)
  • Donna Caponi-Byrnes (will be 73)

It’s hard to give any of these great players much of a chance in 2018. I know and love them all but if I have to pick one from this group to make the cut I’ll go with 2-time U. S. Women’s Open winner Sheehan.

Time Is Running Out

  • Beth Daniel (will be 61)
  • Juli Inkster (will be 57)
  • Betsy King (will be 62)
  • Rosie Jones (will be 58)
  • Jane Geddes (will be 58)

Again great players all but it comes down to Inkster and Daniel from this group. Juli is one of the most decorated champions in USGA history (5 national championships). Beth won two United States Women’s Amateurs and would love nothing more than to add a U. S. Open trophy to her collection. But it won’t surprise me if Inkster is still competitive on the LPGA Tour when this rolls around so, with a tip of the cap to Beth, I’ll give the nod to Juli.

Liselotte Neumann US Seniors Women Open
Liselotte Neumann

Prime Time Players

  • Dottie Pepper (will be 52)
  • Laura Davies (will be 54)
  • Meg Mallon (will be 55)
  • Liselotte Neumann (will be 52)
  • Helen Alfredsson (will be 52)
  • Lori Kane (will be 53)

Another good looking group. Davies could still be competitive, as could Alfredsson and Kane but Pepper is a broadcaster now (and an excellent one). Mallon’s game is, and always was, made for U. S. Opens so give me another 2-time champ, Meg Mallon.

Donna Andrews US Seniors Womens Open
Donna Andrews

Young Guns

(all will be 50 in 2018)

  • Pearl Sinn
  • Becky Iverson
  • Dana Dormann
  • Jackie Gallagher-Smith
  • Joan Pitcock
  • Donna Andrews

Your guess is as good as mine but youth is compelling when thinking about the winner of a 72 hole, no carts allowed, championship. But I haven’t heard a lot lately about any of these players so from this group my choice would be Donna Andrews

I know I’m forgetting a number of very fine players and great people but I hope they don’t take that personally. This is my “favorites” list so I’ll throw caution to the wind and hope all the potential participants stay happy and healthy over the next three years. I’ve consulted the crystal ball and through the haze, I’m here to tell you that Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon will be tied after the regulation 72 holes. Then in the first ever, for any U. S. Open, three-hole aggregate playoff….

Meg Mallon wins by one to earn her place in history as the very first United States Women’s Senior Open Champion.

Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel
Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel

Take it to the Bitcoin bank. Then we’ll all wait until 2021 when Annika becomes eligible for the first time.

 


Keith Hirshland

cover me boys book coverKeith Hirshland’s experience has taken him all across the country, covering sport’s most famous athletes and television’s most interesting and charismatic personalities. Having worked at both the local affiliate and national network levels, Hirshland was on hand for the beginning stages of ESPN2 and one of the first forty people hired at the Golf Channel when the world’s first niche sports channel began its preparations in 1994. For years, he was part of the production team for golf’s nationally televised Skins Game. Hirshland has worked alongside sports television’s most iconic figures and his book ‘Cover Me Boys‘ features great behind-the-scenes stories from more than 30 years in the sports broadcasting business.

Image credits: 
Juli Inkster – JeanFrancois Guillemette via Creative Commons Licence
Liselotte Neumann –  Marty Fries Flicka
Patty Sheehan – www.leonlevin.com
Meg Mallon/Beth Daniel – Rebekah Thayer Flicka

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