79-year-old JoAnne Carner shoots her age at inaugural Senior Women's Open

LPGA icon JoAnne Carner, left, shot her age, 79, at the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in Chicago on Thursday, and sits just nine shots off the lead. (Daniel White/Daily Herald via AP)

LPGA icon and World Golf Hall of Famer JoAnne Carner hadn’t walked a golf course since 2004.

Yet when she stepped up to No. 18 at the Chicago Golf Club for her final hole at the opening round of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open on Thursday, it looked as if the 79-year-old hadn’t missed a beat.

Carner easily birdied No. 18 — a 421-yard par-5 — to shoot 1-under on the back nine and, perhaps an even more impressive feat, shoot her age to kick off the inaugural Senior Women’s Open on Thursday.

Yet according to GolfWeek’s Beth Ann Nichols, the 79 wasn’t good enough for Carner.

No,” Carner told GolfWeek when asked if she was pleased with her score. “I just hit some atrocious shots. Like golf 101.”

It’s easy to see based on her scorecard where that frustration is coming from. Carner bogeyed her first four holes of the day, and then fired a triple bogey on No. 9 to shoot a 7-over 43 on the front. Though three birdies on the back — and playing the final five holes at 1-under-par — helped balance out the front and kept her in contention.

Carner is one of the best to ever play on the LPGA. She’s won 43 times in her career on Tour, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1982. She is also the only woman to have won the U.S. Girls’ Junior, U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open titles.

While she sits nine shots back of Elaine Crosby, who holds the lead after firing a 3-under 70 on Thursday, Carner said she is determined to make it to the weekend.

She even hit the range after her round, doing everything she can to ensure that she’s still competing after the 36-hole cut.

“Really, I can shoot this course under par,” Carner told GolfWeek.

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