When the U.S. Senior Women’s Open was first played at Chicago Golf Club in 2018, everyone knew it was a great idea whose time had come. What was not anticipated was that the championship would hit the ground running as fast as it did. The 5th U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Waverley Country Club near Portland, Ore., is anticipated now as much for the quality of its champions as it is for its historic significance.
Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, Annika Sorenstam and Jill McGill have all hoisted the trophy that 120 competitors will chase this week at Waverley. They are among the 50 fully exempt golfers in the field along with 70 players who earned their spot by qualifying at 13 sites across the United States. What started as a great idea in 2018 is now a great championship.
Here are 3 things to know ahead of the first round at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open:
There are three sets of sisters in the field, but only one duo is comprised of two LPGA Tour winners. The siblings won’t have to look far to see how the other is doing, either. Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam tee off together on No. 10 at 7:48 a.m. in Thursday’s first round along with Catriona Matthew. Annika won 72 LPGA events, including the U.S. Women’s Open three times, and when Charlotta won the LPGA stop in Phoenix in 2000, they became the first sisters to both claim a tour title, a feat later matched by 2018 U.S. Women’s Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister Moriya as well as Jessica and Nelly Korda.
Joining the sister act, but not playing together, are Hollis Stacy, who won the U.S. Girls’ Junior three consecutive times beginning in 1969 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1977, ’78 and ’84, and her sister Martha Leach, champion of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur who tied for 10th in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open. Like the Sorenstams, Danielle and Dina Ammaccapane will play together, teeing off No. 1 at 12:58 p.m. Danielle won seven times on the LPGA while Dina’s best finish came in 2000, when she finished T-2 at the State Farm Rail Classic.
There are 34 amateurs in the field, a tad lower than last year’s 37, but still more than the 29 who competed in the inaugural championship in 2018. The number to keep an eye on is how many make the cut. The current record is seven in 2018 and 2021. The standout amateur this week is Lara Tennant, a three-time winner of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, who is also a member at Waverley. She’ll hit the first tee shot of the championship off No. 1 at 7:15 a.m. on Thursday. “It’s a great honor to be the first off the tee, to be the first ball in the air,” Tennant said Wednesday. “I just hope I don’t oversleep,” she joked.
Tennant also competed in the 2000 U.S. Women's Amateur at Waverley and was the medalist in the 2017 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur at the club.
Several players who competed in the 1981 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Waverley, won by Juli Inkster, a five-time USGA champion, are in the field this year: Inkster, Brenda Kuehn, Carol Semple Thompson, Jane Geddes, Kimberly Williams, Laurie Rinker, Lisa Grimes and Martha Leach.
Anne Sander, 85, of Seattle, Wash., is the oldest player in this year’s field and the oldest to compete in the championship’s history. Sander won seven USGA championships, trailing only the nine titles by Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones, and the eight titles by JoAnne Gunderson Carner and Jack Nicklaus.
Sarah Gallagher, of Canton, Ga., is the youngest competitor. She turned 50 on Aug. 17, just one week before the first round of the championship. There are 12 players in the field who are 50 years old, including Charlotta Sorenstam and Wendy Ward, who won the 1994 U.S. Women’s Amateur and played on the USA Curtis Cup Team that year.
Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.