Jane Crafter during the US Senior Women & # 39; s Open. (Photo: USGA / Chris Keane)
Jane Crafter made a spectacularly successful look back at the memory today and rushed to part of fourth place in the US Senior Women & # 39; s Open.
The South Australian finished a remarkable week in style with four birdies en route to a one-under-par 70 who left her behind with Michele Redman at five, only four strokes behind Swedish champion Helen Alfredsson.
Crafter, 63, is at best a part-time player on the senior circuit these days, so was pleasantly shocked to have seen so many legends of the women's game in their biggest event of the season.
"If you had told me that I had defeated LD at the start of the week (defending champion Laura Davies, T9 at eight), I would have said," Yes, right! "," Crafter beamed back in the neighborhood. one of her old houses at Pine Needles Golf Club in North Carolina.
"It's just great, really. I think that week in and week out of women like Laura and Juli Inkster want to beat you here, but I have played a very nice golf most of the week and in a place that is very special for me is … so I am very happy. "
During much of her time on the LPGA Tour, the 1997 Women & # 39; s Australian Open champion played on behalf of Pine Needles as her main sponsor and home base. The club was also home to and still owned by the family of the soon-to-be founder of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Peggy Kirk Bell, for whom the Australian has the greatest respect.
"It's a very special place for me, I spent 12 years here when I came to the United States and the family really took me. Peggy was such a inspiration and a mentor for me to do this at Pine Needles just makes it more special. "
Crafter, who has won six professional events in her career, including the LPGA Tour, may be better known to the new generation as a commentator and analyst on both American and Australian television.
"I commented on a few American (Ladies) Opens on Pine Needles, but never thought I'd play here again competitive.
"And to be honest, I thought I couldn't do this anywhere (to this level)," she said.
"I got an injection (for osteoarthritis) in my knee in November and hardly played any short game material until early March.
"But I had some free time in the last month and felt good and played almost every day and it paid off a bit. I feel like I hit the ball pretty well and although I can't keep up with some of the younger girls, I have the feeling that I have fitted well and of course know the job quite well. "
Crafter will list nearly $ US44,000 for her efforts, but has invested so much more mentally.
"Of course it is nice to make a nice check, but that is not my point," she said.
"It's all about the satisfaction of playing well when needed and … still being able to compete with the younger women who play much more than I do.
"I came here this week and my first goal was to make the cut; once I did that, second place had to be the top 16 or 20 qualifying again for next year's event.
"So it's all pretty special, really.
"Once I started, it was all a matter of staying in my own little bubble and not being dragged into anything else that was going on.
"My father (old coach and commentator Brian) always said to me:" Open the door to a telephone booth, go in and hurry up and then come back again. "It's the US Open, you're going to make mistakes, but that has advice really helped me and I probably took 90 percent of the photos as I had hoped when I stepped into the cabin, so that makes me happy too. "
There was more good news for Australia at Pine Needles with Wendy Doolan raising $ US21,500 for her downright eleventh position.
Doolan, recently 50 and in her first major event on the senior circuit, was stellar after an opening 81 and finished only two battles behind Davies after a final 74.
The other two Aussies in the field, Jan Stephenson and amateur Sue Wooster, missed the middle ground, the same fate that hit the Gold Coast-based Canadian Nancy Harvey