Carner proves age is just a number

By Anthony Rhoads

There's definitely a youth movement in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

That was evident over the weekend at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship with Aree Song, who celebrated her 18th birthday Saturday and led after rounds 2 and 3. Song couldn't hold on to the lead as she shot a 78 to finish at 5-under par for the tournament n- not bad for a girl still in her teens.

And how about 25-year-old Jennifer Rosales? She started the final round at 7-under par but played a superb round 4 to win the tournament at 14-under par. It was Rosales' first career LPGA victory and she was very emotional right after she learned that she was the winner.

"It feels so good," she said as she fought back tears of joy. "I'm so happy."

In addition to Rosales, three other players 25-years or younger placed in the top 10 including Jung Yeon Lee, 25; Lorena Ochoa, 22; and Natalie Gulbis, 21.

Even though the LPGA is increasingly becoming a young ladies' game, the older generation was well-represented at this year's Chick-fil-A Charity Championship and the tournament was the scene of a pretty cool accomplishment by one of the all-time greats.

JoAnne Carner was not a factor in the final round of the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.

She shot a 77 in the final round to finish at 12-under and place 90th.

But at 65-years old, she broke her own record for being the oldest player to make a cut for an LPGA event.

After the second round of play Friday, she stood at 3-over par but it was good enough to make the cut.

In an age where the ladies are getting younger and younger on the golf course, Carner could be considered a latecomer to professional golf.

In 1970, she turned professional at the ripe old age of 31 after a stellar amateur career.

Carner won five U.S. Amateur titles, a U.S. Girls Junior Championship and competed on four U.S. Curtis Cup teams.

In 1969, she competed as an amateur at the LPGA's Invitational and won the event. It was the last time an amateur won an LPGA tournament.

Carner went on to have one of the best careers ever in the LPGA.

She won 43 tournaments, including two majors (the 1971 and 1976 U.S. Women's Open). She stands as the only player to have won the U.S. Girls Junior, the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Open.

She's racked up plenty of awards throughout her LPGA career, including the rookie of the year, three player of the year awards and five Vare Trophy awards, given to the player with the lowest scoring average for the year.

In 1982, she was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame and in 1995, she won the William and Mousie Powell Award, which is given to player who best exemplifies the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.

Now, the torch is being passed from players like Carner to the new generation and if the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship is any indication, the future of the LPGA couldn't be any better.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Herald. He can be reached at arhoads@henryherald.com or sports@news-daily.com.