Perhaps It Was About The Witches For Jones
By Rhonda Glenn, USGA
North Plains, Ore. – From Salem to Witch Hollow, it has been almost exactly 19 years since Rosie Jones, now 43, had her last and best chance to win the U.S. Women’s Open.
It was July 15, 1984, at Salem Country Club, in Peabody, Mass., and witches were everywhere. Remembering the Salem witch trials, the club used a silhouette of a witch as its championship insignia. It was facetious, cute, and shirts were bedecked with witches. Hats and programs and umbrellas sported witches. A "witch" in long, black robes strolled the grounds. But there was nothing supernatural about the championship.
The Women’s Open kicked off a lighter note, with a band of LPGA players performing at the pre-championship party. The festivities honored Babe Zaharias, who had captured her third and final Women’s Open at Salem Country Club 30 years before.
The 1980 champion, Amy Alcott, and JoAnn Washam got off to the first round’s fastest start with 71s, 1 under par. Wiry and tenacious, Jones, not the longest of players but accurate and certainly one of the grittiest, opened with a 73, two strokes behind.
At the halfway mark, Jones was tied for the lead at 144 with Australian Penny Pulz, one stroke ahead of Alcott.
Jones slid to a 3-over-par 75 in the third round, but was still just one stroke off the lead of Alcott and Donna Horton White.
By the eighth hole of the final round, Jones had clawed herself into a tie with Alcott and White when two-time champion Hollis Stacy began to emerge. The baby-faced Stacy, now 30, birdied the fifth and eighth holes to move within two strokes of the lead.
At the par-4 13th, Stacy smacked one of those incredible shots that turned the championship on its heels. She holed a 7-iron second shot for an eagle two. On the 16th, she made a 20-foot birdie putt to catch Jones and Alcott.
Stacy finished first, safely parring the 17th and 18th holes to finish at 290 for 72 holes. Alcott tired, finishing with two bogeys to finish at 292. Jones bogeyed the 17th to fall a stroke behind. At the 18th, it was all up to Jones.
With the hole cut in the back-left portion of the green, Jones tried for the perfect second shot up the hill, but her ball rolled too far, ending up some 8 feet over the green. Stacy nervously stood near the scoring tent.
Jones studied her shot carefully, pacing to the hole and back. She clipped a neat little chip and her ball took one bounce and began to roll. Closer and closer to the hole it rolled as Jones thrust out her left arm and kicked her left foot toward the target, nearly falling to the ground. The crowd began a low, expectant roar. Finally, the ball slipped just over the edge of the hole and finished a few feet away.
Jones made her par to finish at 291, one stroke away from tying for the Women’s Open while Hollis Stacy had captured her third U.S. Women’s Open and her sixth USGA championship.
Jones was just 24 years old and in her third year on the professional tour. In the next 19 years, her career seemed to pick up steam and she would go on to win 13 tournaments and more than $6 million.
But the Women’s Open has continued to elude her. She finished fifth in 1995 and fourth in 2000, but never again did she come as close as that one fateful stroke in the bewitched setting of Salem Country Club.
With a fast start Thursday at Witch Hollow Country Club here in North Plains, Ore., Jones may yet win the world’s greatest women’s championship. It would be the witch’s revenge.
Rhonda Glenn is the Manager of Communications for the USGA. E-mail her at email@example.com with questions or comments.