Before the final round, five-time USGA champion Inkster assessed the task ahead of her, to chase down the red-hot Davies.
“I’m going to have to play a really clean round to even have a chance,” said Inkster, who proceeded to drop two strokes to Davies on the par-5 second hole, with a sloppy bogey to Davies’ birdie. Still, Inkster rallied with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, and it appeared that Davies would drop a stroke to her closest pursuer for the third consecutive hole on the par-3 10th, when she knocked her birdie putt more than 8 feet past the hole as Inkster was making an easy par.
“I think 10 was the turning point,” said Davies. “I hit my first really rank shot of the week, a horrible block-out to the right, and left a ridiculous putt, and somehow managed to two-putt it. I’ll be honest; it wasn’t the greatest hole I’ve ever played, but I think that was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.”
That enabled Davies to retain her six-stroke edge, which she bumped to eight three holes later, as she made par and Inkster struggled to a double bogey. Davies’s victory marks just the sixth time in USGA history that a champion won by 10 or more strokes. In fact, only six players finished within 20 strokes of the dominating Davies.
“As she said earlier, she hadn’t won for eight years,” said Trish Johnson, a fellow Englishman who competed for years with Davies on the Ladies’ European Tour and the LPGA Tour. “That’s a long time, even for someone as good as she is. But when she made that putt on 10, you see she had a little pump of the fist, which Laura doesn’t do a lot, and yeah, it was pretty much in the bag then.”
Johnson noted that she defeated Davies in the English Girls’ Junior when Johnson was 13 and Davies 15, “and that was pretty much the last time I beat her.” Johnson said that Davies’ performance in Round 3 was special, when she shot the championship’s low round, a 7-under 66 to Inkster’s 68 to take control.
“Yesterday’s round was possibly the best I’ve ever seen her play,” said Johnson, who was grouped with Davies and Inkster the last two rounds. “She had one poorish drive and one half-ropey iron shot off the tee, but every other iron shot was almost perfect. It was as good a round as I’ve seen in a long, long time. No one was touching her this week when she plays like that.”
Davies won four majors in her LPGA career, among 20 LGA Tour wins and 45 European victories. This one, in a first-ever championship competing against her peers and women’s golf legends on a storied venue, meant a lot to her.
“My last win was in India in 2010, so there’s the pressure you’re playing under when you’re trying to prove to yourself you can still win,” said Davies, 54. “So this ranks highly up there. And obviously because it’s a USGA event, it’s hard to compare tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements, I can assure you.”
As Johnson noted, Davies had a couple of wayward drives, but her statistical performance for the week mirrored her margin of victory. Despite hitting only 33 fairways (tied for 52nd among the 55 players who made the cut), she led the field in driving distance (254.9-yard average) and birdies (18), tied for first in total putts (121) and was second in greens in regulation (57 of 72).
Inkster and Johnson both closed with even-par 73s, with Inkster (6-under 286) placing second by two strokes over Johnson (4-under 288). It was another three strokes back to Danielle Ammaccapane, the only other player under par (1-under 291), who was solo fourth by three strokes over Yuko Saito of Japan (2-over 294).
The second U.S. Senior Women’s Open is scheduled for May 16-19, 2019, at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, in Southern Pines, N.C., the sites of three U.S. Women’s Opens, most recently in 2007.
Green-Parker’s 67 Moves Her into Top 10
Tammie Green-Parker, a seven-time LPGA Tour winner, had the low round on Sunday, a 6-under 67, just one off Davies’ 66 on Saturday, which was the best of the week. Parker, 58, of Somerset, Ohio, reeled off seven birdies after an opening bogey to climb from a tie for 27th starting the day into a tie for eighth.
“I was nervous the first two days,” said Green-Parker, who hasn’t played a full LPGA schedule in 14 years. “You can only get ready for competition by playing in competition. You can’t learn that on the range. As the week went on I got more comfortable.”
Leach Captures Low Amateur
Martha Leach, of Hebron, Ky., closed the week with birdies on two of her last three holes for an even-par 73. The 6-over-par total of 298 gave her low-amateur honors by seven strokes over Patricia Ehrhart of Honolulu, Hawaii, and a tie for 10th place.
Leach, 56, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and the younger sister of six-time USGA champion Hollis Stacy, held a three-stroke edge starting the day.
“I was afraid that somebody would tell John, my husband/caddie, and I didn’t want to know anything. I said, I’m going to play like I’m three shots behind,” said Leach. “Sometimes you get a little complacent and that’s when you make your mistakes. But it was a grind out there.”
The low-amateur honor gives Leach entry into next year’s championship at Pine Needles, a course she knows well, having caddied for her sister there in the 1996 U.S. Women’s Open.
Stacy, who won the Women’s Open three times, tied for 28th place at 14-over 306.
No. 11 Plays as Toughest Hole for Week
The 11th hole, a dogleg-left par 4 that played 359 yards on Sunday, was the toughest hole for the week at a 4.57 stroke average. The par-3 10th hole, which played 147 yards on Sunday, was the second-toughest at 3.51 strokes. No. 18, the 426-yard par 5, was the only hole to play under par for the week, at a 4.62 stroke average. For the four days, the par-73 Chicago Golf Club course designed by Seth Raynor and C.B. Macdonald played to a 78.97 stroke average.
Laura Davies, asked how important this championship is to the future of women’s golf:
“The girls who are playing the regular Tour now, they might be in their 30s or 40s, but I know it’s on Karrie Webb’s radar, and everyone is interested in a U.S. Open championship. It’s great for the girls on the Tour and all the amateurs around the world. We’ve had a few come from overseas qualifying, so people are really interested, and it’s a great chance to play championship golf again for the over-50s.”
Third-place finisher Trish Johnson, on the inaugural championship:
“Honestly, it’s one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I’ve ever played in any tournament anywhere. This morning, as I was waiting to come out here, I thought, God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do because it can be really hard work – it can be very rewarding, but it can be really hard work as well. I thought, my God, I’m actually playing in the last round of the U.S. Open with Juli Inkster and Laura Davies. It doesn’t get a lot better than that. I thought, just go and enjoy myself because everybody would kill to be in my position.”
Wheaton, Ill. - Results from Sunday's final round of the 2018 U.S. Senior Women's Open Championship, played at 6,178-yard par-73 Chicago Golf Club. POS,NAME,OFFICIAL MONEY,SCORES-TOTAL,STATUS 1,Laura Davies,$180,000,71-71-66-68-276,-16 2,Juli Inkster,$108,000,73-72-68-73-286,-6 3,Trish Johnson,$68,650,71-71-73-73-288,-4 4,Danielle Ammaccapane,$48,110,75-71-71-74-291,-1 5,Yuko Saito,$40,071,76-71-73-74-294,+2 T6,Helen Alfredsson,$33,782,72-79-73-71-295,+3 T6,Liselotte Neumann,$33,782,71-76-76-72-295,+3 T8,Tammie Green Parker,$27,327,76-75-79-67-297,+5 T8,Rosie Jones,$27,327,77-73-71-76-297,+5 T10,Martha Leach (a),$0,78-75-72-73-298,+6 T10,Suzy Green-Roebuck,$23,849,75-75-74-74-298,+6 T12,Jamie Fischer,$18,174,74-77-77-71-299,+7 T12,Cathy Johnston-Forbes,$18,174,79-72-76-72-299,+7 T12,Marilyn Lovander,$18,174,73-76-76-74-299,+7 T12,Alicia Dibos,$18,174,73-76-75-75-299,+7 T12,Barb Moxness,$18,174,76-72-74-77-299,+7 T12,Barb Mucha,$18,174,74-73-73-79-299,+7 18,Susie Redman,$14,210,74-75-76-75-300,+8 T19,Laurel Kean,$12,972,80-74-76-72-302,+10 T19,Michele Redman,$12,972,78-73-74-77-302,+10 T21,Suzanne Strudwick,$11,377,74-78-76-76-304,+12 T21,Kristi Albers,$11,377,78-72-77-77-304,+12 T23,Maggie Will,$9,331,80-73-77-75-305,+13 T23,Lorie Kane,$9,331,76-74-81-74-305,+13 T23,Lisa Grimes,$9,331,74-81-76-74-305,+13 T23,Patricia Ehrhart (a),$0,75-74-79-77-305,+13 T23,Elaine Crosby,$9,331,70-78-76-81-305,+13 T28,Hollis Stacy,$7,438,77-76-77-76-306,+14 T28,Jean Bartholomew,$7,438,73-82-76-75-306,+14 T28,Nanci Bowen,$7,438,80-75-78-73-306,+14 T28,Jane Crafter,$7,438,82-74-77-73-306,+14 32,Jenny Lidback,$6,645,77-79-73-78-307,+15 T33,Ellen Port (a),$0,79-74-76-79-308,+16 T33,Christa Johnson,$6,181,76-79-77-76-308,+16 T33,Eriko Gejo,$6,181,79-78-78-73-308,+16 36,Missie Berteotti,$5,717,76-74-77-82-309,+17 T37,Martha Nause,$5,211,74-82-77-77-310,+18 T37,Barb Bunkowsky,$5,211,77-74-75-84-310,+18 T37,Lisa DePaulo,$5,211,80-75-81-74-310,+18 T40,Sue Wooster (a),$0,81-76-78-76-311,+19 T40,Cindy Figg-Currier,$4,767,78-78-79-76-311,+19 T42,Carolyn Hill,$4,458,79-78-74-81-312,+20 T42,Amy Alcott,$4,458,77-80-78-77-312,+20 T44,Becky Iverson,$4,045,77-81-77-79-314,+22 T44,Akemi Nakata Khaiat (a),$0,78-80-78-78-314,+22 T44,Sofia Gronberg Whitmore,$4,045,80-76-80-78-314,+22 T47,Kathy Kurata (a),$0,75-81-79-80-315,+23 T47,Cathy Panton-Lewis,$3,735,78-79-83-75-315,+23 T49,Kay Cockerill,$3,426,74-84-80-78-316,+24 T49,Betsy King,$3,426,78-77-83-78-316,+24 51,Jane Geddes,$3,116,80-78-84-75-317,+25 52,Pat Bradley,$2,930,78-78-81-82-319,+27 T53,Nancy Taylor,$2,745,74-82-80-86-322,+30 T53,Marie-Therese Torti (a),$0,76-82-83-81-322,+30 55,Laurie Brower,$2,566,83-75-86-79-323,+31