They say the early bird catches the worm.
Susan West of Tuscaloosa was the first player to apply to play in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship, which will be held at Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton, Illinois, July 12-15. Her entry was officially received at 8:04 a.m. CST on Wednesday, the first day entries could be accepted.
She will play in a sectional qualifier in mid-June in the hopes of qualifying for this new national championship open to women 50 and over, be they amateurs with a Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4 or professionals.
“I’m an early riser and was just fiddling round on my iPad when I realized it was the first day for entries. I couldn’t get the link to open, so figured it must not have opened yet. A little later I was on my husband Tom’s computer and it opened up, so I signed up. I had no idea I was the first entrant until they let me know later that day,” West told me.
“It’s kind of cool to be the first entry in the first ever Senior Women’s Open.”
West, 53, recently earned her second consecutive Senior Women’s Alabama Golf Association Player of the Year honor for 2017 boosted by a third consecutive victory at the Women’s State Senior.
Last year she was also runner-up at the Women’s Southern Mid-Amateur, a quarterfinalist at the Jones/Doherty Senior Women’s Amateur and finished in 5th place at the Women’s Southern Senior Amateur. She also competed in three USGA national championships in 2017: U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur and USGA Women’s State Team. At the state level, West finished T10 at the Women’s Stroke Play, advanced to the Round of 16 at the Women’s State Amateur and finished 2nd at the Women’s State Four-Ball partnering with Arin Eddy.
She is the retired president of the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission, and was previously assistant dean and director of the MBA program at the University of Alabama. She was a member of the Crimson Tide’s tennis program as an undergraduate, not taking golf up until her 40s. A nationally-ranked tennis player, West won the 1993 USTA National Clay Court Doubles Championship. She has played in 12 USGA championships including seven U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs.
And now she is hoping to qualify for the first ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
“We’ve known for two or three years that this new national championship was coming. It’s been long overdue and what an honor it would be to qualify for it. It’s certainly been one of my long-term goals.”
If she qualifies, it will add to her already packed golf schedule, but she will gladly make room.
She will criss-cross the country playing in, among others, the Marlene Streit International Four Ball, where she is the two-time defending champion with playing partner Debbie Adams of Ashville, N.C.; the Trans Atlantic Four Ball; multiple USGA qualifiers: Senior Open, Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur; State Stroke Play, State Amateur, State Senior and State Four Ball; North/South Senior; Southern Mid-Amateur; and others.
“It’s such a blessing to be able to play all these events. We are so fortunate that Tom (who often caddies for his wife) and I get to do this. I don’t take it foregranted and it it is truly a gift from God. The window will be closing as Father Time won’t wait, so I’m enjoying playing all these events while I can.”
Justin Thomas and Patton Kizzire are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the FedEx Cup rankings. Very cool indeed that two players, each with such strong ties to Tuscaloosa, are leading the way on the PGA Tour this season with two wins apiece.
Long may it continue.
Ian Thompson has been writing about golf in Alabama for over 24 years. His weekly “Mr. Golf” column concentrates on golfers, golf events and people associated with the sport of interest to the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham areas. Reach him with story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org