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June 13, 2018
Southampton, New York
CRAIG ANNIS: I'd like to invite a few special guests up onto the stage. Joining us on stage here, in addition to Mike, we have our U.S. Senior Women's Open Championship director, Matt Sawicki, we have three-time U.S. Women's Open Champion Hollis Stacy and 1980 U.S. Women's Open Champion Amy Alcott. Welcome, everyone.
So, Mike, could you just share some overarching thoughts on your excitement around our inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open Championship?
MIKE DAVIS: The concept of a Senior Women's Open has been talked about for a couple of decades. We're incredibly excited that finally we've gotten to the point that we will indeed kick off, and the inaugural one will happen roughly a month from now.
It's going to happen at one of the finest golf courses and most historic golf courses in the world. That's Chicago Golf Club. That too, like Shinnecock Hills, was one of our five founding clubs.
It's a marvelous, originally Charles Blair MacDonald design, and was done in the 1920s by Seth Raynor. It's hard to think of a venue any better for the inaugural playing of this than Chicago Golf Club. With that, I'll turn it back to you.
CRAIG ANNIS: Thanks, Mike. Let's hear from our champions. Amy, I had the great pleasure of sitting next to you at dinner at our annual meeting, where I enjoyed hearing you speak passionately about what this championship means to you. Could you share your thoughts with the audience?
AMY ALCOTT: You know, the event is a long time in coming. I want to thank the USGA for stepping up to the plate way before the #metoo comments were ever made and making this a reality.
Many of us have enjoyed a long LPGA and USGA history, and we're hopeful that this event would come to fruition. Hollis, myself, and many of the top women golfers, Hall of Famers, and people in women's golf have really promoted this idea for a U.S. Senior Women's Open, and it's been many years in the making.
So, obviously, we're really thrilled. Golf doesn't stop when you're 50, as we all know it. I think we're all very, very excited that this is going to be happening at such a fabulous venue as Chicago Golf Club. Kudos to the USGA for stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing.
CRAIG ANNIS: Thank you. Hollis, I'd ask you the same question. What does this championship mean to you?
HOLLIS STACY: Well, first of all, I want to thank the USGA for stepping up to the plate and showing the women the respect they deserve. It's been a long time coming. We could have all been sitting at that bitter table of one, but we all look at this as a new beginning for all of us. We're all very excited to play in Chicago at such a great golf course.
I've had the utmost respect for the USGA. I spoke at the amateur dinner at the U.S. Open, Women's Open. Due to Irma, I thought I was going to lose everything. Now I'm in the point where, oh, there's my scrapbook. So I just ripped out a few pages, and there was, I'm going to show these girls I was just like them.
If it weren't for the USGA, I would never have had the career that I had. I thank them for everything. This is going to be a great championship for all of us.
CRAIG ANNIS: One other question before we open it up to the audience. How are you both preparing for the championship?
HOLLIS STACY: Oh, how am I preparing? Well, I am actually stretching. No, I'm practicing. As I tell my friends, I don't want to make a complete fool of myself, but I've said that throughout my career.
I'm looking forward to -- my goal is top ten. There's no way I can win it. But I am going to give it my best. You know, top 15. It was top ten, now it's top 15.
AMY ALCOTT: I'm working on my game. Some of the things that kind of got me where I am in my career -- short game, chipping, and putting -- you can't do enough of that. And, of course, as Hollis is alluding to, working on my turn because, obviously, as you get a little bit older, you've got to keep stretching. So I'm hitting a lot of balls.
It feels good. It feels really good to have an event like this to plan and to reach for. It's a great carrot to go out and compete again is a great thing. So I'm working on it.
I just want to say, Hollis was talking about the USGA. Golf is one thing, the golf journey, and you have a life journey. And part of the golf-life journey, where they intersect, is the friendships you make along the way. And Hollis and myself, we go back to Brookhaven Country Club -- was it 1969?
HOLLIS STACY: '69.
AMY ALCOTT: I played in my first U.S. Junior Girls Championship, and that's where Hollis and I met for the first time.
HOLLIS STACY: That's where Jordan Spieth started playing.
AMY ALCOTT: Yeah, Brookhaven Country Club. So our careers through the LPGA and USGA were heralded through that, the many intersections that we made in our careers. So we're thankful to the USGA and thankful for the friendship and the competitive relationship we've had all these years.
MIKE DAVIS: One thing I would add here is that beyond just knowing that there was literally hundreds of players who would want to compete in this championship or try to compete in this championship, one of the things that really motivated us was the desire to inspire more players to play senior golf on the female side.
And when I think back, while I know I wasn't at the USGA at the time, when we first started our Senior Open, it was first played in 1980, that was before there was really any what they call a PGA Tour champions, but there was no Senior Tour back then.
We like to think this is going to inspire some of those players that are in their -- it's professionals. It's amateurs. It could be teaching professionals that are in their 40s to say, you know what, I've got something to play for now. Hopefully, it will spur on more events.
At the end of it, beyond just our responsibility to conduct national championships here in the U.S., we really do believe, and I think evidence would show that by having these championships, it inspires people to play golf and certainly the elite game.
CRAIG ANNIS: Listen, we're honored that you're here with us today and really looking forward and excited to watch you play. For the media that's here, the credentialing is now open. We'd love for you to cover this historic inaugural championship.
I'd open it up to any questions you may have.
Q. I'd like to ask both the ladies about the state of your games. What part of your game maybe came back the easiest, and what part are you finding the most difficult to recover?
HOLLIS STACY: Amy, you can answer that first (laughter). I'm always bossing her around.
AMY ALCOTT: Well, when you're active and full-time on the LPGA Tour, you're hitting balls every day, you're getting stronger. You get strong just hitting golf balls. So you've got to kind of pick that up. I'm not playing 38 tournaments a year the way I was for all those years. So there's a strength factor that goes with that.
But I still play. I like to go out, still the purity of the game, and play nine holes at Riviera Country Club, where I used to sneak under the fence when I was a kid. Now I'm a member. But I still love the game, and I'm still out there trying to hit shots.
It kind of comes back like riding a bicycle, but it's the day-to-day competition that I don't have anymore. So it's just really trying to stay stretched out, like Hollis was talking about, and working on the chipping and putting and short game.
I can't say I'm getting ready for one event. I try to keep my game somewhat sharp, but that's not always the easiest thing to do when you don't have tournaments to play in. So we hope that changes.
HOLLIS STACY: I was playing golf with Joanne Carter last Saturday, and she's just amazing. So I'm, man, she can really putt. So I've been working on my stroke. What stroke do I use today? So I'm looking at her stroke. I said, maybe I'll put the finger down the shaft.
Just working on consistency. My short game's always good. I'd love to hit it further. So that's the one issue I have about length. Of course, I'm trying all these golf balls, and one goes really far, but then it goes far with the chips.
I'll be okay. I'll be okay. I might not win it, but I'll make some 50-year-olds really upset that this 64-year-old woman beat them.
Q. How far do you drive the ball now? How does that relate to you and your peak length winning everything, and how does that reflect on course setup? What is the USGA going to do about that? What assessment for the day to day?
HOLLIS STACY: The course setup is going to be 6,100. So when I was Balata and wood and steel, I would hit it 235. Now I am aeronautically --
AMY ALCOTT: Challenged.
HOLLIS STACY: No. I have a hard golf ball that spins with a club face that is metal and thinner than -- you know, I've got the latest-latest, and I have a graphite shaft that is -- you know, it's got a little wiggle now. So I probably can hit it 220, 225.
You know, as I tell all my students, we can buy our games. So I try to be as high tech as possible.
AMY ALCOTT: Well, I hit it probably around 225, something in that area. I had the pleasure of playing Chicago Golf Club, and it tests every club in your bag. Boy, the greens are very large. There's always the short game factor. I like to -- my attitude is just to go out there like Babe Zaharias and lift up my girdle and let it rip.
It's a daunting venue, but I've had the fortune -- I've been very fortunate to play some of the great courses in the world. So I'm sure it will be set up in a very challenging manner and glad to be able to put it on the docket.
Q. Babe said she wanted to loosen her girdle, not lift it up.
AMY ALCOTT: Loosen her girdle and let it fly.
HOLLIS STACY: Now we have Spanx.
AMY ALCOTT: In 1974, at the qualifying for the California State Amateur, I shot 69 at Pebble Beach in the wind and the rain, and somebody ran out there in the pouring rain and says, you just broke Babe Zaharias's course record at Pebble Beach. And do you know what she said here? So I guess my wording was wrong.
CRAIG ANNIS: Matt, do you want to talk about approach? Just the back half of that question.
MATT SAWICKI: So Shannon Rouillard does our course setup. She's coming off the Women's Open and the Curtis Cup. Hopefully she's sleeping in this morning.
Ultimately, we've done a lot of studying in preparation for this championship. Of course, we're going to present these players with the ultimate test, as we do at all our championships.
One of the things we've done, amy talked about playing at Chicago Golf Club. Every player has gone out in the last couple years since we announced this championship, we've had caddies actually tracking every single shot; the club, the distance, and we tracked that way.
We've conducted a distance study at our Senior Women's Amateur Championship. We visited with these players at a number of Legends Tour events, watching them play, studying how they play.
So Shannon, our entire team has gone out. I think we feel good about what we've learned, as we do at all of our championships. We'll spend Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday during practice rounds watching, making sure we've got it right and adjusting. But I think, ultimately, at a 6,082-yard, par 73 setup, we feel good about the test it's going to present.
Q. Two-part question. What was holding this event back? And second question for the ladies, when you learn something in golf as skills, do you know why?
CRAIG ANNIS: The first question was around this championship is now starting, I believe it was. What was holding it back from starting it sooner?
MIKE DAVIS: With respect to why now and not a decade ago, two decades ago, it's a very good question. We wanted to, frankly, make sure that any time we start a new championship, we wanted to make sure that there was, in fact, let's say, demand for it, and that was focused solely on the players.
We have decommissioned championships before in our century and a quarter of existence, so we really wanted to make sure.
So we did a lot of analysis of how many senior women amateurs might file an entry, how many former touring professionals might file an entry, teaching professionals, how many foreign players there might be. The Legends Tour was mentioned, but we did go out and did some analysis there.
We concluded several years ago that we were at that point in time, and we knew we always wanted to do it. It was just a matter of when is the right time. So very good question.
CRAIG ANNIS: And the second part of the question, it was about --
Q. It was about as players, when you learn something or when you hit a shot, do you know why? Like be aware or mindful or conscious about what you are doing?
HOLLIS STACY: Yeah, I always learn something. My memory was -- I never wrote things down, but I always said, well, I hit that one well, and I would always write down in my brain how far I hit it into the wind and would grade it on a scale of 1 to 10. Was it a 8, 9, or 10?
But I think all of us, we always judge our shots, and we learn from them, and we put it in our rolodex, and we use that for what works the next time.
AMY ALCOTT: I think, as much as it's a technical game, there's that huge feel side of the game that you put in your memory banks. It's that part that plays by feel when you compete that really comes back. It's that part of it that you rely on. It's not the technical side. It's being in the zone is all part of the feel.
Q. I'm looking forward to some millennials asking Amy what's a girdle. But I want to ask both you ladies, in preparation for this event, who should we be looking for? Who's the top gun in senior ladies golf?
HOLLIS STACY: Well, I just came back from a hugely successful event in Seattle. A Suquamish Tribe put it on. I put it on. But Trish Johnson, she's still playing the European Tour. She plays globally. She's playing really well.
Then there's Juli, Juli Inkster, she's playing well. And Laura Davies, dame Laura. So she's -- I would put those three as the top three, and maybe Lisa Lott. She's been working out a lot. I see her on Facebook skiing all the time. I said, Look at her. She's practicing.
CRAIG ANNIS: Thank you all so much. Just a reminder, the Championship takes place July 12 through the 15th at Chicago Golf Club. Please join us there. If you can't join us by watching, then support them by watching on television. Thank you so much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports