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May 15, 2019

Jan Stephenson

Southern Pines, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jan Stephenson, winner of the 1983 U.S. Women's Open who later this year will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Jan, welcome. Just start by talking a little bit about last year's inaugural event in Chicago and some reflections on that.

JAN STEPHENSON: Yeah, it was really special. It was nice to be treated that way again, too. It was really nice. I mean, we had so many friends that have not really seen me play in a major, so they all showed up. So it was really fun. We play on The Legends Tour, so we see a lot of the players, but there were a lot more there than I hadn't seen since I've retired years and years ago and then have gone on and had a career or a family. So it was very special for them to see them.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about being here at Pine Needles and of course when you're inducted in June, it'll be alongside the late Peggy Kirk Bell.

JAN STEPHENSON: Yeah, it's always been great to come here. She's always done an amazing job of being a wonderful host, and the golf course seems like it gets tougher every time, not just because I'm hitting it short but because the golf course just is maturing into really a tough golf course.

Peggy was -- I remember in 1997, she'd watched me practice, and she said -- I remember her saying -- I said, Well, what do you think? She said, I think you're practicing too much, because you're going to get tired. And then she watched me play a few holes, and I asked her what she thought when I got done, and she said, Well, you need to let things happen in a major. Because I bogeyed the holes that I considered birdie holes, and I said, That's not what I had planned, and she goes, It's because you don't let it happen.

And I said, Well, how -- is that from experience? And she said, Yes, because I did the same thing as you, so I know you should be more patient in an Open. And I think of all the Opens that -- I've not blown but had more of a chance, and I wasn't patient. So she was actually right.

Q. Talk a little bit about the impact that this event could have on The Legends Tour.
JAN STEPHENSON: Well, I think it's definitely had an impact, even from last year. I noticed so many -- much more interest, people knew more about -- kept saying, oh, we didn't even realize you had a Tour, because everybody kept saying, Why don't you have a Champions Tour? And it's like, Well, we kind of do.

But unfortunately I talked to some of the -- of my peers, my era, and they all kind of say, well, we can't be competitive. But it's certainly good for the future. The Laura Davies and Juli Inksters are in a pretty nice position, as is Annika and all these others. I talked to Karrie Webb, and she can't wait for a Senior Women's Open and a Senior Tour. So it definitely is going to help it because it showcases it, and you have to really get on television for that to happen.

Q. Do you think it will help with sponsors, tracking --
JAN STEPHENSON: Definitely. You talk to sponsors, and they always want that exposure. And you know, we tease all the time that -- I always say, up until recently, I wished I'd have kept all those golf balls in the bathtub because I had to buy golf balls. But since that televised tournament, now actually sponsors have come on board and you actually don't have to buy equipment anymore. When you're playing on Tour, you don't even realize that because everything gets thrown at you, and then suddenly when you leave and you're not exposed to the media, then -- the media is so important to any sponsor, obviously, and they're going to get their money's worth that way.

So this tournament, this championship is really, I think, opened all that up.

Q. What are the toughest parts about playing this golf course?
JAN STEPHENSON: Well, it's just like every new event and every tournament nowadays. It's all about power. And when you compete a lot, you find a way, even if you're not long, like I was never really a long hitter, but you find a way when you compete, and the problem I have is because I don't play that much, I still like to practice and I have a pretty good short game because when I do my wine and rum tastings, I have a short game clinic and taste at the country club.

So my short game is good, but I'm going to need it because I feel like I'm playing about six par-5s because the golf course played really long. I mean, it reminds me a lot of the Masters when Lee Trevino wouldn't play because he felt like he couldn't carry all those hills, and that's the way I feel here. I played with a big hitter yesterday, a practice round, Wendy Doolan, and she was bombing it over the hills, and instead of it just being a 50-yard difference, it was a 100-yard difference.

Unfortunately at this stage of my career, I'm certainly not going to be competitive as far as winning, but I still just want to get out there and compete.

Just Monday and Tuesday driving up, I got the goosebumps and the butterflies because you know you're getting ready to -- I woke up this morning going, Why am I edgy? And it's like, Wow, because I actually get to compete.

Q. You've known a long time now that you're going to go into the Hall. Is there any anticipation now as you get ready to go to Pebble for the induction?
JAN STEPHENSON: Well, there's actually -- Hollis had told me there's a lot more work involved, and there is, because they choose what things they want displayed, and you've got to choose whether you want to give them, take them back or keep them there forever. I don't have children, so I probably will leave it there. I talked to David Graham, one of the other Hall-of-Famers, and they said, We'd rather everybody share those trophies than just have them in your own house or at my golf course that I own.

So that part of it has been very nostalgic because they wanted the majors, but as I pulled out -- some of the trophies have been stolen over the years, but it's still pretty exciting to go back and look at the Australian Open or the -- I won the LPGA -- Australian LPGA in 1973, so you go back and look at -- and all of the silver, of course, has all gone black.

And so it was actually very nostalgic to go back and get it all, and I felt like I was bypassed quite a few times, and now they have changed the merit rules, so they do accept all my international wins now, which they didn't before, because I was kind of ahead of the time when they did that. Because the Australian Tour was so small and as we all left to go overseas, it kind of dissolved for a while. So I had to put myself down as an American Tour player, so then they didn't recognize my internationals. So it's nice that they've come and done that.

I think the thing that's really amazing is that if it had happened five, ten years ago or whenever, I don't think it would have had the impact on me. I mean, I'm so much more appreciative, and I'm savoring it more now because that's about the only golf part I have now. I'm so busy in business. But I'm really enjoying it, and I wouldn't have -- I don't think I would have savored it -- because I kept saying, oh, well, it'll be a cherry on top, but I won't get that, I'll just have had a wonderful Sunday with strawberry and vanilla and all that stuff and the whipped cream and the nuts, but obviously this is the cherry, and I've really enjoyed it.

Q. From where were your trophies stolen?
JAN STEPHENSON: Well, I had them in storage when I was moving houses, and the storage unit got broken into. And we've been trying to find one of the things on eBay, but they're not going to show up. I would have liked to have my USGA medal. That was stolen. And the U.S. Open trophy.

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