FAIRFIELD, Connecticut – Dana Ebster wasn’t sure what to make of the interview area on the front porch of the Brooklawn Country Club.
“Can we practice first?” she asked as she stepped carefully towards the microphone. Incidentally, Ebster rocked the interview.
Just before Ebster flew across the country to Connecticut, she got up at 6 a.m. and pulled carts at Turlock Golf and Country Club in central California, where she runs a junior clinic and works in the pro shop.
The members came together to raise funds for Ebster to make the trip. She came into the field as a substitute at the 3rd US Senior Women’s Open and is now leading in 5 under with the LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam. Ebster finished her round hole-out for Eagle on par-5 from 115 yards with a down 9 iron.
“OMG,” said Ebster. “That’s all I have to say. OMG. … I’m just the little club pro that came out, so I’m super excited. “
Sorenstam makes her Senior Women’s Open debut as a favorite despite having competed in competitive golf for 13 years. In February, she made the cut on her first LPGA launch since 2008. Sorenstam is expected to be at the top of the board; Ebster is “just excited to be here”.
It’s the perfect balance between what a Senior Open represents: a celebration of greatness, a lifelong career, and an insatiable love of the game.
More: Big Mama returns to the US Senior Women’s Open
Sorenstam hosts junior events around the world as part of her foundation and has the highest honor in college golf named after her; Ebster runs a junior academy and trainer at Modesto Junior College, where daughter Makena, 18, will be a freshman this fall.
Dana Ebster will coach her daughter Makena at Modesto Junior College this fall. (Golf week photo)
Ebster, who played as Dana Arnold at USC and LPGA in the 1990s, usually works on her game at Turlock on Fridays during the Women’s League.
“Hopefully they’ll invite me to the Ladies Invitational anyway,” she said, “because that’s the most fun.”
The story goes on
When called on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. EDT due to bad weather for the day, eight players had finished the day below average, including 2018 USSWO champion Laura Davies (1 below) and amateur Ellen Port (1 below). Kris Tschetter is in third place alone with 3 under. Sixty players had yet to finish.
Sorenstam has won 72 times on the LPGA, including 10 majors and three US Women’s Open. She used to hold onto bad shots and let them fester. Now that golf isn’t even a part-time job, it’s easier for her.
Sorenstam hit 17 greens in lap 1 and finished second in the field behind Davies. She only recorded one bogey on Par-5 11.
“I think the attitude is better for me than before,” said Sorenstam. “I’ve looked at the leaderboard a couple of times, but I’ve always stared at the leaderboard. I don’t do that anymore. “
Ebster, 51, didn’t mind staring at the blackboard. In fact, someone in your group probably took a picture. There is a precious photo from the US Women’s Open 2000, Ebster’s only appearance, of her husband on the bag with their young son Christopher next to him.
Now it’s Christopher on his pocket this time. Ebster re-created the recording earlier this week.
Dana Ebster and her son Christopher pose on the 18th green. (Courtesy photo)
“I’m one of those people who always tell my players, I say: ‘Don’t get nervous,’” said Ebster. “You worked hard for that. We have worked all our lives to be in this moment. You know, as a kid, that putt is on the putting green for the US Open.
“Out there, I turned to my son and said, ‘Oh my god, I’m so excited. That’s what it’s about. We work hard for that. ‘ ”
Sorenstam has husband Mike McGee in Brooklawn, and their two children arrive on Friday. Since television coverage didn’t start until the weekend, son Will was most likely living on the USGA’s live scoring page. Tonight he’ll want to go through the rounds shot by shot with mom.
She looks forward to it. With Sorenstam back at the top of a leaderboard, it feels like the old days. But how Will and Eva remind us, so much has changed.