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JoAnne Carner, playing in Legends Tour Open Championship, still fiery on course

PALM HARBOR — JoAnne Carner has always been easy to spot on the golf course. Known as "Big Mama," she was the one in colorful clothing, bombing drives and taking drags off her cigarette.

Now 70, Carner hasn't changed much. She doesn't hit the ball nearly as far, but she has the same look, same competitive drive and same addiction to smoking.

"The game isn't as good and I don't hit it as long anymore, but I still enjoy it,'' she said.

Carner, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, spent 36 years on tour and won 43 tournaments and two majors. She has played in 15 Legends Tour tournaments, although this weekend's Open Championship at Innisbrook is her first this season.

Out on the course, Carner longs for the past.

"The hard thing for me is that I remember how far I used to hit it," Carner said. "I'm trying to hit the same club, but it isn't working out. It's aggravating. But I've never had the yips. I'm still a good putter. And I still like to compete.''

Pro-Am winners: Hollis Stacy's team won the pro-am with a net score of 47. Her playing partners were Martin Cole, Chris Leyshock, Denise Leyshock and George Smith.

Celebrity sighting: Jane Seymour, who starred in television's Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, played in the pro-am with Jan Stephenson. Seymour also spoke at a women in sports benefit dinner Friday night, along with sportscaster Lesley Visser.

Hall of famers: The five World Golf Hall of Famers in this weekend's field — Pat Bradley, Carner, Sandra Haynie, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan combined to win 185 tournaments and 24 majors.

JoAnne Carner, playing in Legends Tour Open Championship, still fiery on course 11/20/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 6:03pm]
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