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Carner, JoAnne (1939—)

Carner, JoAnne (1939—)

American golfer. Name variations: JoAnne Gunderson; The Great Gundy. Born Joanne Gunderson on April 4, 1939, in Kirkland, Washington; graduated from Arizona State University; married Don Carner, around 1965.

Top money-winner and winner of five Vare trophies; winnings include USGA Amateur (1957, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968); LPGA Burdine (1969); U.S. Open (1971, 1976); Bluegrass Invitational (1971); Desert Inn Classic, Hoosier Open, Dallas Civitan (1974); American Defender Classic, All-American Sports Classic (1975); Orange Blossom Classic (1976); LPGA team championship (with Judy Rankin) and Borden Classic (1977); Colgate Triple Crown (1978, 1979); Peter Jackson Classic (1978); Honda Civic Classic (1979, 1980); Women's Kemper Open (1979); Whirlpool Championship and Sunstar '80 (1980); Lady Keystone Open (1980, 1981); S&H Golf Classic (1981); McDonald's Classic (1982); Chevrolet World Championship (1982, 1983); Henredon Classic (1982); Portland Ping (1983); Corning (1984); Safeco Classic (1985), becoming the oldest winner ever on the LPGA tour.

In the early 1980s, JoAnne Carner was number one in career earnings on the LPGA professional circuit. A gallery favorite who was equally good at match and stroke play, she was one of the longest drivers on the women's tour, often achieving distances off the tee of 275 yards. Carner earned over $1.6 million.

She began playing golf at age 10 and, at 17, won the U.S. Girls' Junior championship in 1956. In 1957, 1960, 1962, 1966, and 1968, she won the U.S. Amateur championship, as well as the Women's Western, The Doherty Challenge Cup, the Intercollegiate, the Trans-Mississippi, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the Northwest, and the Eastern—all under the name of JoAnne Gunderson. She married Don Carner around 1965 and did not turn pro until 1970, winning the Wendell West Open and designated Rookie of the Year. In 1971 and 1976, she won the U.S. Women's Open. In 1974, she was named LPGA Player of the Year because of her six victories. In 1975, she won the du Maurier Classic in Canada. In the 1970s, she was earning over $100,000 a year in purses. She was awarded five Vare trophies in 1975, 1976, 1981, 1982, and 1983. Said Nancy Lopez : "Now we are talking about one of the really great ones…. She has the sort of personality that I wanted to have when I came onto the tour. She seemed to make every shot exciting, from the long ones right down to the putts. The crowds like her very much—exciting is really the right word for her."

Though a motorcycle accident threatened to end her career, Carner came battling back. In 1981, she won the Bob Jones Award, ousted Kathy Whitworth from the top of the all-time money winners with $1,042,544, and was elected to the LPGA Hall of Fame. In 1983, she again led in earnings, and in 1985 she won the Safeco Classic at age 46, becoming the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history. Carner also finished as runner-up in an LPGA Tournament each year from 1986–90, and then again in 1992 at age 53.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia

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