San Diego golf put on one of the grandest U.S. Opens for the U.S. Golf Association two weeks ago when Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate on the 91st hole.
San Diego’s Tifanny Joh, for the second time in three years, last week won the U.S. Women’s Public Links, one of the USGA’s major events.
So, what does San Diego have to offer the USGA this week? How about a Rocco Mediate-like week from Leta Lindley at the U.S. Women’s Open, which began Thursday in Eden, Minn.
“I was inspired by Rocco Mediate,” said Lindley, the Carlsbad High alumnus. “It was awesome the way he hung in there against the world’s No. 1 player, not only for four rounds, but the playoff.”
Last month Lindley ended a 13-year drought on the LPGA Tour when she won the Corning Classic. Lindley, with a 4-year-old son, Cole, and 22-month-old daughter, Reese, wasn’t sure about the future of her career before the victory. She didn’t doubt her game, but with two young children, she wasn’t sure how much more she wanted to be on tour.
“I’m playing the best golf of my life,” Lindley said. “I’ve always enjoyed growing as a player, and I’ve improved every year I’ve been on tour. I’m excited about my game now, and I want to strive to play my best golf. It would be a shame to retire with the way I’m playing now.”
Maybe she’ll play long enough to have a chance to play a U.S. Women’s Open at Torrey Pines, now that the grand public course erased any doubts it was a proper venue for the men’s most demanding tournament.
“I thought it was great for San Diego and Torrey Pines,” said Lindley, who watched the tournament from her home in Florida with her husband, Matt. “I’m excited to see the USGA increasingly using public venues where everybody can see these great golf courses that host an open. I thought it showed how great golf is in San Diego.”
One area where San Diego golf isn’t so great, though, is supporting women. San Diego boasts one of the rising stars in women’s golf in Tiffany Joh — she’s a three-time All-American through three seasons at UCLA and was the NCAA runner-up in 2008 when she lost a sudden-death playoff — but no place for her to come home and play.
That doesn’t seem right, with San Diego being the hometown of Mickey Wright, one of the game’s finest women’s players. The Hoover High alumnus won 82 tournaments and 14 major titles.
Imagine Ted Williams’ hometown without a baseball franchise? Oh, yeah, that almost happened until Petco Park was built.
Imagine Bill Walton’s hometown without an NBA franchise. Oh, yeah, that happened, thanks to the NBA allowing Donald Sterling to hijack the franchise to Los Angeles.
Imagine Marcus Allen’s hometown without an NFL team. Oh, yeah, people in San Diego keep standing in the way of building a new stadium that would also bring Super Bowl revenue here and provide a home for San Diego State football, not to mention the Holiday Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl.
There hasn’t been an LPGA Tour event in San Diego since 1993.
Recently, though, there have been limited discussions about the tour returning to San Diego. International Management Group has explored bringing its Samsung World Championship to the Torrey Pines South Course in 2009 and 2010.
“I remember my dad used to always take me to the LGPA tournaments in San Diego,” Lindley said. “I’d love to play a tournament in San Diego or see a U.S. Women’s Open in San Diego. I didn’t have any doubts in my mind that the U.S. Open would be a wonderful championship at Torrey Pines.”
Lindley’s best career finishes in women’s majors were second in the
1997 LPGA Championship and a tie for fifth in the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open.
— TOM SHANAHAN