Gejo leads windblown U.S. Senior Women’s Open qualifying  

Writing from Lake Forest, Illinois

Monday, June 18, 2018

Eriko Gejo hails from Kawasaki, Japan, is a veteran of the LPGA Japan Tour, and now plays on their version of the senior tour.

Clearly, she’s a superb wind player based on the 1-under-par 70 she fashioned Monday at Conway Farms Golf Club, where a superheated three-club wind howled from the west most of the day, playing havoc with shot selection.

Gejo’s score in 92-degree heat not only won the qualifying medal for the Inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club next month, it beat runner-up Elaine Crosby, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, by two strokes, and third-best Jamie Fischer, a teaching pro at Conway Farms, by seven.

“I played very good,” Gejo said. “My putting was the best today. It was windy, but I like windy.”

She scattered three birdies across her front nine, then hung on. The 51-year-old tied for fifth and seventh in tournaments in Japan last year.

Crosby’s 1-over 72 looked to carry the day until Gejo, in the penultimate group, returned her card.

“Score-wise, I lived up to it, but I didn’t hit it great,” said Crosby, now a high-school principal in Jackson, Mich. “I started with a three-putt and righted the ship on the back nine. The ball carried a long way, but the greens are hard too.”

Fischer was more nervous after her 6-over 77 score was posted than while she was playing. She was even par through 14 holes, and then things got “dramatic,” with a triple-bogey on 15 followed by a pair of bogeys. Fischer rallied for a birdie at the last for 77, and what turned out to be a cushion.

“I was coming off a stretch of not-good scores, and I said, ‘Let’s just find a way to make a four here. Somehow I did.”

Fischer had 105 yards in, played her approach to 18 feet, and sank it.

Also qualifying, on 7-over 78, were Kaori Shimura of Gotempa City, Japan and Annette DeLuca of Tequesta, Fla. Several of the 33 players in the field did not finish because of the heat.

– Tim Cronin


Look for an fuller report on qualifying in Illinois Golfer’s special preview issue covering the Inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open, available here the week of the championship.

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