KINGSTON — Trish Johnson hit par putts on her final seven consecutive holes to maintain a five-stroke lead and win the inaugural Suquamish Clearwater Casino Legends Cup June 9-10.
The Legends Cup is a major event of the year on the LPGA Legends Tour, the official LPGA senior tour for golfers 45 and older.
The rain held off just long enough for the Great Britain-born golfer to sink her final putt on 18. It was quickly followed by a trophy presentation and a few thank you’s before raindrops started falling on the pond at White Horse Golf Club.
Johnson, a veteran of the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour — she is currently tied for third all-time in wins in the latter event and the reigning LPGA Senior champion — also had a little bit of luck on the course as well.
After a rough start to day two, Johnson’s drive on the fifth hole landed behind a bush, with no apparent path to the green. But Johnson managed to hook a shot around the bush and get past another tree, with the ball settling about two feet from the pin for an easy putt.
“Nine times out of 10, I would have chipped out, but I saw a little bit of a possible gap,” Johnson said. “You win or lose the tournament there probably.”
Johnson shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday and opened day two with bogeys on consecutive holes after missing par putts from about three feet, dropping her to 4-under, just two strokes ahead of Lisa Grimes. But she quickly recovered the lead with her self-described “ridiculous” shot on the fifth hole, turning momentum back in her favor for good.
Johnson beat a field of golfers with a combined 30 LPGA major championships and hundreds of tournament wins to claim the $25,000 top prize at the $175,000 event.
“That’s one of the best trouble shots I’ve ever hit,” Johnson said.
Grimes, who was part of the final pair with Johnson, stayed within striking distance most of the way. She moved to 4-under with a birdie on the ninth hole but fell back into a five-stroke deficit with a bogey on 12. By that time, Johnson was locked in and never really made the big mistake that would cost her more strokes.
Longtime Edwall, Washington, resident Wendy Ward made her LPGA Legends Tour debut in her home state. Ward is a native of Texas and played golf at Arizona State University, but she now spends her time teaching golf and raising cattle on her eastern Washington ranch.
Ward’s strength off the tee is still evident — she was easily one of the longest hitters in the 30-woman field — but she estimated that she had only played about 20 rounds of golf in 2018 and, because of that, a little rust showed in her short game. She turned 45 in May, making her eligible for the LPGA Legends Tour for the first time, and has spent a few years away from competitive golf.
“All my birdie opportunities, I just couldn’t give them enough speed,” Ward said. “I really feel like those were key putts to kind of take [my score] low today.”
Ward said she did not have particularly high expectations for her first event. She shot a 73 on Saturday and a 76 on Sunday to finish 5-over in 10th place. While she played well, for the most part, the highlight for Ward was reconnecting with former competitors from their days on the LPGA Tour.
“It is such a joy to walk the fairways, have conversations and reminisce about what’s happened in our lives since we were on the tour,” Ward said.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.