San José State's Legendary Stamp On The U.S. Women's Open
June 16, 2016
The 70th edition of the United States Women's Open is making just its third trip to the Golden State this July 7-10, and CordeValle Golf Club will be the first-ever Bay Area host.
Zooming in, this year's Women's Open takes place in the backyard of San José State University and its women's golf program which has produced some of the sports greatest legends.
The three-time NCAA Division I national champion Spartans have produced 18 All-Americans, but San José State's footprint extends far beyond the collegiate level, putting its stamp on the U.S. Women's Open consistently throughout the last three decades.
Closest of friends and San José State teammates in 1980, Patty Sheehan and Juli Inkster gave us what most believe is the greatest showdown in professional women's golf history at the 1992 Women's Open.
Sheehan shot an even-par 72 and bested Inkster in the 18-hole playoff on Monday, following a gut-wrenching finish on the 72nd hole the day prior.
The victory spelled redemption for Sheehan, who two years earlier relinquished a 10-shot lead to Betsy King on a grueling 36-hole Sunday at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
It was the most bitter of defeats for Inkster - for the moment.
Nevertheless, the lasting memory of perhaps the most epic finish at a U.S. Women's Open is seeing two former San José State teammates embracing on the 18th green.
That wasn't the first stamp a Spartan put on a U.S. Women's Open, and it wouldn't be the last. Sheehan won it again two years later in 1994. Inkster went on to win it twice in the stage of her career which she describes as "the second act" - After having two daughters Hayley and Cori.
Inkster set the U.S. Women's Open record for score in relation to par when she posted a -16 at Old Waverly to win her first Women's Open in 1999. Her second U.S. Women's Open triumph in 2002 wasn't a record-setter, but it was certainly captivating.
It was a return to Prairie Dunes, the course in Kansas where Inkster won three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur titles. She had the crowd behind her as she took on the Swede Annika Sörenstam. The crowd roared for Inkster throughout the day, playing in the group ahead of Sörenstam.
Inkster finished with a final-round 66 (-4) to defeat Sörenstam who won 11 times on the LPGA tour that year. Juli was the only American to win a U.S. Women's Open between 1995 and 2002.
Pat Hurst, the 1989 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship medalist, left her mark on the U.S. Women's Open with three top-five results. She too had a run in with Sörenstam at the 2006 Open, ending in a runner-up finish after an 18-hole playoff.
Hurst finished tied for fourth in 1998 and tied for seventh in 2004.
Current San José State head coach John Dormann and his wife Dana Dormann, the associate head coach, have deep roots in the U.S. Women's Open.
Dana was a three-time All-American while playing at San José State (1985-88), and went on to compete in the U.S. Women's Open 14 times during her professional career. During a three-year stretch from 2005 through 2007 John was her caddie.
John, now in his ninth season as head coach, was no stranger to carrying the bag on the big stage. He was the caddie for Meg Mallon when she fired a final-round 67 to win the 1991 U.S. Women's Open at Colonial Country Club.
More Spartans who have left their mark on the U.S. Women's Open include: Former coach Betty Hicks (1975-77) who finished second twice, Janice Moodie (1994-97) with two top-20 finishes and Tracy Hanson (1990-93) who was the low-amatuer in 1991, and recorded an ace 12 years later at Pumpkin Ridge.
DON'T MISS THE 2016 U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
The 70th U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., runs July 7-10. Week-long and daily ticket packages are available now. Tickets for Wednesday's practice round are as low as $25. Purchase your tickets today at 2016uswomensopen.com or dial (669) 257-1062.