Sorenstam, Ebster share lead at weather-delayed U.S. Senior Women’s Open in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — If the name Dana Ebster doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry: you are not alone.

Ebster once was a star collegiate golfer at Southern Cal in the 1980s (“the late 1980s,” she said.). Ebster works at Turlock Golf and Country Club in Turlock, California where she is a teaching pro and started the junior golf program.

“Of course right before I came here I was out pulling carts at 6 a.m.,” Ebster said.

She is also the assistant golf coach at Modesto Junior College. Still doesn’t sound familiar?

People may begin to recognize Ebster’s name now: she is the first-round co-leader at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open being held at Brooklawn Country Club.

You might recognize the other co-leader: Annika Sorenstam.

Sorenstam and Ebster both shot 5-under-par 67 to lead the field by 2 shots in the weather-shortened opening round Thursday.

“OMG. That’s all I got to say. OMG,” Ebster said when asked what it was like to see her name right next to Sorenstam’s on the top of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open leaderboard.

Sorenstam birdied the final hole to get to- 5-under. This is the first U.S. Senior Women’s Open for Sorenstam, the World Golf Hall of Famer and the first USGA championship of any kind since 2008.

“I love this place. I love the golf course. You know, I was very happy how I played today,” Sorenstam said. “This course could be quite tricky around the greens. I realize I had a few kind of slippery ones, but it was nice to finish on a high note.”

Half the field was able to complete their opening round. The USGA suspended play at 3:53 p.m. due to lightning in the area. Play was called for the day shortly after 5 p.m. All golfers have completed at least seven holes.

The opening round will resume at 8 a.m. with the second round to immediately follow. The golfers who have yet to complete their first round have to turn around and go right back out for the second round.

So that means Sorenstam, Ebster and the rest who have completed round one won’t go out until later in the afternoon Friday.

Kris Tschetter is in third place after shooting a 3-under 69. Liselotte Neumann, who played with Sorenstam, shot 70 and is in fourth place.

“Obviously to get to play with Annika, it’s great to see her here, that she’s back out and supporting this event and supporting the legends. It’s really cool,” Neumann said.

There is currently a 13-way tie for fifth place at 1-under. More than half of them didn’t complete their first round.

Sorenstam has been the headliner for this event since the day she officially entered the championship on May 12. She was part of the USGA’s Media Day held at Brooklawn CC last month.

And now the golfer who drew the biggest gallery on Thursday will be everyone’s focus for sure even if she isn’t in front when she tees off Friday afternoon.

“I have been practicing, but it’s different to come out here and play, especially around the greens here. These greens I think are what really makes the golf course. Super happy with the way I hit it. I can be a little more aggressive on my putts,” Sorenstam said.

Sorenstam contended in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada a few weeks back.

Sorenstam said she asked Neumann the last time they played together. They estimated it’s been at least 15 years or so. Laura Davies, the 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Open champion, also played in the group, shooting 1-under 71.

“I love the pairing. Both are very nice and it brings back some great memories,” Sorenstam said. “That’s what I think this week is, it’s about seeing the same people and catching up and enjoying what we’re doing at a little later stage of our lives.”

Ebster survived a double bogey on the par-5 seventh hole and closed the round with birdies on 17 and 18 to get to 5-under. She doesn’t anticipate any changes now that she is being chased by every golfer except one.

“All my life, I’ve worked to play in a U.S. Open and a U.S. Senior Open, and I’m just enjoying the moment and enjoying my time,” Ebster said. And my friends came out to watch me and I’m so excited.”; @nhrJoe Morelli