By Jeff Shain, Tribune Newspapers
11:55 PM EDT, July 6, 2011
Betsy King is having golf nightmares again, like the one in which a tree is hindering her backswing — on the first tee. Or where she's trying to hack out from a locker.
"That was the one thing nice about retirement," quipped the 55-year-old Hall of Famer, the oldest entrant at this week's U.S. Women's Open.
It has been 51/2 years since King last teed it up in an LPGA event, stepping aside after the 2005 season to tend to her ailing parents. Her exemption for winning the 1989 and '90 Opens ran out long ago.
She spends most of her days now with humanitarian efforts, taking groups to Africa to help build homes for orphans. So how did she end up at The Broadmoor?
King entered qualifying on a whim, thinking it would be good live fire for a Legends Tour event that followed.
After scores of 73-71 in Arizona, she had an unexpected ticket to the big stage.
"It's a perfect circle for me, because the first event I played as a professional was the '77 U.S. Women's Open," she said. King missed that cut at Hazeltine but quickly earned her LPGA card and went on to a 34-win career.
Nothing against Loch Lomond, which also generally gets a thumbs-up from tour pros. But as a British Open lead-in, an inland layout made little sense to guys who already don't get much experience on the wind-swept linksland.
"I'm here because it's on a links course," said two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington, who skipped Loch Lomond for 10 years. "Even though I grew up playing links golf, it's distinctly different getting used to it again."
Five of the world's top 10 are at Castle Stuart this week.
— Jeff Shain
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