Thirty years after Marlene Davis qualified for her first U.S. Women's Open Championship in 1988, she’ll be making her way back to the big dance, this time in the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open.
The Williamsville resident and local teaching pro finished fourth and won a sudden-death playoff at the qualifying tournament Monday at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, to earn her spot. The Open is July 12-15 at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill.
“It’s awesome,” Davis said. “There aren’t that many opportunities for me to play in professional tournaments so when I heard this tournament was available to play in for the first time I signed right up. I was really happy.”
Davis finished with a score of 3-over 75, four strokes behind the champion Martha Leach, and then clinched the fourth qualifying position on the first playoff hole.
There were 27 women competing in this qualifier, which was one of 17 used to determine the field for the U.S. Senior Women's Open. The inaugural tournament will feature 61 exempt players, 16 of which have won a U.S. Women’s Open. Players must be at least 51 years old and have a handicap index that does not exceed 7.4 in order to qualify.
For Davis, this accomplishment is just another notch on a long list of accolades. She's been involved in the game since she was a little girl, as her father was an instructor and coach at Walden Golf Range in Lancaster. She competed in her first tournament when she was 9 years old and played for St. Mary's High School, where she was not only the leading scorer but also the only woman on the team. Davis played college golf for the University of South Florida and was an assistant coach at Medaille College from 2006-2014.
Davis played in the U.S. Open in 1988 and 1989 and the LPGA Championship in 1988. She now is a busy teacher and serves as the lead instructor at the Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome and Brighton Park Driving Range in Tonawanda.
Davis will also be competing in the Senior LPGA Championship in French Lick, Ind., in October.
“I have a very full teaching schedule so any time I get opportunities to play I will continue practicing and honing my game for the big tournament,” she said. “It’s fun that I get to play in two senior major tournaments in one year. It’s just really exciting.”