Livingston reclaims Ladies Open after 13 years

Heading into the annual Kitchen Creek Ladies Open, Carol Livingston had very little confidence in her game.
It took a successful practice round of golf with two-time defending champion Christin Thomson on Thursday to convince her to go ahead and register.
“I told Chrissy somewhere on the front nine [on Thursday] that I was thinking of not entering in the tournament and she said I should,” recalled the 58-year old Livingston. “After I saw my even par score [on the back nine] I said, ‘Geez maybe I should go in.’”
Little did they know they would be standing off at the #10 and #9 holes in a playoff for the championship 48 hours later–this time not sharing one word. Livingston went on to upset Thomson to claim her first Open win since 1988.
After each parring the first playoff hole #10, Thomson knew the par-four #9 was a bad play from the start, sailing her second shot into the creek to take a penalty stroke. Livingston hooked her tee towards the left side of the hole and placed her ball outside the greens on her third shot.
Thomson hit a smooth fourth shot to land the greens, leaving her a double bogey to Livingston’s bogey–and relinquished her run as champion.
“I made a mistake right off the tee. I should have taken one more club to put me near the bottom of the hill,” said Thomson of her choice to use a seven-iron. “I gave myself a downhill lie and a difficult shot. I just hit a bad shot.”
Wheeling her clubs back into the clubhouse, Livingston rolled her eyes, clapped her chest to feign a beating heart, and let out a happy sigh of relief afterwards.
“I didn’t get a really good drive [on #10]. I was a little on a downhill. Under the nerve conditions, which really can effect me, I put a good one on the greens and I didn’t choke on my putts,” she said. “It was nice we were able to fluff the ball up today, move it onto some nice grass.”
She added Thomson, the 18 year-old provincial representative and four-time junior national competitor, could have easily won her third title.
“In any given day, I could have lost it. Chrissy’s such a great player, she could have made that second shot,” said Livingston. “She’s a young gal with a lot of skill and she flubbed the shot somehow and paid for it.”
Both golfers scored a 10-over 84 after 18 holes to warrant the sudden death. Thomson had the lead over the first flight with a three-over 40 on the front nine but shot six over for the last five holes, including a quadruple bogey on #16, to Livingston’s four over during the same stretch.
Her only birdie of the day came on #12.
“I’m not disappointed that I lost, it’s just the way that I lost. All day I just made mental mistakes,” said Thomson. “If you go out and play well and lose you can accept it but I pretty much beat myself today.”
And as happy with the win as she was, Livingston said not to expect her to give young Thomson this kind of run every year.
“If I had 40 less years, maybe I could make a good rivalry,” said Livingston, 58. “But you know, I try to hold my own. You have to play your own game and not worry what people are doing.”
Livingston played for the Manitoba national team in 1997, the first-ever Kitchen Creek golfer to earn that right. She has come very close since her last win only to be continuously upended by Minnesota rival Joan Richard-son. Her other closest finish was a playoff loss to Eadie Stevenson in 1997.
“I’ve come second quite a few times that I don’t even remember how many,” she said. “Talk about your bridesmaid.”
Meanwhile, Thomson’s quest for a third straight title was much more difficult than her previous wins in 1999 (being the youngest Ladies Open champion at 16) and 2000 when she held four and three shot advantages. She admitted while it was her first playoff on her home golf course, she wasn’t rattled.
“I’ve had plenty of playoff experience in other tournaments and match play events,” said Thom-son.
“This was my first one here but I didn’t feel that much pressure,” she added.
Thomson left town that night to compete in this week’s American Junior Golf Association’s “Future-links” leg in Whistler, B.C.