Three-time U.S. Open champ Susie Maxwell Berning, pioneer Marion Hollins inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame

Susie Maxwell Berning speaks during the 2022 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction.
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Three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Susie Maxwell Berning likely never imagined her name being said in the same breath as “Tiger Woods,” but that’s exactly what happened Wednesday evening when the two shared the stage as inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Maxwell Berning, Woods, Marion Hollins (posthumously) and retired PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem were among the Class of 2022 HOF inductees honored Wednesday at Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which plays host to this week’s The Players Championship – considered the “fifth major” in men’s golf.

“Tiger, I know it’s hard for you to believe, but as young as I am, I won all of my tournaments before you were born,” said 80-year-old Maxwell Berning, earning big laughs during her induction speech. “And by the way, Tiger, my three U.S. Opens – the total winnings was $16,000. I was wondering if you’d like to swap checks? Perhaps, if not all, we could do one?”

Among Maxwell Berning’s career achievements are four major championships and 11 career LPGA titles – four of which came after giving birth to her first child in 1970. The mother of two daughters, Robin and Cindy, recalled having to withdraw once from an event because she couldn’t find childcare.

“I withdrew from a tournament in San Diego because I couldn’t find a babysitter,” Maxwell Berning recently told Golfweek, noting that she began playing the LPGA part-time after 1977 once her eldest daughter reached school age.

Her golf career actually started by accident. As a young teen in Oklahoma City, she was walking her 9-month-old colt, Joker, around a bridal path and the horse bolted across the nearby Lincoln Park Golf Course. When maintenance workers threatened to call the cops on the 13-year-old, Maxwell Berning says she struck a deal with the club’s the head pro, U.C. Ferguson, agreeing to teach his two young children to ride in exchange for letting the incident go.

She picked up Ferguson’s kids every Saturday for riding lessons, but one day the pro suggested she tie up her horse and head to the range where none other than Patty Berg, founding member and first president of the LPGA, was giving a raucous clinic.

A 14-and-a-half-year-old Maxwell Berning was hooked. “They were having so much fun,” she recalled of that fateful day.

Less than two years later, the 16-year-old sold her two horses for $150 and bought a car so she could drive to the golf course.

Maxwell Berning won the Oklahoma City Women’s Amateur three times and became the first woman to earn a golf scholarship at Oklahoma City University, where she played on the men’s team.

“I played under ‘Sam Maxwell’ during my college days,” she told Golfweek, explaining the moniker was given to her when an opposing coach asked about the player listed on the roster as “S. Maxwell.”

“Is it Steve or Sam?” he asked, to which her coach, Abe Lemons, replied: “Sam will do.”

She turned pro in 1964, winning $450 in her first LPGA event – the Muskogee Civitan Open – on home soil in Oklahoma and earning LPGA Rookie of the Year honors. Maxwell Berning captured her first major at the 1965 Women’s Western Open with her three U.S. Women’s Open titles following in 1968, 1972 and 1973.

She remains one of only six women to have won the U.S. Open three times and one of just 12 players (man or woman) to win three or more of the coveted titles along with Mickey Wright (4), Jack Nicklaus (4), Betsy Rawls (4), Ben Hogan (4), Willie Anderson (4), Bobby Jones (4), Babe Zaharias (3), Tiger Woods (3), Annika Sorenstam (3), Hollis Stacy (3) and Hale Irwin (3).

Marion Hollis, suffragette and U.S. Amateur champion, changed golf’s landscape

Also joining the WGHOF Class of ’22 is Marion Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, the first U.S. Curtis Cup captain and the first woman to develop golf courses, who was recognized posthumously.

Hollins, who was born in 1892 and grew up on a 600-acre farm in Long Island, N.Y., was the daughter of Harry B. Hollins, an investment banker and advisor to financier J.P. Morgan. She raced cars, held the distinction of being the only woman in the U.S. with a men’s polo handicap and was an accomplished equestrienne, driving four-in-hand horse carriages – including driving a team from Buffalo to Manhattan to sell war bonds in World War I.

Hollins marched with Suffragettes in New York City, and it was her equality-driven spirit that led her to establish the Women’s National Golf & Tennis Club on Long Island in the 1920s. When the male members of The Creek Club decided to disallow women golfers, she was part of a group of local women who purchased 176 acres and created the all-women club that lasted 18 years.

Her golf career included numerous amateur titles including the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and as the playing captain of the U.S. team at the inaugural Curtis Cup matches, where the U.S. defeated England, 5 1/2 to 3 1/2. She later shifted her attention within the sport, becoming a golf course architect, developer of the first planned golf community and an investor, contributing to the development of California’s Monterey Peninsula into a golf mecca.

Hollis is known for making significant contributions to Cypress Point Club and in particular its iconic 16th hole – a fierce par-3 that sits along the coastal cliff and features a 200-yard carry over the ocean. Insisting that the carry would be impossible, famed architects Seth Raynor and Alister MacKenzie (who went on to design Augusta National Golf Club) dismissed the notion of constructing a hole there.

But Hollins insisted it could be done, and legend has it, she teed up a ball and landed it precisely where she envisioned placing the green. Then she did it twice more.

“To give honor where it is due,” MacKenzie wrote in The Spirit of St. Andrews. “I must say that, except, for minor details in construction, I was in no way responsible for the hole. It was largely due to the vision of Miss Marion Hollins.”

“Not only did she establish a thrilling golf course there, but she assembled a club membership befitting that location – one that included both men and women from the very beginning,” said Dick Barrett, president of Cypress Point Club, who presented Hollis at the induction ceremony.

Hollins also established the Pebble Beach Golf Championship for Women, which she won seven times. The competition is credited with convincing the United States Golf Association to hold its amateur championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links in September 1929, which drew Bobby Jones as an entrant.

Jones lost in the first round of that event and headed over to the opening of a new golf course community founded by Hollins, Pasatiempo Golf Club and Estates. Hollins’ relationship with Jones became key to developing Augusta National, including Jones’ selection of MacKenzie as co-designer and using Pasatiempo as a blueprint for development.

Hollins, who turned a $100,000 investment in a “dry” California oil field into a $10 million windfall, lost her fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. In 1937, Hollins was driving home after visiting a friend in the hospital when a drunken driver collided with her car. She suffered head injuries that hampered her activity but she won one more Pebble Beach title in 1941. She passed away in 1944 at age 51.

With the addition of Berning and Hollins, 41 women have been inducted into the WGHO, with the last being legendary golf instructor Peggy Kirk Bell (lifetime achievement category) and three-time major champion Jan Stephenson (competitor category) in 2019.

Additionally on Wednesday, the WGHOF recognized Renee Powell, 75, with the Charlie Sifford Award for advancing diversity in golf. Powell is the second Black woman to play on the LPGA Tour (1967-80). Since 1995, Powell has served as the head PGA/LPGA professional at Ohio’s Clearview Golf Club, which her father – William Powell – established in 1946 as the first U.S. golf course designed, built, owned and operated by a Black man.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Paralympian Oksana Masters adds to medal haul while first-timer Sydney Peterson goes 2-for-2

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.


USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders(7):

  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”