Joan Pitcock was grim walking to the final green Friday. “Train wreck” is how she described her second round in the Marathon Classic. So she missed the cut, and a scribe who was around when she won the Jamie Farr Classic in 1996 asked where she was heading next.
“Home,” she said.
“Have a safe trip,” he offered.
“Well, thanks, but it’s only like five miles,” Pitcock countered.
You learn something every day, right? And Friday’s news was that Joan Pitcock is one of us now. She bought a home in Stone Oak. Of all the places in all of the world, Pitcock decided to become a Toledo-area resident.
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And if the Legends Tour, the ladies’ version of senior golf, doesn’t work out for Pitcock, her next job should be as president of our Chamber of Commerce.
She thinks more of us than many of us think about ourselves.
We’ll get back to that.
There are five Farr champions who won their first, last, and therefore only LPGA title in our tournament. I would suggest that it meant more to Joan Pitcock than any of them. After all, she had played in 224 previous events in nine-plus seasons before finally finding the winner’s circle.
“I remember every shot I hit in the last round when I won here,” Pitcock said.
That included a 20-foot putt on the final hole that she cozied to within two inches of the cup. As she walked up for the tap-in she stared at the leaderboard.
“I was trying to process all the numbers,” she said. “All of a sudden I stopped in my tracks and said, ‘I think I won.’ I was stunned.”
That was 1996. In 2004, when Pitcock knew she was done, when the body no longer paid any attention to the mind, it was not coincidence that the Farr Classic was her final LPGA event. It stayed that way for 10 years.
“I knew that was it,” she said. “I was 37 and probably had the body of a 70-year-old. There are years when the physical aspect keeps up with the mental. You look at the best players, and that’s when they run the table. But it was very difficult for me when my body wasn’t keeping up with where I was mentally. I’d had enough.”
Pitcock has spent the last 10 years as a teaching professional, playing in exhibitions and pro-am events, but not seriously competing with the exception of scattered Legends Tour events.
Then, out of the blue, she showed up at Highland Meadows for the Marathon Classic.
“I’m getting ready for a senior event in August, so since I’m here now I thought I’d enter the [Monday] qualifier and compete a little. I didn’t really expect to get in the tournament,” she said.
The Marathon, however, had a numbers problem. Coming after the Women’s British Open, a number of foreign players opted not to play. The alternate list came into play, and based on her ex-champion status and her spot on the career money list, Pitcock was in.
She was pretty happy with an opening-round, 1-over 72 but ran out of gas on Friday and carded a 78. She hit a 5-iron to her final hole, No. 9, saying she was tired of coming up short all day. This one skittered across the green like it was shot out of a BB gun and left her with an uphill chip to a tight pin location on a downhill green.
It wasn’t easy. She wasn’t happy. But she stepped up and hit a deft chip as well or better than anybody in the field might have done, made the putt for a nice par save, and said she was heading home. At least it’s a short trip.
Pitcock sold her home in California about a year ago and spent some time living with her mom, who was ailing. Then …
“I had to buy somewhere,” she said. “I figured I love Toledo, so why not? I’ve made some good friends here through the years. One of them, Rita Mansour, lives here and is sort of my manager of record. I found a nice place at Stone Oak, and it’s sort of ironic because my rookie year, when I played in the Jamie Farr the first time, that [then Glengarry Country Club] is where we played.
“But the community is what really sold me. The way people support the Arts Commission and things like Chicks for Charity and the Komen Foundation and so many others. I said hello to a tournament volunteer in the parking lot this morning, and he said he’d been doing it for 25 years. There are lots of people like that.
“People aren’t afraid to work and put time in for a cause. And they get great results. They stage events, and everybody comes together to make a difference. In a lot of cities the same size that’s not the case. There’s so much to do.
“So this is home now. I love it and I’ll spend a lot of time here. It may not be full-time 12 months a year. I mean, I’ve seen your winters.”
Pitcock will have to learn to like them, too, if she wants that Chamber of Commerce job.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.