“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.” — Sherlock Holmes
With all the hoopla around Tom Watson and his captaincy of the Ryder Cup, perhaps the focus should be on Nancy Lopez and her winning formula in the Handa Cup. The Handa Cup format entails an International team competition pitting 12 USA-born LPGA Legends against 12-internationally born LPGA Legends in 36 holes of team and singles matches over two days. Players engage in stroke play within each match and team points are awarded for wins and ties. Team U.S. defeated the World team, 28-20 in West Point, Mississippi the exact same weekend the Ryder Cup was being played in Scotland.
Similar to a plot twist in a Sherlock Holmes novel, we find that Mississippi and Boston are just one degree of separation from golf and glory. Perhaps like Kevin Bacon everyone and everything is just one degree of separation from Boston. Certainly Scotland, Mississippi, the Ryder Cup and the LPGA Legends Handa Cup felt this way. While Keegan Bradley, New England’s golfing son, was in Scotland playing his heart out in the Ryder Cup with his fellow Americans, his aunt, Pat Bradley, had an even larger task playing to beat the world in the Handa Cup an LPGA Legends event. The Handa Cup is an LPGA Legends match play event that pits the USA against the rest of the world, no easy task. Held this year at the Old Waverly Golf Course in West Point, Mississippi the event showcased not only the unbelievable talent of these LPGA Legends from around the globe but the incredible southern hospitality that truly should be bottled and sold as it is such a rare and special commodity found nowhere else in the world.
The teams read like a who’s who of woman’s golf. Team USA captioned by Nancy Lopez included; Elaine Crosby, Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel, Juli Inkster, Christa Johnson, Rosie Jones, Meg Mallon, Barb Mucha, Laurie Rinker, Nancy Scranton, Val Skinner, Sherri Steinhauer, Sherri Turner. Team World captioned by Sally Little included; Dawn Coe-Jones, Helen Alfredsson, Jane Crafter, Laura Davies, Alicia Dibos, Wendy Doolan, Trish Johnson, Lorie Kane, Jenny Lidback, Liselotte Neumann, Alison Nicholas, Mieko Nomura, Jan Stephenson.
While it was interesting enough to have Pat Bradley playing on U.S. soil looking to beat the best legends in the world while her nephew was in Scotland looking to do the same, both in real time on the exact same weekend. Pat Bradley originally from Westford, Massachusetts now resides in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. “After 30 years of living in Dallas I wanted to get back to my New England roots” says Bradley. As a twist of fate would have it, playing in the Handa Cup pro-am was Margaret Ferriss White the daughter of Boo Ferriss, Mississippi native and the famous Boston Red Sox pitcher that was part of the 1946 team that also included Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr and Dom DiMaggio. Boo Ferriss was a pitcher for Boston during the ’46 World Series and pitched a shutout in Game 4 and later became the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox before returning to Mississippi. In 2002 he was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. Now at 92 and a half, Boo had this to say about Boston: “We love the Boston area, and New England it is a great place to be. Fenway is number one there is no doubt about it and the fans are something else; they live and die for their Red Sox.” His favorite memories of his time in New England include fall foliage, the seafood, clams and lobster. What Boo Ferriss would like everyone to know about Mississippi; “the people are great, they are friendly, care about each other and stay close to one another. It is a great place to visit and people are always amazed by the history and the great Mississippi River.”
Perhaps it is the southern drawl and the way the “ya’ll” runs off the tongue, or the very gentile ways southerners have of speaking and conducting themselves, or the natural and gentle pace of life in the south that makes you want to listen a little more carefully and stay a little longer.