RANCHO MIRAGE, California – “Do it! Do it!” fans screamed as a foursome of past champions huddled on the back of the 18th green. Jennifer Kupcho, the 2022 Chevron champion, was out of Poppie’s Pond and wrapped in a robe by this point.
And here they came, led by the ever-spunky Patty Sheehan, who at age 65 did a front flip into Poppie’s Pond that was downright legendary. France’s Patricia Meunier-Lebouc was carried into the pond by her husband when she won back in 2003. She called home to say she planned to jump in for the first time on her own two feet.
Sandra Palmer tripped before she got to the pond, a scary moment that she played off well, walking over to the side of the pool and wading in with a little shimmy. Palmer, 79, who is still a teaching pro here in the desert, won the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle in 1975 before it became a major.
Amy Alcott, the player who started this whole tradition in the first place, took her time at the water’s edge, lifting up a rose to the heavens in memory of her longtime caddie Bill Curry, who died last year. Alcott then put her hands above her head and dove headfirst into the pond.
“I can feel him all around here,” said Alcott, choking back tears.
This was the best part of the day. Patty Sheehan’s front flip is LEGENDARY. Sandra Palmer is OK! That’s her dancing after she fell. Amy Alcott w/ emotional tribute to her late caddie. Held a????to the sky and then dove in. Backstrokes for the finishing touch!
Farewell, Dinah! ???????? pic.twitter.com/x09A6bnkky
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) April 4, 2022
Sheehan didn’t dive into the murky water when she won here in 1996. It wasn’t clean like a swimming pool back then. But she did dive in when Rose Zhang won the ANA Junior Inspiration in 2018. Zhang felt awkward about the whole thing, said Sheehan.
“I said come on, go swimming with me,” said Sheehan, “so I did the backstroke there, too.”
Rumors began swirling earlier in the week that past champions might jump into Poppie’s Pond, but Sheehan said nothing was really solidified until Meunier-Lebouc said, “if you do, I do.”
Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon and Rosie Jones sat in the front row of the grandstands as the whole thing unfolded. All three finished runner-up at this event. An important chapter of LPGA history closed on Sunday and they weren’t going to miss it.
“We’ve got to embrace the future,” said Meunier-Lebouc, clutching a white towel after one final leap.
“That’s what we have to do.”
Photos: 2022 Chevron Championship at Mission Hills Country Club