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Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


The woman
on the poster
is no poser


PEOPLE still stop her in airports to talk about The Poster. They all remember it. A few still have it.

You really can't blame the guys.

Jan Stephenson was Anna before Anna, but good.

Anna Kournikova. Ha. Stephenson had that market cornered, and three LPGA majors, too. She invented that stuff, and won 16 times on tour to boot.

She posed soaking in a bathtub of golf balls, sometimes signing autographs, "Want to play a round?" She recreated Marilyn Monroe's most famous pose (no, the other one).

She has eight holes-in-one.

Anna.

Ha.

Stephenson is 51 now, still blond, still beautiful, still hitting them straight and true. She warmed up in the North Shore sunshine yesterday, in town to test drive the course before taking on the Champions Tour guys in next month's Turtle Bay Championship.

She's a poster girl again, this time to champion the LPGA's version of its senior tour.

Once again she's doing her part to drum up publicity for women's golf. A good showing at Turtle Bay could give the Women's Senior Golf Tour some much needed momentum. Stephenson was hand-picked by the LPGA to "take one for the team."

"All my friends call me and say, 'You're going to have to do a Suzy,' 'You're going to have to do an Annika.' 'Even if you're not having a good round, you're going to have to look like you're having a good time,' " Stephenson said.

But it's not the first time Stephenson has been the face (or body bathing in golf balls) of women's golf. She's always been one step ahead in the game outside the game ("everything," she said yesterday, "is sold on sex appeal").

And no, she, who was Anna before Anna (but good) does not decry the return of the sports pinup girl.

"Oh, no," she said. "It can't hurt. Someone like Anna Kournikova is still a fantastic athlete. For people to say she should quit because she hasn't won a tournament -- that's ridiculous.

"I mean, look at (golfer) Natalie Gulbis. Someone who can be in the top 100 in any sport in the world is a fantastic athlete. And even if she doesn't win. She brings so much to the sport. She's beautiful, she's fun, she's eager to play, she hits the ball a mile. And those things are great for the game."

Amateurs. Stephenson won, too, to go along with that. And she designs golf courses now. She was named one of the LPGA's top 50 players and teachers. She was named one of GOLF Magazine's "100 Heroes."

And Jan Stephenson tells tales of pulling a "Tin Cup" at a water hazard in Japan, of John Daly teeing off with his putter. Of searching for Karrie Webb's lucky ball-marker in a parking lot as the day grew late.

Now she's asked to promote a tour again, carry the load. Now, 20 years later, she is still taken seriously as an LPGA all-time great.

Yeah, they still talk about The Poster, but she's a player, too.

Now Stephenson is a poster girl again. Still the best at it. The rest are all amateurs, compared to her.



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

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