published Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Jamaican Lang big Honors fan

Jamaica native Diane Lang has one last dream before she dies -- to play golf in the 2016 Olympics.

But if she's going to go before that, The Honors Course would be a good place to do it.

"It's the nicest golf course I've ever played -- in America, Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii -- and I just love it," Lang said Saturday after her opening 79 in the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur at the Ooltewah course.

"If we are going to die, let it be a bolt of lightning here and we'll go happy," she said. "I was just mesmerized and in awe on every hole."

Lang won USGA senior championships in 2005, '08 and '09 -- a fine senior career for the former LPGA golfer.

She wants one more special memory and it has nothing to do with hoisting a trophy. She wants to represent Jamaica when golf reappears at the Olympics.

Lang wants to wear her native colors and parade around a track at the age of 61 in Rio de Janeiro.

"In 2016, even if I have a walker with me, [the Jamaican golf association] owes it to me to be on that circle with a flag," Lang said. "That would be the highlight of my life if I could participate in an Olympic games."

Lang already has been celebrated along with some of Jamica's most famous Olympic athletes. After she won her first U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, Lang flew back to Jamaica. She looked around on the bus ride from the hotel to the ceremony site and saw Olympic runners including eight-time medal winner Merlene Ottey.

"The girl I sat next to asked me, 'Whose mom are you?'" Lang said. "I said, 'I'm here because I play golf.'"

Lang, who reluctantly gave up her citizenship, returns to her native land only for vacation -- it's her husband's favorite spot. But she may fly back and meet with Olympic and golf officials.

"I need to kick somebody's [rear], because it has to be done," Lang said. "If Tom Watson can play at 61, I can do it."

Lang's round Saturday began 2 hours and 10 minutes later than originally scheduled because of heavy fog that delayed the start of competition. A handful of groups will finish the first round this morning.

Canadian Mary Ann Hayward completed a round of 2-under-par 70. Only Lisa Schlesinger of Maryland, who didn't finish, is better in relation to par at 3 under. Maggie Scott of Charleston, Tenn., is tied for 56th in relation to par with a full-round 80.

"It's the best ball-striking round I've ever had," said Hayward, who lost in the semifinals last year. "I missed one shot all day, a 3-wood I hit fat on No. 17."

Defending champion Mina Hardin of Fort Worth, Texas, opened with a smooth even-par 72 and positioned herself nicely to reach match play again. The low 64 after the second round today will move on.

"You dream about being able to come back and defend your title," Hardin said. "I really wanted to get into red numbers. I had a couple of 'oops' but kept my composure."

• At the men's Senior Amateur in Manakin-Sabot, Va., Chattanooga's Neil Spitalny is tied for 49th after a 3-over 75 in the first round of stroke play. Mark Bemowski of Wisconsin has a two-stroke lead at 68.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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