It was 1990 when Jane Crafter was shooting for a $1 million annuity.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Jane Crafter's only victory on the LPGA tour came with a big-money bonus. But there was a catch.
Phar-Mor would award a $1 million annuity to any golfer who could win both of its tournaments in the same season.
So when Crafter won the Phar-Mor at Inverrary in February of 1990, she became eligible for the money. All she needed was a victory at The Phar-Mor in Youngstown five months later at Squaw Creek Country Club.
"That was a lot of fun, but it was a little overwhelming," said Crafter, 46, an Australian who resides in Wellington, Fla.
With Crafter coming off her first victory on tour, which earned her $60,000, the pressure was intense for her to match that same level of play at Squaw Creek -- and for $1 million.
"It was a very hectic week," she said. "I signed more autographs than I could have imagined. I felt like Nancy Lopez and Tiger Woods that week."
As the galleries grew and the pressure built, Crafter was left facing a circumstance like never before.
"It was quite an experience and I won't forget it," she said. "The people of Youngstown were incredibly supportive. The whole town got behind me -- and I managed to miss the cut. I think it was all a little too much for me."
Crafter said it was difficult to put the $1 million prize and its accompanying pressure out of her mind.
"When you've just won your first tournament for $60,000, the thought of a $1 million annuity is mind boggling," Crafter said. "I don't know that anyone could have coped with that sort of pressure. It was an unusual situation."
After a tie for 37th place last year at Squaw Creek, Crafter has returned this year with the hope of moving up the leaderboard, on a course that carries much meaning for her.
"I love this course. I think it's one of the best courses that we play all year," Crafter said. "It's in great condition and it's a lot of fun to play.
"The greens are quite demanding," she said. "You've got to put your ball in the right spot on the green."
Crafter injured her right ankle working out in the off-season and spent a few months rehabilitating. She recovered in time to start the season, with her best finish being a tie for third April 18-21 in the Longs Drugs Challenge.
"I started out the year slowly but got into some good form in Sacramento [in the Longs Drugs]," Crafter said.
"I got my third-place finish and was able to be exempt for the U.S. Open."
Crafter hadn't played in the U.S. Open since 1993, instead spending her time as a golf commentator on NBC.
She missed cuts at the U.S. Open and Jamie Farr Kroger Classic last week.
"I haven't played as well as I would have liked the last couple of weeks," Crafter said.
"I think the form is starting to come back.
"You go in and out of good form periodically, and you hope your slumps are only a few weeks, not a few months or a few years."
Crafter hasn't won an LPGA tournament since the 1990 Inverrary put her in position for the $1 million prize.
She has finished first at three tournaments in Australia.
"Things have to fall in the right manner for someone to win a tournament," Crafter said.
"It's not just what you do. It's what the other people around you do, as well."