Wie, Wie, Wie all the way home!

July 10, 2014

As a follow up to the men’s 2014 U.S. Open, played at Pinehurst No. 2 course, in Pinehurst, NC, I thought the ladies, who also played in their U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 (the following weekend), should receive their due respect.

First, I must again say I felt the same pain the men golfers felt the week before trying to hit out of the “native area,” which was usually a large sand wasteland with some dune grass, wild brush and an occasional flower.

The same fairways with large brown areas and turtleback greens were in play the entire weekend and separated the real pros from the wannabes.  It was refreshing to see Michelle Wie finally win her first major championship and take home a $720, 000 paycheck for four days of golf.

Wie finished with a 2 under score of 278, to push her total winnings for the year to over a million dollars, while the second place finisher, Stacy Lewis, shot even par for the tournament and took home $432,000 for her effort.

So with Michelle Wie pushing to be number one in the world, I thought I would also recognize some pretty good female golfers from the past, all of whom helped today’s golfers receive that big prize money.

In a May 200 issue of Golf Digest, a reader poll was taken to name the ten best golfers of all time, both men and women and coming in at number nine was Mickey Wright.

Mary Kathryn Wright, better known as “Mickey,” was a California native who joined the LPGA tour in 1955 at the age of 20. Her career spanned almost three decades, but due to recurring hand and foot injuries, her best decade of golf was from 1959-1968.

During that span of time, she won 79 tournaments and set a record for victories in a ten year stretch, which has not been challenged to date. In 2009, Golf Magazine again ranked her the eighth best golfer of all time and the best woman golfer of all time.

Kathrynne Ann “Kathy” Whitworth burst onto the ladies golf scene in 1962 with a four stroke win over Mickey Wright in the Kelly Girls Open and finished her career in 1985.

During her 23-year career, she recorded 88 tournament wins and became the first woman golfer to record career winnings of over a million dollars at the end of the 1981 tour season.

While she held the record of 88 U.S. wins until 2008 when Annika Sorenstam took over first place (overall) with 93 international wins, Whitworth won the LPGA tour four times. But her best U.S. Open finish was a second place in 1971.

Annika Sorenstam was an international superstar who started her career in 1992 and won her first of three U.S. Open Championships in 1995, again in 1996 and her last win in 2006.

Among her other major accomplishments was a win in the 2003 Women’s British Open, followed by three successive years (2003, 2004, 2005) winning the LPGA title.

When she ended her career in 2008, she had earned over 17 million dollars from LPGA tournament play alone. Today, she is a mother of two children and a part-time golf announcer for high-profile tournaments.

Honorable Mention:  Babe Zaharias was one of the best female golfers to play for fame and not much money. She turned pro in 1948 at the age of 34 and died of cancer in 1956. During her eight-year career, she won 41 tournaments, including 10 majors.

Overall, Babe won 55 amateur and professional golf tournaments, including the 1947 British Women’s Open. In 2000, Golf Digest ranked her at number 17 overall, as the best female or male golfer of all time.

19th hole trivia

• In 2001, Annika Sorenstam became the first and only golfer to date, to score a 59 in LPGA play.

•  Sorenstam was named LPGA player of the year eight time.

•  Babe Zaharias won the US Women’s Open three times (1948, 1950, and 1954).

• Zaharias finished ahead of Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller and Greg Norman in the Golf Digest rankings.

•  Michelle Wie has the skill to become one of the best all-time, only time will tell.