How does one define what a ‘great’ player truly is? Is it her impressive list of personal achievements, or her impact in helping to influence and grow the women’s game? On Monday the 28th of October, I left that very question open to your interpretation. On Twitter, I asked you to identify your top ten greatest female golfers of all-time.
The results were varied and fascinating, with a number of factors, including age and nationality, obviously influencing some suggestions. However, that’s exactly what we want to see, and it has provided us with a very well balanced overall list. Now, there is little point in me whittling on any longer – here are the ten women you selected as being the greatest female golfers of all-time.
10. Se Ri Pak
These days, players from South Korea dominate the women’s game. Most would contest that transition arguably began with Se Ri-Pak’s emergence in the late 1990s. After turning professional in 1996, Se Ri would win two major championships in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour in 1998 – becoming the youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Open. Since then, she has gone on to win 21 more times on the LPGA, including three further major championships. He list of accomplishments saw her elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame at the age of 29 in 2007.
9. Patty Berg
After an impressive amateur career in the 1930s, Patty Berg would turn professional in 1940. Her astonishing career would bring with it 15 major championships, in addition to a total of 60 victories on the LPGA Tour. In 1948, she helped established the Tour, and would become its first President. Berg also estimated that she taught over 16,000 golf clinics, introducing hundreds of thousands of new players to the game.
8. Karrie Webb
Turning professional in 1994, this likeable Australian would more than match the equivalent success of Tiger Woods around the millennium. Between 1999 and 2002, Webb would win six major championships and a total of 17 titles on the LPGA Tour. After a few lean years, Webb won the Kraft Nabisco for a second time in 2006 to claim a seventh major championship. She has enjoyed a resurgence in form this season, and finds herself inside the top ten of the world rankings at the age of 38. There is perhaps more to come in what has been a remarkable career.
7. Juli Inkster
Few players in the modern era have enjoyed greater longevity than Juli Inkster. Turning professional in 1983, she would claim two major championships in her first full season on the LPGA Tour in 1984. In over 20 years, she won 31 times on the Tour, in addition to seven major championships. She also holds the distinction of being the most successful American player in the Solheim Cup, becoming the oldest competitor in the event’s history in 2011.
6. Lorena Ochoa
In what was a short career, this charismatic Mexican made an indelible impression. Turning professional in 2002, Ochoa would go onto win 27 times on the LPGA Tour, including two major championships, before her retirement in 2010. In 2007, she would become the first female player to win over $4 million in a season, courtesy of eight Tour wins; including the 2007 Women’s British Open at St. Andrews. Three years ago, Ochoa decided to begin another chapter to her life, and continues to use her status generously by creating the Lorena Ochoa Foundation, which runs a school for underprivileged children in her hometown of Guadalajara.
5. Nancy Lopez
After finishing second in the 1975 U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 18, Lopez turned professional in 1977, and would remarkably win nine events in her rookie season in 1978. During this year, she would appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, in addition to winning the Tour’s Rookie and Player of the Year awards. Lopez would win the LPGA Championship three times, but success in the other majors would elude her, with seven runner-up finishes. In a 25-year career, she would win 48 LPGA Tour titles, while also representing the United States in the inaugural Solheim Cup in 1990.
4. Mickey Wright
This tall Californian, with a swing admired by Ben Hogan, joined the LPGA Tour in 1955, and would enjoy meteoric success over her 15-year career. She would win an incredible 82 LPGA Tour events, placing second on the all-time list, and 13 major championships. She would become the only player in history to hold all four titles at the same time. She would retire from full-time golf at the age of 34, but her legacy remains strong, with Golf Digest and Golf Magazine both ranking her as the best female player in history.
3. Kathy Whitworth
Joining the LPGA in the December of 1958, Whitworth would enjoy one of the greatest careers in history. Winning 88 times over a 23-year period, Whitworth has won more LPGA Tour titles than any other player. She claimed six major championships, but would utterly dominate the circuit from the late 60s to the early 70s with seven Player of the Year titles in eight years. During that period, she won an astonishing 69 LPGA titles in eight years.
2. Mildred “Babe” Zaharias
An exceptional sportswoman, who excelled at basketball and athletics, Zaharias would join the LPGA Tour in its inaugural season in 1950. After turning to golf at the age of 24, and would become America’s first female golf celebrity in the 1940s. Enormously popular with the galleries, Zaharias would win 41 times on the LPGA Tour, including ten major championships, before her life was tragically cut short at the age of 45 after she succumbed to colon cancer in 1956. Regarded by many publications as the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, Zaharias became an important role model for woman of the time, and her legacy continues to live on.
1. Annika Sorenstam
Turning professional in 1992, this talented Swede would set some of the highest standards in the history of the women’s game. Winning 72 LPGA Tour events in 13 years, Sorenstam would win a record eight Player of the Year awards, as she progressed through a 16 year career that yielded ten major championship victories. Claiming a record 93 professional titles, Sorenstam would also be a stalwart of the European Solheim Cup team, before her retirement in 2008 at the age of 38. Shooting a round of 59 in 2001, Sorenstam also set numerous scoring records on the LPGA Tour, including winning the Vale Award on six occasions. By a distance the best player of her era, Sorenstam was clearly selected by you as being the greatest female golfer of all-time.