LPGA Golfer and Major Champion Shirley Englehorn

LPGA golfer Shirley Englehorn
Shirley Englehorn's brief but productive LPGA Tour career was marked by one comeback from physical trauma, then more physical trauma from which she couldn't come back. Her tour career was essentially over at age 30, when she was coming off her best season and seemingly poised for bigger things to come.

Date and place of birth: December 12, 1940, in Caldwell, Idaho

Nickname: Dimples

LPGA Wins by Shirley Englehorn

Englehorn won 11 tournaments on the LPGA Tour:
  • 1962 Eastern Open
  • 1962 Eugene Open
  • 1963 Lady Carling Eastern Open
  • 1964 Waterloo Women's Open Invitational
  • 1966 Babe Zaharias Open
  • 1967 Shirley Englehorn Invitational
  • 1968 Concord Open
  • 1970 Johnny Londoff Chevrolet Tournament
  • 1970 O'Sullivan Ladies Open
  • 1970 Lady Carling Open
  • 1970 LPGA Championship
Three of those wins (the one named after her plus the O'Sullivan Ladies and LPGA Championship) came in playoffs.

Shirley Englehorn Biography

Englehorn grew up in Idaho and won many amateur events in her home state and around the Pacific Northwest, including the Idaho Open from 1957-59, the 1959 Oregon Open and the Pacific Northwest Amateur in 1958.

She turned pro and joined the LPGA Tour in 1959. But in 1960, while in Augusta, Ga., to attend The Masters, Englehorn went horseback riding. She was thrown from the horse and suffered fractured vertebrae. That was, alas, only the first physical setback she would have to deal with.

But Englehorn returned and earned her first LPGA victory in the 1962 Carling Eastern Open. With two wins in 1962 and one each in 1963 and 1964, Englehorn appeared on her way to long LPGA career. Then the second interruption happened.

In 1965, Englehorn suffered injuries in an automobile accident and missed much of the season. (In 1969, after her comeback from that accident was clearly successful, she won the Ben Hogan Award, given by the Golf Writers Association of America in honor of golfers overcoming physical setbacks.)

Her first win after the return from injury was at the 1966 Babe Zaharias Open, then, in 1967, Englehorn achieved a rare distinction: She won a tournament named after herself, the Shirley Englehorn Invitational.

She played only a partial schedule in 1967-68. But 1970 was the best, but essentially last, year of Englehorn's LPGA career. That year she won four times (in four consecutive starts), culminating with her lone major championship victory at the LPGA Championship.

Englehorn had been suffering from problems with her ankles, lingering effects of the auto accident, and was in increasing pain when walking 54 or 72 holes of golf for a tournament.

In 1971, she underwent surgery that fused the bones in her ankles.

She entered no tournaments and was unable to walk 18 holes for almost a year. When Englehorn finally did return to tournament golf, it was for only cameo appearances. More surgery followed in 1973, and Englehorn, after 1970, never played more than eight tournaments in a season. Her last LPGA appearance was in 1979.

More Notes About Shirley Englehorn

She twice beat 88-time LPGA winner Kathy Whitworth in playoffs: First at the 1967 Shirley Englehorn Invitational (which seems appropriate, after all), and then in an 18-hole playoff (74 to 78) for the 1970 LPGA Championship. ... And Whitworth was runner-up to Englehorn in another of her victories, the 1966 Babe Zaharias Open. ... Englehorn lost two other tournaments in playoffs.

The Shirley Englehorn Invitational tournament took place three times, 1966-68, near her hometown of Caldwell, Idaho. It was an era when the tour often had self-named tournaments hosted by golfers in or near their hometowns, as a way of attracting fans.

Englehorn once teamed with Sam Snead to win a tournament. It was the mixed-team event Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome in 1964. The event was later better-known as the JCPenney Classic. ... She knew the other members of the era's "Big 3," too: Following her horseback accident at the 1960 Masters, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson visited her in the hospital.

Englehorn learned golf from two great teachers: first, Shirley Spork, one of the LPGA founders; then, Johnny Revolta, an 18-time PGA Tour winner. ... Englehorn herself went into teaching when her playing career ended. She was a teacher of the year for the LPGA's Teaching and Club Professional Division, and in 2015 was elected to the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame. ... She was one of three honorees at the LPGA's Founders Cup tournament in 2016.

In 1971, Englehorn, who had a Sears endorsement contract (the retailer sold Englehorn-branded golf sets), starred in a short film produced by Sears about the LPGA Tour of that era. The quality of the follow video is poor and there are some audio outages, but it is fascinating nonetheless:

My favorite part of the film is when Englehorn describes her pre-tournament nutritional routine: Every morning before a tournament round, she ate a hamburger and a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

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