Shelley Hamlin, LPGA Winner, Cancer Warrior

Shelley Hamlin won several tournaments in her LPGA career, which stretched from the 1970s into the 1990s. And twice she won tournaments shortly after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

Full name: Shelley Lee Hamlin

Date of birth: May 28, 1949

Place of birth: San Mateo, California

Date and place of death: October 15, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona

Pro Tour Wins By Shelley Hamlin

Hamlin won three LPGA Tour tournaments:
  • 1978 Patty Berg Classic
  • 1992 The Phar-Mor at Inverrary
  • 1993 ShopRite LPGA Classic
In addition, Hamlin had one win on the LPGA of Japan tour (1975 Japan Classic) and one win on the LPGA senior tour.

In the Majors

Hamlin never won an LPGA major, but she had Top 10 finishes in two of them, the U.S. Women's Open and the du Maurier Classic. She finished fifth at the du Maurier in 1992. Her closest call was the 1973 U.S. Women's Open, in which she finished second, albeit five strokes behind the winner Susie Berning.

Shelley Hamlin Biography

Hamlin was a major player in California amateur golf in the late 1960s, starting with taking medalist honors at the 1965 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 1966 U.S. Women’s Amateur. She won the California Women's Amateur four consecutive years, 1967 through 1970. In the midst of that stretch, Hamlin was runner-up to Catherine Lacoste at the 1969 U.S. Women's Amateur, falling 3 and 2 in the championship match.

She also played for Team USA in the 1968 and 1970 Curtis Cups, and in the 1966 and 1968 Espirito Santo Trophy tournaments, on the winning side all four times.

Hamlin played college golf at Stanford, where her amateur career culminated in winning the 1971 AIAW National Collegiate Championship. She graduated in 1971 with a B.A. in political science. (Hamlin was later inducted into the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.)

Hamlin turned pro in 1972 and joined the LPGA Tour. She was never one of the top players on tour, but had a steady career that kept her playing full-time into the late 1990s.

Her first pro win was in Japan in 1975, but her first LPGA victory was in 1978, when she beat Kathy Whitworth by one stroke at the Patty Berg Classic.

Hamlin also became involved in tour management, serving as player president of the LPGA Tour in 1980-81.

In July of 1991, Hamlin received her first diagnosis of breast cancer. She underwent a radical mastectomy. But just seven months later, Hamlin won her second LPGA title, shooting 66 in the final round to beat a trio that include JoAnne Carner by one stroke at the 1992 Phar-Mor at Inverrary.

That second win happened 13 years, five months and 13 days after her first back in 1978. At that time, it was the LPGA's all-time record for longest gap between wins by any golfer.

Hamlin earned the last of her three LPGA victories the next year, the runners-up this time including Beth Daniel. That means that in all three of her wins, Hamlin's runners-up included future Hall of Famers.

In 1992, the LPGA awarded Hamlin its William and Mousie Powell Award, "for behavior and deeds that best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA." And in 1995, she received the LPGA Heather Farr Player Award "for her hard work, dedication and love of the game of golf, with demonstrated determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals as a player."

Hamlin stopped playing the LPGA full-time after 1997 and last appeared in an LPGA tournament in 2004. She had eight career top ten finishes and career earnings of just over one million dollars. (At the end of 1988, with just under $500,000 at that point, she ranked in the top 50 of the LPGA all-time money list.)

In 2000, Hamlin joined other former LPGA tour pros as a co-founder of the Legends Tour, the LPGA equivalent of the Champions Tour. In her time playing that tour, she posted six top ten finishes and won the 2002 Fidelity Investments Classic.

The Legends Tour includes a division for 63-and-over golfers, and once Hamlin hit that age she won two titles in that Honors Division.

In 2017, however, her cancer returned. Once again, she responded by winning: Her final victory was in the Legends Tour Honors Division at the 2017 Walgreens Charity Championship, where she beat Jan Stephenson in a playoff.

This time, she was unable to fight back the cancer. She died little more than a year after that final win. On October 11, 2018, four days before her death, Hamlin was enshrined in the Legends Tour Hall of Fame.

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