Mary Mills, 3-Time LPGA Major Winner

Mary Mills had a lengthy, solid career as a golfer on the LPGA Tour, interspersed with moments of great accomplishment: She won three major championships, including a U.S. Women's Open. In her prime, she was considered an excellent player tee-to-green, and one of the best on tour with her wedges.

Date of birth: Jan. 19, 1940

Place of birth: Laurel, Mississippi

Mills' 3 Major Championship Wins

Mary Mills won three LPGA majors: the 1963 U.S. Women's Open, the 1964 LPGA Championship and the 1973 LPGA Championship.

The U.S. Women's Open in 1963 was her biggest win, and it came in just her second year on tour. Mills took the lead after the second round and didn't give it up, finishing at 3-under — the only player to finish the tournament under par. Only 23 years old at the time, she beat the runners-up, future Hall of Famers Louise Suggs and Sandra Haynie, by three strokes.

"To win takes character, courage, tenacity and some grit." — Mary Mills

A year later, Mills was very impressive in winning the 1964 LPGA Championship (the tournament now named the Women's PGA Championship). She shot under 70 in three of the four rounds, including a final-round 69 that propelled her past third-round leader Mickey Wright. Mills ended up winning by two over Wright. Her 278 established a tournament scoring record that stood until 1978.

The last of her three majors was the 1973 LPGA Championship. One stroke behind the third-round co-leaders (who included Kathy Whitworth), Mills shot 70 in the final round to win by one stroke.

List of Her LPGA Tour Victories

Mary Mills is credited with nine wins on the LPGA Tour: Her 1970 victory in the Buick Open was via playoff against Sandra Haynie and tennis legend Althea Gibson.

Mary Mills Biography

Mills began playing golf at age 11 and her instructor was Johnny Revolta, an 18-time PGA Tour winner and 1935 PGA Championship winner. And those lessons paid dividents quickly: Beginning in 1954, when she was 14, Mills reeled off eight consecutive wins in the Mississippi State Amateur.

In those years she also won the Gulf Coast Amateur twice, and was medalist in the 1956 U.S. Girls' Junior.

Mills attended Millsaps College (she was a philosophy major) in Mississippi where she was the No. 1 golfer — on the men's team (there was no women's team) — all four years.

She turned pro and joined the LPGA Tour in 1962, where her highlights included a tie for 10th place at the U.S. Women's Open. She finished 11th on the money list and was named Rookie of the Year: the very first Rookie of the Year Award ever presented by the LPGA.

Mills posted multiple wins in three different seasons on tour, and was in the Top 10 on the money list five times, with a high finish of sixth in 1973. She was also seventh on the money list in 1965, ninth in 1964, and finished outside the Top 20 only once from 1962 to 1975.

She was a big-enough star in the mid-1960s, and a big-enough name in her native Mississippi, that in 1963 and 1964 the LPGA schedule included the Mary Mills Mississippi Gulf Coast Invitational. (It was won by Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright.)

"It's not whether you're going to get into trouble, it's when. (Golf) takes into consideration the whole human spectrum." — Mary Mills

In addition to her three major championship wins, Mills had multiple other Top 10 finishes in majors. Those included finishing in the Top 10 in the U.S. Women's Open in 1962, fourth in 1965, eighth in 1966, eighth in 1969, and sixth in 1973.

In the LPGA Championship, aside from her two wins, she was second, two strokes behind Mickey Wright, in 1963, seventh in 1965, third in 1966 and sixth in 1974. Mills also did well in two defunct LPGA majors, finishing fourth in the 1965 Women's Western Open and runner-up in the 1966 Titleholders.

In seven of Mills' nine LPGA wins, a future Hall of Famer (or more than one) was the runner-up.

By the early 1970s, Mills had started having hand and wrist issues, but surgery in 1972 helped her have her last big year in 1973. She had two wins that year (one of which was her final major), plus lost in a playoff to Kathy Whitworth at the Dallas Civitan Open. That was one of two runner-up showings Mills had to Whitworth in 1973. She had 15 Top 10 finishes that year, and at the end of that seasons Mills ranked No. 13 on the LPGA's all-time money list.

While Mills didn't win again after 1973, she continued to challenge during most of the remaining years of the 1970s. But by 1979 she was no longer posting top 10 finishes as those hand/wrist problems resurfaced.

Mills continued playing a full LPGA Tour schedule into the early 1980s, but those injuries — plus a bad case of the yips — led to her retirement in 1982.

After retiring, Mills worked as a professional photographer and also as an executive sales consultant with Food Services International. She earned a degree in landscape architecture from Florida International University in the 1990s. She used that degree as a co-designer on four golf courses, and Mills also became a highly respected golf instructor.

Mary Mills is a member of the Mississippi Golf Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

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