The Best Golfers Who Never Won the U.S. Women's Open

Nancy Lopez never won the US Womens Open

The U.S. Women's Open is the biggest tournament in women's professional golf. And most of the biggest names in women's professional golf have won that tournament. But not all! In fact, you'll probably be surprised to learn that some of the greatest legends in LPGA Tour history never won the U.S. Women's Open.

So let's count down the seven best golfers who never won the U.S. Women's Open.

7. Jane Blalock

She won 27 LPGA Tour titles, but not only didn't Jane Blalock win the U.S. Women's Open, she didn't win any of the major championships of women's golf. In fact, she has the most wins in LPGA Tour history without winning a major.

Blalock had some good finishes at the USWO. In the 10 years from 1971-80, Blalock was in the Top 10 at the USWO six times. Her best finish was solo third in 1976, but that was four shots behind the winner, JoAnne Carner. She also tied for third in 1971, but a whopping 11 strokes behind Carner.

6. Dottie Pepper

Pepper won 17 LPGA Tour titles, including two majors, in a career that probably would have been even bigger if not for a nagging string of injuries (that finally, and prematurely, ended her playing days).

Like Blalock, Pepper's best finish in the U.S. Women's Open was third place. But Pepper achieved that three times, and had five career Top 5 finishes. She tied for third in 1988, six strokes behind winner Liselotte Neumann. Pepper also tied for third in 1990, two strokes behind winner Betsy King, on the strength of a final-round 66. And she was solo third in 2001, although nine strokes behind champion Karrie Webb.

5. Judy Rankin

Like Blalock, Judy Rankin never won an LPGA major. But she did win two tournaments that were later elevated to major championship status — she just had bad timing. Still, Rankin is probably the greatest player in golf history, male or female, without a major championship on her resumé.

In the U.S. Women's Open, Rankin's best shot was 1972 when she finished tied for second place, one stroke behind champion Susie Berning. Berning closed with a 71 to pass Rankin, who had a final-round 73. Rankin had six other Top 10 finishes in the USWO, but no other Top 5 finishes.

For her career, which was plagued by back problems that forced an early retirement, Rankin won 26 LPGA Tour titles, was a two-time Player of the Year, three-time scoring leader and two-time money leader.

4. Beth Daniel

Daniel won more than 30 times on the LPGA Tour, won multiple money titles, scoring titles, Player of the Year Awards. But she never won a U.S. Women's Open. She did finish runner-up twice, early in her career: solo second in 1981, tied for second in 1982.

In 1981 Daniel shot 68 in the final round, but Pat Bradley fired a 66 to beat her by one stroke. The 1982 runner-up was the toughest. Daniel was the third-round leader but shot 76 in the final round. Janet Anderson, who closed with a 68, finished six ahead of Daniel and three others.

3. Lorena Ochoa

Ochoa's career was cut short when she left the LPGA Tour at age 28 to start a family. So her significant accomplishments were crammed into a very short career. Those achievements include four times as LPGA Player of the Year, four times as scoring leader, three times as money leader, and 27 LPGA victories. Those included two majors, the 2007 Women's British Open and 2008 ANA Inspiration.

Because of her short career, Ochoa played the U.S. Women's Open only nine times. Only twice did Ochoa finish in the Top 10: tied for sixth in 2005 and tied for second in 2007.

In 2007, Ochoa finished two strokes behind winner Cristie Kerr. But the 2005 USWO is probably the opportunity Ochoa most rues letting get away. Ochoa was in position to win or at least force a playoff, but had a final-hole meltdown. After a quadruple-bogey, Ochoa finished that many strokes — four — out of a playoff.

2. Nancy Lopez

You can make an argument for either one of the two golfers at No. 2 and No. 1 on this list being the greatest golfer in LPGA history. Nancy Lopez was certainly one of the most charismatic and influential players in golf history, and, at worst, a Top 5 golfer in LPGA history.

But while she came close four times to winning the U.S. Women's Open, Lopez never got one. Her four runner-up finishes at the USWO came at three different points in her career: first in 1975 (as an amateur) and again in 1977, at the beginning; then in 1989, one of Lopez's last great seasons; and finally in 1997, when she was past her prime and her career was winding down.

As an amateur in 1975, Lopez finished four behind the winner, Sandra Palmer. Given her obvious talent — which soon enough resulted in domination of the tour — observers must have felt Lopez winning the USWO was only a matter of time. In 1977 she was runner-up again, doing nothing to dampen the feeling that victory was inevitable. (Lopez was two back of winner Hollis Stacy despite playing much of the final round after ripping her pants!)

Lopez burst into superstardom in 1978 with nine wins, including five in a row, but finished only ninth at the USWO that year. In 1989 — the last season she was named Player of the Year — Lopez was second to Betsy King, but four behind.

The 1997 USWO was the biggest heartbreaker for Lopez, because at age 40 and with only one win in the past four years she (and everyone watching) figured it was her final chance. Lopez entered the final round trailing leader Alison Nicholas by three and closed with a 69. But Nicholas shot 71 to win by one. Lopez had a chance to tie and force a playoff on the final hole, but her downhill, 15-footer missed.

1. Kathy Whitworth

Kathy Whitworth won 88 LPGA Tour titles. That's more any other golfer in LPGA history, more than any golfer on the PGA Tour, too. Six of those wins were majors. But none was a U.S. Women's Open.

Whitworth's first Top 10 in the tournament was in 1960; her last in 1984. She's second on the list of golfers with the most Top 10 finishes at the USWO with 14 (Louise Suggs had 19). From 1968-71 Whitworth was in the Top 5 four straight years, again second-best in tournament history.

Whitworth was fifth, third, fourth and second in that stretch. But her runner-up finish in 1971 wasn't close — she was seven shots behind the winner, JoAnne Carner.

It was in one of her third-place finishes that Whitworth blew her best shot at a U.S. Women's Open victory. In 1981, at age 41, Whitworth took a 1-stroke lead into the final round. But she shot 74 and wound up third, five back of the winner Pat Bradley.

Photo credit: "BE023860" by Sabatu is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

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