All the Amateur Golfers Who've Won LPGA Tour Tournaments

Lydia Ko is one of the amateur winners on the LPGA
How many amateur golfers have won on the LPGA Tour? That number currently stands at five. But they won six tournaments between them, because one of those amateurs claimed two LPGA Tour events.

Two of the amateur winners on the LPGA even won major championships. One of the golfers on the list became a Hall-of-Famer after turning pro, and the LPGA's most-recent amateur winner might be on her way into the Hall herself.

These are all the amateur winners in LPGA history:

Polly Riley, 1950 Tampa Open

This wasn't just the first time an amateur golfer won on the LPGA Tour, this was the first tournament ever played on the LPGA Tour. And it wasn't one of the famous women golfers of the era (e.g., Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg), it was amateur Polly Riley.

The 1950 Tampa Women's Open, LPGA Tour tournament No. 1, was played Jan. 19-22 at Palma Ceia Country Club in Tampa, Florida. Riley had won several big regional amateur tournaments by that time, and went on to win many more. She played on six Curtis Cup squads, had already finished runner-up in the 1947 U.S. Women's Amateur and had several more second-place finishes to come on the LPGA Tour.

Riley won with a total of 295, five strokes better than the runner-up, the far better-known Louise Suggs.

Pat O'Sullivan, 1951 Titleholders Championship

The second amateur to win on the LPGA Tour, but the first to win an LPGA major championship, was Pat O'Sullivan. The Titleholders Championship was played from 1937 to 1966 and one last time in 1972. All of its winners are counted as major champions by the LPGA.

The 1951 Titleholders took place at Augusta Country Club in Augusta, Georgia, March 15-18. O'Sullivan won it with a score of 301, two strokes better than runner-up Beverly Hanson.

O'Sullivan finished second in another LPGA major in 1951, the Women's Western Open. O'Sullivan played for Team USA in 1952 Curtis Cup, and won the prestigious North and South Women's Amateur title three times. She turned pro in the mid-1950s, but regained her amateur status by the late 1950s.

Catherine Lacoste, 1967 U.S. Women's Open

The French amateur Catherine Lacoste was a virtual unknown in the United States when she shocked the field to win the 1967 U.S. Women's Open. She not only became the first (and so far only) amateur to win the biggest tournament in women's golf, but also the first international winner of the U.S. Women's Open and, at age 22, at the time the youngest winner.

The tournament was played June 29-July 2 at The Homestead (Cascades Course) in Hot Springs, Virginia. Lacoste led by five strokes after two rounds and also after three rounds. She carded a shaky 79 in the final round, but won by two strokes over Susie Maxwell and Beth Stone.

Lacoste had won numerous amateur titles in France prior to her U.S. Women's Amateur victory. After, her wins included the 1968 Women's Western Amateur; and the British Ladies and U.S. Women's amateurs in 1969. She never turned pro.

JoAnne Carner, 1969 Burdine's Invitational

The season-opener of the 1969 LPGA season, the Burdine's Invitational title went to JoAnne Carner. Carner was already a famous golfer, even though, at age 29, she had not yet turned professional. She won the U.S. Girls' Junior in 1956, the U.S. college championship in 1960, and won the U.S. Women's Amateur five times from 1957 to 1968.

She had many other big amateur titles, too, and, when she was still going by her maiden name Gunderson, a great nickname: She was "the Great Gundy." After marrying, turning pro later in 1969 and joining the LPGA Tour, Carner was known as "Big Mama."

Carner went on to become one of the greatest women golfers of all-time, with 44 career LPGA wins and two U.S. Women's Open titles.

Lydia Ko, 2012 and 2013 CN Canadian Women's Open

For 43 years, Carner reigned as the last amateur to win on the LPGA Tour. Then a teen-ager from New Zealand showed up on the scene, and won twice as amateur, and back-to-back in the same tournament.

At the 2012 Canadian Women's Open, Lydia Ko, at age 15 years, 4 months, 3 days old, won by three strokes over runner-up Inbee Park. She thus became the youngest LPGA Tour winner ever.

A year later, Ko (pictured at the top of page) did it again, repeating as Canadian Women's Open winner. In 2013, her margin of victory was five strokes over runner-up Karine Icher. And with that win she became the second-youngest winner, to herself, in LPGA history. Ko turned pro later in 2013 and is enjoying a terrific LPGA career so far.

Related: Amateur winners on the PGA Tour

Photo credit: "Lydia Ko"by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Popular posts from this blog

Ryder Cup Captains: The Full List