Murle (Lindstrom) Breer: LPGA Golfer, U.S. Women's Open Winner

Murle (Lindstrom) Breer was a U.S. Women's Open champion in the early 1960s. Her LPGA Tour career was interrupted by family concerns, but she returned to win a couple more times in the late 1960s. Her LPGA Tour career stretched from the 1950s into the 1980s.

Date of birth: January 20, 1939

Place of birth: St. Petersburg, Florida

Also known as: Competed under her birth name, Murle MacKenzie, until marrying, and then as Merle Lindstrom (the name under which she won her U.S. Women's Open). Since her second marriage, in the late 1960s, she has been known as Murle Breer.

Breer's Pro Wins

Breer is credited with four wins on the LPGA Tour:
  • 1962 U.S. Women's Open
  • 1962 San Antonio Civitan
  • 1967 Carlsbad Jaycee Open
  • 1969 O'Sullivan Ladies Open
Breer also won a well-known but unofficial-money tournament, the JCPenney Classic, in 1979. She was partnered by PGA Tour player Dave Eichelberger.

Her U.S. Women's Open Win and Other Major Finishes

How would you like to win the biggest title available to you for your first professional victory? That's what Murle Breer (then known as Murle Lindstrom) did at the 1962 U.S. Women's Open.

Breer, age 23, had been a member of the LPGA Tour for four years, without any wins, at that point. But she set a U.S. Women's Open record in her victory.

Breer was four strokes off the lead of Ruth Jessen and defending champion Mickey Wright after 36 holes. But Wright ballooned to an 81 in the third round. Breer had a 76, but actually lost ground: With a 75, Jessen took the lead and moved five strokes in front of Breer.

But in the final round it was Jessen's turn to stumble. She carded an 80. When Breer shot 73 in the final round — the lowest score of the round — she leapfrogged to the top and to the championship. Her margin of victory was two strokes over Jessen and Jo Ann Prentice.

And the record Breer set? She set the U.S. Women's Open tournament record for biggest final-round comeback by a winner, five strokes (since tied by multiple others but not yet bettered).

(Keep in mind that Breer was playing under the name Murle Lindstrom in 1962, so all USGA records and most lists of U.S. Women's Open winners will show Murle Lindstrom as the 1962 winner.)

In her title defense in 1963, Breer opened with an 83 that knocked her out of the running. But she recovered over the final three rounds to tie for seventh place.

Breer had four other Top 10 finishes in U.S. Women's Opens: eighth in 1959, tied fourth in 1967, tied fifth in 1968 and tied eighth in 1969.

She had five Top 10 finishes in the LPGA Championship, with a best showing of solo fourth in 1970. The others were ninth in 1966, tied eighth in 1968, fifth in 1969, and, her last Top 10 in a major, fifth in 1974. Breer also tied for eighth place in the 1959 Women's Western Open.

More About Murle Breer

There is a legend told about the 15-year-old Murle Mackenzie. She'd been working at a local par-3 course when, in 1954, she signed up to play in a pro-am tournament as one of the ams. But the first tee announcer mistakenly introduced her as a pro, and Mackenzie decided, spur of the moment, to go with it. "According to legend," a later LPGA media guide put it, "she has been a professional ever since."

But it couldn't have happened when she was 15 because Mackenzie later played on her high school's boys golf team (there was no girls team), something she could not have done even as an "accidental pro." In reality, Mackenzie turned pro in 1957, at age 18. And she made some starts in LPGA Tournaments that year.

By 1958 she was playing full-time on the LPGA Tour. And in 1959, she had Top 10 finishes in two majors and was named by some golf publications as the LPGA's "most improved player." She finished 14th on the money list that year.

As Murle Lindstrom, she recorded her first career win at the 1962 U.S. Women's Open. Later, in the last tournament of the LPGA schedule, she won the 1962 San Antonio Civitan by three strokes over Betsy Rawls.

But Lindstrom was already cutting back her tour schedule to focus on family and her job as an assistant club pro. She didn't play much on tour in the years 1963-66.

Returning full time in 1967, she won the Carlsbad Jaycee Open by a stroke over Sandra Hayne. Lindstrom finished 11th on the money list that year.

She remarried in 1969 and began playing as Murle Breer. What turned out to be her final LPGA win happened at the 1969 O'Sullivan Ladies Open, by three strokes over Shirley Englehorn.

Along the way Breer had multiple runner-up finishes, including in the 1963 Peach Blossom Open, the 1967 Ladies Los Angeles Open, the 1972 Birmingham Centennial Classic, the 1973 Charity Golf Classic, and, her last second-place finish, at the 1974 Naples Lely Classic. Her final Top 10 finish was in the 1980 Sarah Coventry.

Breer began cutting back in the early 1980s, and she retired from the tour following the 1984 LPGA season. From 1958-80, Breer finished in the Top 42 every year on the LPGA money list. She was in the Top 20 seven times, with a best finish of eighth in 1969.

She ran a golf school in North Carolina after retirement from the tour. And in the late 1980s and early 1990s Breer played a small number of senior tournaments, but women's senior tournaments were rare at that time. At age 79, though, Breer was able to play in the 2018 U.S. Senior Women's Open — the very first time that tournament was played.

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