Judy Kimball: Golfer Was LPGA Major Winner

Judy Kimball won a major championship on the LPGA Tour in 1962, and played the tour for approximately two decades. Her final wins were in 1971. She was an outstanding putter and twice set all-time LPGA Tour records for fewest putts in a round.

Birth name: Judith Ann Kimball

Date of birth: June 17, 1938

Place of birth: Sioux City, Iowa

Also known as: After marriage, Judy Kimball Simon

Kimball's Biggest Pro Wins

Judy Kimball had three career wins on the LPGA Tour:
  • 1961 American Women's Open
  • 1962 LPGA Championship
  • 1971 O'Sullivan Ladies Open
She also won two team tournaments off the tour: the 1966 Yankee Women's Open (partnered by Gloria Ehret) and the 1971 LPGA Four-Ball Championship (partnered by Kathy Whitworth).

In the Majors

Kimball won an LPGA major championship in her second year on tour. Aged 24, she took the title in the 1962 LPGA Championship with a then-record score of 282. (The LPGA Championship is today named the Women's PGA Championship.)

Kimball opened the tournament with rounds of 70 and 69, taking a four-streak lead over Shirley Spork at the halfway mark. And after closing rounds of 71 and 72, that's how Kimball finished it — four strokes ahead of runner-up Spork. She closed out the win with a birdie on the final hole.

Kimball's 282 total lowered by three strokes the previous tournament record of 285 established by Louise Suggs in 1957. Kimball's record also stood only three years, until Sandra Haynie lowered the record in 1965.

Kimball also finished second in two other majors: at the 1964 Women's Western Open and 1966 Titleholders Championship. At the 1964 WWO, Kimball tied for second with Ruth Jessen, two strokes behind winner Carol Mann. At the 1966 Titleholders, Kimball tied for second with Mary Mills, two strokes behind winner Kathy Whitworth.

In addition to those three majors, Kimball finished in the Top 10 in eight other majors, including third place in the 1967 LPGA Championship. She was in the Top 10 three times in the WWO, three times in the Titleholders, and five times in the LPGA Championship. Her best finish in a U.S. Women's Open was tied for 11th in 1963. All of her Top 10s in majors happened from 1962 to 1967.

More About Judy Kimball

Judy Kimball didn't even start playing golf until she was 16 years old. Yet, just two years later, she was off to the University of Kansas to play on the golf team.

Her amateur career wasn't particularly strong by the standards of future LPGA major wins. Kimball finished fourth place or better four years running (1957-60) in the Iowa State Women's Amateur, winning it in 1958. She reached the semifinals of the Women's Trans-Mississippi in 1959 and the Women's Western Amateur in 1960.

After graduating from Kansas in 1960, Kimball spent a couple months in Austin, Texas, contemplating entering graduate school. While there she played golf with LPGA superstar Betsy Rawls and came under the tutelage of Rawls' instructor, Harvey Penick. That experience gave her the confidence to turn pro late in 1960 at age 22.

Her rookie year on the LPGA Tour was 1961, and it didn't take long for her decision to go pro to be proved a good one. She earned her first pro victory in her 16th start on the LPGA at the 1961 American Women's Open. Coincidentally, that first win was by two strokes over Rawls, who was the runner-up.

Kimball was the only first-time winner on tour in 1961, and she also had one runner-up finish (to Mickey Wright in the Mickey Wright Invitational). She finished 18th on the money list. Kimball probably would have won the LPGA Rookie of the Year award except that award wasn't established until the following year.

Putting was the strength of Kimball's game, and in that first victory she set a tour record to prove it. In the final round of the 1961 American Women's Open, Kimball needed only 21 putts. At the time, that was a new, all-time record on the LPGA. Two years later, Kimball lowered the record to 20 putts for 18 holes during the 1963 St. Petersburg Open. That record wasn't beaten until 1978.

Following her second win in 1962 at the LPGA Championship, Kimball went eight more years without winning. Then, in 1971, she had victories in back-to-back weeks. First up was the 1971 LPGA Four-Ball Championship, an unofficial team tournament (not counted by the LPGA Tour) in which she was partnered by Kathy Whitworth. The following week, Kimball won the O'Sullivan Ladies Classic over runner-up Margie Masters.

That proved not only her final LPGA victory, but she never finished as high as second place in an official LPGA tournament again. Kimball played the tour full-time for 18 years, finishing with the three wins plus nine second-place finishes.

Kimball finished in the Top 20 of LPGA money list every year from 1961-68, with best showings of eighth in 1966 and seventh in 1967. She continued to finish in the Top 60 through 1979.

After her competitive playing days ended, Kimball stayed in the game as an instructor. Today, she is a member of the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame and the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

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