US Women’s Open Winners and History

In some ways, the history of the US Women’s Open reflects the history of inequity in women’s sports. It’s a young tournament, dating back to only 1946, whereas the equivalent (and generally male) US Open dates to 1895. This is, the USGA, suggests in its official history, due to a decided lack of women professionals until after the Second World War.

Along those lines, it’s also worthy of noting that unlike the US Open, it was not founded by the USGA, but rather by the pioneering, but short-lived Women’s Professional Golfers Association.  The first was a match play event at the Spokane Country Club, with the $19,700 purse contributed by a men’s fraternal organization out of slot machine proceeds. The USGA shortchanged the women then, as they do now with significantly lower purses. How this stands the test of gender parity, I don’t know.

After three years, the WPGA turned the tournament over to the newly formed LPGA. It wasn’t until 1953 that it was first run by the USGA, which had been running the US Open, US Amateur and US Women’s Amateur since 1895.

Another distinction from the US Open: While the US Women’s Open is the oldest women’s tournament open to professionals and amateurs, it’s not universally considered a major in the golf world. Neither the European Ladies Professional Golf Tour, nor the Japan LPGA sanction the US Women’s Open.

Patty Berg won the first Women’s Open, defeating Betty Jameson 5 and 4 in the 36 hole final. That was the last Women’s Open that used match play. (Note that the PGA Championship used match play until 1957, after which it too abandoned the format).

Betsy Rawls was the winner of the first USGA sponsored championship. In all, Rawls would win four times, a feat matched only by Mickey Wright. The only amateur winner was Catherine Lacoste (daughter of Rene Lacoste), in 1967.

When the USGA assumed control of the championship, there were just 37 entrants. Reflecting the growth in womens’s sports, in 2010, there were 1,296 entries. Growth in women’s sports internationally also is on display as nine of the last 20 champions have been foreign born.

The US Women’s Open currently has the biggest purse in women’s golf, at $5 million. Note, however, that this does not even come close to equity with the men’s game, for which the USGA offers $12 million.

The US Women’s Open is open to any female golfer with a handicap of 4.4 or lower. Qualifying consists of a single sectional state of 36 holes played on a single day. Exemptions come from eleven categories, including winners of the Women’s Open from the past ten years, major winners from the past five, the top 50 from the previous LPGA money list, the fop five from the Japan LPGA, Korea LPGA, and European LPGA money lists, and official winners of LPGA tournaments from the past year.

A list of all past winners is below:

YearChampionCountryVenueScoreTo par
2019Lee Jeong-eunSouth KoreaCountry Club of Charleston278-6
2018Ariya JutanugarnThailandShoal Creek Golf and Country Club277-11
2017Park Sung-hyunSouth KoreaTrump National Golf Club277-11
2016Brittany Lang United StatesCordeValle Golf Club282−6 PO
2015Chun In-gee South KoreaLancaster Country Club272−8
2014Michelle Wie United StatesPinehurst Resort, Course No. 2278−2
2013Inbee Park (2) South KoreaSebonack Golf Club280−8
2012Choi Na-yeon South KoreaBlackwolf Run, composite course281−7
2011Ryu So-yeon South KoreaBroadmoor Golf Club, East Course281−3 PO
2010Paula Creamer United StatesOakmont Country Club281−3
2009Eun-Hee Ji South KoreaSaucon Valley Country Club284E
2008Inbee Park South KoreaInterlachen Country Club283−9
2007Cristie Kerr United StatesPine Needles Lodge and Golf Club279−5
2006Annika Sörenstam (3) SwedenNewport Country Club284E PO
2005Birdie Kim South KoreaCherry Hills Country Club2873
2004Meg Mallon (2) United StatesThe Orchards Golf Club274−10
2003Hilary Lunke United StatesPumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Witch Hollow Course283−1 PO
2002Juli Inkster (2) United StatesPrairie Dunes Golf Club276−4
2001Karrie Webb (2) AustraliaPine Needles Lodge and Golf Club273−7
2000Karrie Webb AustraliaMerit Club282−6
1999Juli Inkster United StatesOld Waverly Golf Club272−16
1998Pak Se-ri South KoreaBlackwolf Run, composite course290+6 PO
1997Alison Nicholas EnglandPumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Witch Hollow Course274−10
1996Annika Sörenstam (2) SwedenPine Needles Lodge and Golf Club272−8
1995Annika Sörenstam SwedenBroadmoor Golf Club, East Course278−2
1994Patty Sheehan (2) United StatesIndianwood Golf and Country Club, Old Course277−7
1993Lauri Merten United StatesCrooked Stick Golf Club280−8
1992Patty Sheehan United StatesOakmont Country Club280−4 PO
1991Meg Mallon United StatesColonial Country Club283−1
1990Betsy King (2) United StatesAtlanta Athletic Club, Riverside Course284−4
1989Betsy King United StatesIndianwood Golf and Country Club, Old Course278−2
1988Liselotte Neumann SwedenBaltimore Country Club, Five Farms, East Course277−7
1987Laura Davies EnglandPlainfield Country Club285−3 PO
1986Jane Geddes United StatesNCR Country Club287−1 PO
1985Kathy Baker United StatesBaltusrol Golf Club, Upper Course280−8
1984Hollis Stacy (3) United StatesSalem Country Club2902
1983Jan Stephenson AustraliaCedar Ridge Country Club2906
1982Janet Alex United StatesDel Paso Country Club283−5
1981Pat Bradley United StatesLa Grange Country Club279−9
1980Amy Alcott United StatesRichland Country Club280−4
1979Jerilyn Britz United StatesBrooklawn Country Club284E
1978Hollis Stacy (2) United StatesCountry Club of Indianapolis2895
1977Hollis Stacy United StatesHazeltine National Golf Club2924
1976JoAnne Carner (2) United StatesRolling Green Golf Club292+8 PO
1975Sandra Palmer United StatesAtlantic City Country Club2957
1974Sandra Haynie United StatesLa Grange Country Club2957
1973Susie Berning (3) United StatesCountry Club of Rochester2902
1972Susie Berning (2) United StatesWinged Foot Golf Club, East Course29911
1971JoAnne Carner United StatesKahkwa Club288E
1970Donna Caponi (2) United StatesMuskogee Country Club287−1
1969Donna Caponi United StatesScenic Hills Country Club2946
1968Susie Berning United StatesMoselem Springs Golf Club2895
1967Catherine Lacoste (a) FranceThe Homestead2946
1966Sandra Spuzich United StatesHazeltine National Golf Club2979
1965Carol Mann United StatesAtlantic City Country Club2902
1964Mickey Wright (4) United StatesSan Diego Country Club290−2 PO
1963Mary Mills United StatesKenwood Country Club289−3
1962Murle Lindstrom United StatesDunes Golf and Beach Club30113
1961Mickey Wright (3) United StatesBaltusrol Golf Club, Lower Course2935
1960Betsy Rawls (4) United StatesWorcester Country Club2924
1959Mickey Wright (2) United StatesChurchill Valley Country Club287−1
1958Mickey Wright United StatesForest Lake Country Club290−2
1957Betsy Rawls (3) United StatesWinged Foot Golf Club, East Course2997
1956Kathy Cornelius United StatesNorthland Country Club302+11 PO
1955Fay Crocker UruguayWichita Country Club29911
1954Babe Zaharias (3) United StatesSalem Country Club2913
1953Betsy Rawls (2) United StatesCountry Club of Rochester302+10 PO
1952Louise Suggs (2) United StatesBala Golf Club2848
1951Betsy Rawls United StatesDruid Hills Golf Club2935
1950Babe Zaharias (2) United StatesRolling Hills Country Club291−9
1949Louise Suggs United StatesPrince Georges Golf and Country Club291−9
1948Babe Zaharias United StatesAtlantic City Country Club300E
1947Betty Jameson United StatesStarmount Forest Country Club295−9
1946Patty Berg † United StatesSpokane Country Club5&4

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