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Jan Stephenson

Profile of the former LPGA star from Australian

By

Jan Stephenson

Jan Stephenson in 1993.

Simon Barnett/Getty Images

Jan Stephenson was one of the top players in women's golf in the 1970s and 1980s. She brought glamour to the game, but some believed her emphasis on sex appeal overshadowed her golf.

Date of birth: Dec. 22, 1951
Place of birth: Sydney, Australia
Nickname: During her full-time tour days, was called "Nana" by some of the younger players because of her helpfulness to newcomers.

LPGA Tour Victories:

16

Major Championships:

3
• LPGA Championship: 1982
• U.S. Women's Open: 1983
• du Maurier Classic: 1981

Awards and Honors:

• LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year, 1974

Quote, Unquote:

• Jan Stephenson: "We have to promote sex appeal. It's a fact of life. The people who watch are predominantly male, and they won't keep watching if the girls aren't beautiful."

Trivia:

• Jan Stephenson recorded eight holes-in-one in LPGA competition, second-most in Tour history. • Stephenson is generally considered the first female touring professional to get into the golf course design business.

• In 2011, she was a contestant on the Australian TV version of Dancing With the Stars.

Jan Stephenson Biography:

Jan Stephenson was the "It Girl" of professional golf in the 1980s, one of the first LPGA Tour stars to openly embrace and champion a sex-sells approach to marketing. But the focus on her blonde-pinup looks sometimes overshadowed what was a very good golf game.

While a teenager, Stephenson won five consecutive New South Wales Schoolgirl Championships in Australia, beginning in 1964, and followed that up with three straight wins in the New South Wales Junior Championship. She turned pro in 1973 and won the Australian Open that year. Stephenson joined the LPGA Tour in 1974 and was named Rookie of the Year.

Her first LPGA victory was the 1976 Sarah Coventry Naples Classic. Her most productive period was the early 1980s, when she won all of her majors in consecutive years: 1981 du Maurier, the 1982 LPGA Championship and the 1983 U.S. Women's Open.

Stephenson became as famous for her sex appeal as her golf during the early to mid-80s, when she posed in a bathtub - covered up only by the golf balls filling the tub - and later in a pinup calendar. She had big hair, bright makeup and eye-catching outfits, and she urged the LPGA Tour to fully embrace her approach to marketing. There's no question she grew the audience the LPGA Tour during this time with her glamorous approach to golf - but many criticized that approach.

On the golf course, Stephenson won three times each in 1981, 1983 and 1987, those wins in '87 being her final ones on the LPGA.

Stephenson continued playing LPGA events throughout the 1990s, but was hampered by an injury suffered during a mugging in Miami in 1990. Her left ring finger was broken in two places, an injury that still bothers her play in cold or wet weather.

Stephenson went on to win on the Women's Senior Golf Tour, a tour she helped found.

In 2003, she became the first woman to play on the Champions Tour, missing the cut. Shortly before that event, she caused controversy with comments bemoaning the influx of Asian golfers to the LPGA Tour.

Stephenson is among the few women in the course design business, and produced an exercise video for people with arthritis. Her many charitable efforts include being an honorary chairman of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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