Nickname: Watusi Kid. This derives from Caponi's love of dance - it's said she often followed a day on the course with a night on the dancefloor.
LPGA Championship: 1979, 1981
U.S. Women's Open: 1969, 1970
Awards and Honors:
Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
Keith Hirshland, producer for The Golf Channel: "There's a sparkle to Donna. I think it's a gift to be able to talk to people, and Donna has it. She listens. She cares. You can't spend a minute around her and remain in a bad mood."
She competed as Donna Young from 1971-80.
Janet Caponi LePera, Donna's sister, also played on the LPGA Tour.
Donna Caponi Biography:
Donna Caponi had yet to win on the LPGA Tour when she reached the final hole of the 1969 U.S. Women's Open needing a 4-foot birdie putt for the victory. Byron Nelson was doing the broadcast analysis, and nearly - inadvertently - derailed Caponi's chances.
She stepped back over the ball and sank it for the win. She later learned that Nelson had been looking at a camera angle from the opposite side, so gave the opposite direction from what she was seeing. They were both right - but it was trusting her own read that won her the title.
Caponi's father was a club pro and she picked up the game at age five. Her rookie year on the LPGA Tour was 1965, but she didn't win until that 1969 U.S. Women's Open.
Then she won the Women's Open again in 1970. Trying to three-peat, she finished third in 1971. A decade later, she won the LPGA Championship in two out of three years. In-between those four majors, she was a solid player and a regular contender who won occasionally.
But she won five times each in 1980 and 1981. Those were her last victories, but that late-career surge was enough to get her voted into the LPGA Hall of Fame.
Caponi also won the Peter Jackson Classic (later renamed the duMaurier) in 1976 and the 1980 Colgate Dinah Shore Winner's Circle. Both tournaments would later be upgraded to major championship status, but in these years were not yet considered majors.
Caponi's last full year of competition on the LPGA Tour was 1987. She was a strong hitter with a cheery personality who was very popular with fellow players. She went on to a successful career in golf broadcasting and her Hall of Fame nod came from the Veterans Committee in 2001.
Caponi remarried in 2006 and now goes by the name of Donna Caponi-Byrnes.