Nancy Lopez, whose best years were in the late 1970s and 1980s, was one of the best and most popular LPGA golfers of all time.
Date of birth: Jan. 6, 1957
Place of birth: Torrance, California
LPGA Tour Victories:
LPGA Championship: 1978, 1985, 1989
Awards and Honors:
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• LPGA Tour money leader, 1978, 1979, 1985
• LPGA Tour Vare Trophy (scoring) winner, 1978, 1979, 1985
• LPGA Tour player of the year, 1978, 1979, 1985, 1989
• Member, U.S. team, 1976 Curtis Cup
• Member, U.S. team, 1990 Solheim Cup
• Captain, U.S. team, 2005 Solheim Cup
• Nancy Lopez: "The simpler I keep things, the better I play."
• Nancy Lopez: "Do your best, one shot at a time and then move on. Remember that golf is just a game."
• Lopez never won the U.S. Women's Open, but finished second several times. One of those was in 1977, when something happened that Lopez still jokes caused her to fall short. What happened? In the final round, Lopez ripped her pants.
• Lopez is the only golfer to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, and the Vare Trophy in the same season (1978).
• Her first LPGA win was the 1978 Sarasota Classic, which she won again in 1987 for her 35th to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame.
Nancy Lopez Biography:
Nancy Lopez burst onto the golf scene in a blaze of glory, then settled in for a long ride - interrupted by the birth of her children - that inevitably took her to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Lopez's father, Domingo, introduced her to the game at age 8 and tutored her development. She won the New Mexico Women's Amateur at age 12, and the U.S. Junior Girls Amateur in 1972 and 1974. Playing the U.S. Women's Open as a 17-year-old amateur in 1975, Lopez finished tied for second.
In 1976 Lopez was named All-American for her play at Tulsa University. She left college after her sophomore year and turned pro in 1977. That year she finished second again in the Women's Open.
In her first full season on the LPGA Tour, 1978, Lopez's charming personality, megawatt smile and amazing golf propelled her into superstardom. She won nine titles total, including five tournaments in a row. She made the cover of Sports Illustrated, won the Vare Trophy, and was named both Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year.
What did Lopez do for an encore? She won another eight times in 1979.
Lopez won multiple times in each year from 1980 to 1984, although she played only half-seasons in 1983 and 1984 due to the birth of her first child.
Playing full time again in 1985, Lopez posted five wins, five seconds and five thirds, won the money title, the scoring title and the Player of the Year Award.
She played only four tournaments in 1986, when her second daughter was born. But again, Lopez came back to win multiple times in 1987-89 - three times each in 1988 and 1989 - and once again won Player of the Year honors in 1988.
Her schedule was curtailed again in the early 1990s when her third daughter was born. But in 1992 she won twice. Lopez continued to play short schedules - from 11 to 18 tournaments - through 2002, then in 2003 cut back to just a couple events a year before eventually retiring.
There is no doubt that Nancy Lopez is one of the greats in the history of women's golf, and the best player from the late 1970s to late 1980s. But there is one gaping hole on her resume, a lack of more majors - and specifically, never winning the U.S. Women's Open.
Lopez finished second in that event four times, the last coming in 1997 when she became the first golfer to play all four rounds of the Women's Open in the 60s, yet still lost to Alison Nicholas.
Her company, Nancy Lopez Golf, makes a full line of women's clubs and accessories. Lopez also does occasional television commentary. Her husband, Ray Knight, is a former All-Star baseball player.