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Patty Berg

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Patty Berg

Golfer Patty Berg in 1951.

Central Press/Getty Images
Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Patty Berg

Patty Berg (left) at the 1950 All-American Championship with Babe Zaharias.

Underwood Archives/Getty Images

Patty Berg was one of the pioneers of women's professional golf, and to this day is credited with more wins in women's majors than any other golfer.

Date of birth: Feb. 13, 1918
Place of birth: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of death: Sept. 10, 2006
Nickname: Dynamite

Tour Victories:

60
Note: Berg's professional career began well before the founding of the LPGA Tour, but the tour counts many of those prior wins as official LPGA Tour victories.

Major Championships:

Professional: 15
• U.S. Women's Open: 1946
• Western Open: 1941, 1943, 1948, 1951, 1955, 1957, 1958
• Titleholders: 1937, 1938, 1939, 1948, 1953, 1955, 1957
Amateur: 1
• U.S. Women's Amateur: 1938

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Member, Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame
• Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, 1938, 1943, 1955
• LPGA Tour money leader 1954, 1955, 1957
• LPGA Tour scoring leader 1953, 1955, 1956
• Member, U.S. Curtis Cup team, 1936, 1938

Quote, Unquote:

• The World Golf Hall of Fame quotes Carol Mann saying that Patty Berg is "the most knowledgeable person, man or woman, of different golf shots that I've ever known."

• Patty Berg: "There is nothing in this game of golf that can't be improved upon if you practice."

• Patty Berg: "Always keep learning. It keeps you young."

• Patty Berg: "Shake a hand, make a friend."

Trivia:

• In 1951, Berg led a team of LPGA Tour professionals to England to play a Ryder Cup-style match against candidates for the British Walker Cup team. Berg and her teammates Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Betsy Rawls, Peggy Kirk, Betty Jameson and Betty Bush won the competition, 6.5 to 2.5.

• Berg won the very first U.S. Women's Open played, in 1946.

• Her 15 major championship titles is a record for women.

Patty Berg Biography:

The red-haired, freckle-faced Midwesterner Patty Berg was one of the driving forces in the growth of women's golf in the mid-20th century. And all her life, she remained an ambassador for the game she loved.

Berg was a tomboy as a child, playing football in her Minneapolis, Minn., neighborhood where her friends included future Hall of Fame football coach Bud Wilkinson. She took up golf at the age of 13 and by 1934, age 16, she won the city championship.

Her first appearance on the national stage came in 1935, when she reached the finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur as a 17-year-old, before losing to Glenna Collett Vare.

Berg won her first major championship, the 1937 Titleholders, as an amateur. She would win the Titleholders seven more times, the last coming in 1957. Berg also won the Women's Western Open seven times, the first in 1941 and last in 1958. Those account for 14 of her 15 career major titles, the other one being the 1946 U.S. Women's Open - the first year that tournament was played.

Berg turned pro in 1940, but when America entered World War II she joined the Navy and served in the Marines until 1945, working as a recruitment officer.

Berg played professionally on the Women's Professional Golf Association (WPGA) tour, the precursor to the LPGA. She helped found the LPGA in 1950 and served as its first president.

Over the years, Berg competed while also barnstorming the U.S. by car conducting clinics on behalf of Wilson Sporting Goods. By her estimation, Berg led more than 10,000 clinics in her lifetime. And she was known for having all the shots herself. Berg wasn't a long hitter, but she had a terrific short game and was known as one of the best shotmakers.

Berg was a major force on the course during the first decade of the LPGA Tour, winning majors, money titles and scoring titles. Her last win on tour was in 1962, but she continued playing the occasional tournament even after cancer surgery in 1971. Her final appearance on tour didn't come until 1980, when she was 62. Hip replacement surgery that year finally led her to hang up her spikes.

But Berg never stopped playing golf with friends, and continued to enjoy the game into her seventies. She also continued setting up and teaching at golf clinics all over the world.

The LPGA annually awards the Patty Berg Award, established in 1978, to "the lady golfer who has made the greatest contribution to women's golf during the year."

Berg was one of the original members of the Women's Golf Hall of Fame in 1951, and was also in the first class inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

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