This week marks the first time the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is held in Minnesota, but our state is no stranger to top-level women’s golf.
The LPGA has held annual tour stops here three times.
The American Women’s Open ran from 1958 to ’61, at Brookview Country Club in Golden Valley the first two years and Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis the final two. Minneapolis native Petty Berg, already a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame by then, won the event in 1958 and 1960.
“I don’t think this could have been a more popular victory,” then-LPGA President Marilynn Smith said after Berg’s second win.
That popularity sparked the second coming of the LPGA Tour to the state.
The Patty Berg Classic (known as the St. Paul Open its first two years) was held from 1973 to ’80 at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood. Kathy Whitworth won the event in 1976, one of her record 88 career victories. Beth Daniel won the event’s last two championships. Both eventually turned in World Golf Hall of Fame careers.
The last regular LPGA Tour stop ran from 1990 to ’98 and featured five different sponsors in its stay at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park (1990-96) and Rush Creek in Maple Grove (97-98). Daniel won that event, too: the inaugural Northgate Classic, held one month after her lone major championship.
“Maybe I should move here,” Daniel said after collecting the $56,250 winner’s check out of a $375,000 pool.
There have been eight world-class events held around the state.
1935 U.S. Women’s Amateur
Site: Interlachen Country Club, Edina
Recap: Minnesota’s own Berg, a 17-year-old junior-to-be at Minneapolis Washburn High School, improbably advanced to the final match after she forced a playoff with a 30-foot putt in the semifinals. In the 36-hole final match, Berg fell behind 32-year-old Glenna Collett Vare from the start and eventually lost 3-and-2.
1956 U.S. Women’s Open
Site: Northland Country Club, Duluth
Recap: After matching 7-over scores for the week, Kathy Cornelius and amateur Barbara McIntire went to an 18-hole playoff. Cornelius prevailed handily by seven shots to win her only career major. Berg and South Dakota native Marlene Hagge finished one shot out of the playoff. Mickey Wright, two years away from the first of 13 career majors, finished ninth.
1966 U.S. Women’s Open
Site: Hazeltine National, Chaska
Recap: In the first major championship held at Hazeltine, Sandra Spuzich overcame a double bogey on the opening hole to shoot even-par 72 in the final round and hold off defending champion Carol Mann by a stroke. It was the first of seven career victories for Spuzich, who turned professional in 1962 after a successful amateur career in Indiana.
1977 U.S. Women’s Open
Site: Hazeltine National
Recap: Despite no birdies during the final round and a bogey on the 72nd hole, Hollis Stacy led wire-to-wire to claim the first of three U.S. Open titles. The two-shot victory came over 20-year-old Nancy Lopez, making her professional debut of a World Golf Hall of Fame career. The event brought 20,734 fans over four days, then a record.
1988 U.S. Women’s Amateur
Site: Minikahda Club, Minneapolis
Recap: Pearl Sinn breezed to the title, defeating Karen Noble 6-and-5 in the final match of an event that began with 357 entries. Sinn, a senior at Arizona State, completed 146 holes in the weeklong tournament in 4 over. Sinn also won the U.S. Women’s Public Links title earlier in the summer.
1999 World Championship of Golf
Site: Rush Creek, Maple Grove
Recap: World No. 1 Karrie Webb made a double bogey on the final hole, missing a 6-footer to give Se Ri Pak the win at 8 under and a $150,000 payday. It was the 19th edition of the 20-player, invitation-only event, which announced Minnesota as its 1999 site only 10 weeks before the start. The event was discontinued after 2009.
2002 Solheim Cup
Site: Interlachen Country Club
Recap: Team USA, which included current Gophers women’s golf coach Michele Redman, rallied from two points down to start Sunday singles to defeat Europe 15½-12½. The Americans won 8½ of a possible 12 points on the final day, improving their overall scoring record in the event to 44-25-7.
2008 U.S. Women’s Open
Site: Interlachen Country Club
Purse: $3.25 million
Recap: At 19 years, 11 months and seven days, Inbee Park became the youngest winner of the championship when she beat 43-year-old Helen Alfredsson by four shots. Her final round 71 was one of only eight scores under par on the final day. While Park held the trophy, the day will also be remembered as Annika Sorenstam’s final U.S. Women’s Open, and she finished in style, holing out from 199 yards away on No. 18 for eagle — which allowed her to break 80 on a frustratingly windy Sunday.