Let's Be Clear: Wright Won Four Straight Majors
MT. PLEASANT, S.C. -- In all the talk about the wealth of talent on the LPGA right now there may be no player who gets short-changed more than Mickey Wright. Her 82 victories are second only to the 88 by Kathy Whitworth and her 13 major championships rank second only to the 15 by Patty Berg. What makes it all the more remarkable is that Wright pretty much stopped playing a full LPGA schedule at age 34.
In reporting Lorena Ochoa's withdrawal from the Ginn Tribute because of the death of her uncle earlier this week, I said she is trying to join Babe Zaharias and Pat Bradley as the only players to win three consecutive LPGA majors. In fact, if Ochoa wins the McDonald's LPGA Championship next week it would move her within one of a feat accomplished only by Tiger Woods -- and Mickey Wright: holding all four professional major trophies at the same time.
Woods turned the trick with the last three majors of 2000 and the first of 2001. Wright captured the U.S. Women's Open and the LPGA Championship in 1961 and then picked off the 1962 Titleholders Championship and the Western Open before Murle Lindstrom stopped the streak by winning the U.S. Women's Open.
Part of the reason Wright's major accomplishment has gone overlooked is because the LPGA has had seven different tournaments serve as majors during its 58-year history. Also, the order of the events designated as majors has varied at times.
Currently, the LPGA majors -- in order -- are: the Kraft Nabisco Championship, McDonald's LPGA Championship, U.S. Women's Open and Ricoh Women's British Open. The du Maurier Classic, the Western Open and the Titleholders Championship have also been majors at various times.
The Titleholders went away after 1966, returned for one year in 1972 and then disappeared for good. The Western Open went belly-up after 1967. There were years when the LPGA, which began in 1950, had as few as two majors. It has consistently had four since 1983 when the U.S. Women's Open, LPGA Championship, Kraft Nabisco and du Maurier were on board. The Women's British Open replaced the du Maurier in 2001.
To set the record straight -- which is important because this could be a record-setting year for Ochoa -- the only two players to sweep all the LPGA majors in a year were Babe Zaharias (1950, when there were only three) and Sandra Haynie (1974, one of 10 years in which there were only two majors).
Pat Bradley is the last player to win three LPGA majors in a single season (1986) and won three in a row over 1985-86. If you want to talk about domination, from 1958 through 1964, Wright won 12 of the 28 LPGA majors contested, capturing three in 1961, the year she started her run of four straight.
-- Ron Sirak