Looking Back at Mickey Wright

Mickey Wright, a living legend in the world of golf, was the premier LPGA player in 1960’s. With a swing noted by Ben Hogan to have been the best in golf, Wright was a player that transcended the line between men and women in the game. While her name is often mentioned in the same breath as Hogan, Snead and Jones, her swing was and still remains a picture of perfection. Her tall and athletic build made her a skillful and powerful swinger of the golf club. Her shot-making ability and strength brought a greater level of respect to the LPGA. "I always say Mickey was the best golfer the LPGA ever had," noted LPGA Hall of Fame member and 55-time winner Betsy Rawls. "I think most of the people who ever saw her play still think that. She sort of revolutionized golf for us because she was so good and her swing was so perfect."

Wright was born in San Diego, California, and started playing golf at the age of twelve. She won her first junior tournament of note, the U.S. Girls Junior, in 1952. She earned the amateur medal at the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open and joined the LPGA tour in 1955, after leaving Stanford University prior to graduating. It took Wright nearly a year to clinch her first title, the 1956 Jacksonville Open. After that, winning became second nature. In all, Wright won 82 tournaments, ranking her second behind Kathy Whitworth who holds the all-time record with 88.

Wright won 68 of her 82 tournament titles in the decade of the 60’s. In 1961, she won three major championships - the U.S. Women’s Open, the LPGA Championship and the Titleholders. Over the course of 1961 and 1962, Wright became the only LPGA player in history to ever hold all four major championship trophies at the same time. She won the final two major championships of the 1961 season, the U.S. Women’s Open and the LPGA Championship and the first two majors of 1962, the Titleholders and the Western Open. She amassed 13 major championships, a feat that ranks second only behind Patty Berg who won 15. Wright is the only player to have won four LPGA Championships and she shares the record with Rawls for the most U.S. Open victories with four.

Wright played 14 straight years with at least one victory. Her most successful stretch spanned a four year period from 1961-1964. During these years, she won a minimum of 10 tournaments in each season, with an impressive 13 wins in 1963, a record that still stands today. That same year she finished in the top ten in 27 of 28 events. She won the Vare Trophy each year from 1960-1964. In 1967, Wright was one of the six inaugural inductees into the LPGA Hall of Fame along with Berg, Louise Suggs, Babe Zaharias, Betty Jameson and Rawls. She also served as the President of the LPGA in 1963 and 1964.

Rewriting the record books in the 60’s, however, came with a price for Wright. Noted by her peers as the player to beat each week, Wright was under tremendous pressure to carry the weight of the tour on her back and was expected by the sponsors to play every tournament. When she did win; that was something she was supposed to do, and when she did not win, which was rare, the question was always asked “What is wrong with Mickey Wright”. Wright never reveled in the spotlight of being the best player in the world. Wright once said, "I'm not real good as far as wanting to be in front of people, glorying in it and loving it. I think you have to love that to make that kind of pressure tolerable. It finally got to where it wasn't tolerable to me."

Wright retired from full-time play in 1969, at the age of 34. She continued to compete part-time for another decade and made her last professional appearance at the 1995 Senior Sprint Challenge in Daytona Beach, Florida. Wright lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and still hits golf balls every day. Named the Female Golfer of the Century by the Associated Press in 1999, Wright, today, is still one of the most sought after interviews in all of sports.

Mickey Wright Records

Youngest to reach 30 wins
Mickey Wright, 26 years, 11 months, 7 days, 1962 Sea Island Women’s Invitational
Kathy Whitworth, 27 years, 6 months, 27 days, 1967 Raleigh Ladies Invitational
Nancy Lopez, 28 years, 4 months, 13 days, 1985 Chrysler-Plymouth Charity Classic

Fastest to reach 40 wins
Mickey Wright, 8 years, 1 month, 2 days, 1963 Sea Island Women’s Invitational
Annika Sorenstam, 8 years, 9 months, 5 days, 2002 Samsung World Championship
Louise Suggs, 9 years, 3 months, 18 days, 1959 Dallas Civitan Open (does not include her eight wins prior to the inception of the LPGA)

Youngest to reach 40 wins
Mickey Wright, 27 years, 11 months, 20 days, 1963 Sea Island Women’s Invitational
Kathy Whitworth, 28 years, 10 months, 8 days, 1968 Gino Paoli Open
Annika Sorenstam, 31 years, 11 months, 27 days, 2002 Samsung World Championship

Fastest to reach 50 wins
Mickey Wright, 8 years, 8 months, 21 days, 1963 Visalia Ladies’ Open
Annika Sorenstam, 10 years, 3 months, 3 days, 2004 Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott
Kathy Whitworth, 10 years, 3 months, 19 days, 1969 Lady Carling Open

Youngest to reach 50 wins
Mickey Wright, 28 years, 7 months, 8 days, 1963 Visalia Ladies’ Open
Kathy Whitworth, 29 years, 6 months, 23 days, 1969 Lady Carling Open
Annika Sorenstam, 33 years, 5 months, 25 days, 2004 Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott

Largest come-from-behind victory
10 strokes, Mickey Wright, 1964 Tall City Open
10 strokes, Annika Sorenstam, 2001 The Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott
10 strokes, Louise Friberg, 2008 MasterCard Classic Honoring Alejo Peralta Presented by Nextel

Most wins at the same tournament
5, Mickey Wright, Sea Island Open (1957-58, 1960, 1962-63)
5, Kathy Whitworth, Orange Blossom Classic (1965, 1968-70, 1974)
5, Annika Sorenstam, Samsung World Championship (1995-96, 2002, 2004-2005)
5, Annika Sorenstam, Mizuno Classic (2001-2005)
5, Se Ri Pak, Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger (1998-99, 2001, 2003, 2007)

Most consecutive wins in scheduled events
4, Mickey Wright, 1962 (Heart of America Invitational, Aug. 9-12; Albuquerque Swing Parade, Aug. 17-19; Salt Lake City Open, Aug. 23-26; Spokane Open, Aug. 31-Sept. 3)
4, Mickey Wright, 1963 (Alpine Civitan Open, May 10-12; Muskogee Civitan Open, May 16-19; Dallas Civitan Open, May 23-26; Babe Zaharias Open, May 31-June 2)
4, Kathy Whitworth, 1969 (Orange Blossom Open, March 13-17; Port Charlotte Invitational, March 20-23; Port Malabar Invitational, March 27-30; Lady Carling Open, April 17-20)
4, Annika Sorenstam, 2001 (Welch’s/Circle K Championship, March 8-11; Standard Register PING, March 15-18; Nabisco Championship, March 22-25; The Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott, April 12-14)
4, Lorena Ochoa, 2008 (Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola, March 27-30; Kraft Nabisco Championship, April 3-6; Corona Championship, April 10-13; Ginn OPEN, April 17-20)

Most majors won, season
3, Babe Zaharias, 1950 (U.S. Women’s Open, Titleholders, Western Open)*
*Only three majors were held in 1950.
3, Mickey Wright, 1961 (LPGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open, Titleholders)
3, Pat Bradley, 1986 (Nabisco Dinah Shore, LPGA Championship, du Maurier Ltd. Classic)

Most official tournament wins in one season
13, Mickey Wright, 1963
11, Mickey Wright, 1964
11, Annika Sorenstam, 2002

Topics: Wright, Mickey

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