Jackie Pung came close to winning the
Women’s Open in 1953, where she lost an
18-hole playoff to Betsy Rawls, but this
one really hurt. Pung, a native of Hawaii,
was disqualified after the championship in
one of golf’s most infamous scoring errors.
Pung looked to be the champion at
Winged Foot GC when she walked off the
18th green, but about 40 minutes later she
was disqualified for signing an incorrect
scorecard. Pung had shot a 3-under-par 72
in the final round, and that’s the score for
which she signed. But her score on the
par- 5 fourth hole was recorded – by marker
and playing partner Betty Jameson – as a
5 when she had actually made bogey 6.
Pung’s mistake allowed Betsy Rawls, who
shot 299 for the week, to claim the third of
her four U.S. Women’s Open titles. Pung’s
score was 298, until she was disqualified.
“This time I thought I'd won. But I didn’t,” Pung said later in a Sports Illustrated
story. “Golf is played by rules, and I broke
a rule. I've learned a lesson. And I have
two broad shoulders ...”
RULES SNAFU 1957
“THE BABE’S” FINEST HOUR 1954
Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias was
one of the greatest athletes of the 20th
century, regardless of gender, and the 1954
Open may have been her finest moment.
Already a two-time winner of the cham-
pionship (1948, ’50) and a founding mem-
ber of the LPGA, Zaharias won the 1954
Open several months after undergoing
colon surgery. She waged a public battle
with cancer after being diagnosed with the
disease in 1953.
NO. 4 FOR WRIGHT 1964
Mickey Wright joined Betsy Rawls as the
only four-time winners of the Women’s Open
with her win at San Diego CC in 1964. In
doing so, Wright completed a miraculous
run in the event, with four titles in a seven-year window (1958-64).
Wright won No. 4 with a round of 70 in the
18-hole playoff over Ruth Jensen, who shot 72.
The win was the 12th major championship
of Wright’s fabulous career. Her 13th, and
last, came two years later when Wright
won the 1966 Women’s Western Open –
then an LPGA major – at Rainbow Springs
CC in Mukwonago.
So Yeon Ryu is the defending champion.
Waukesha native Lauri Merten joined a
short list of Wisconsinites who have won a
USGA championship with her come-from-behind victory in 1993 at Crooked Stick
GC in Indiana. Merten, whose family
moved to Arizona when she was a child,
won three LPGA titles before retiring from
The biggest of those came at the ‘93
Open, where she shot a final round 68 that
allowed her to catch and pass third-round
leader Helen Alfredsson for the win.
Merten still shares the record with five
other players for the largest final-round
comeback (five strokes) by a Women’s
Merten, 33 at the time, completed her 4-
MERTEN’S MIRACLE 1993
under-par 68 with a 3-foot birdie putt on
the 18th green that sent her to the clubhouse as the leader at 4 under par. Then
she had to wait and watch for the next
hour to see if anyone could match her. No
one did. Alfredsson and Donna Andrews
settled for runner-up honors at 3 under.
“I just hit some shots that I’ll probably
never hit again,” Merten said of her
precision play in the final round.
THREE-HOLE PLAYOFF 2011
Twenty-one-year-old So Yeon Ryu won
the first three-hole aggregate playoff in
Women’s Open history at The Broadmoor in
Colorado Springs, Colo., beating fellow
Korean Hee Kyung Seo by three strokes.
This championship also seemed to bring
full circle the influence of Korean players
on the LPGA Tour, begun by Pak in 1998
at Blackwolf Run. South Koreans – including
Birdie Kim in 2005, Inbee Park in ‘08 and
Eun-Hee Ji in ’09 – have won four of the
last seven Women’s Opens.
Among the players who ran out on the
18th green to douse Ryu with champagne
was her hero Pak. Afterward, Ryu admitted
she began taking golf seriously following
Pak’s win in 1998. That event, she said, was
a key moment in her switch from playing
the violin to pursuing golf.
“When I was (starting) golf, Se Ri Pak won
the U.S. Women's Open tournament,” Ryo
said, “so this tournament is really special
for me.” ;;