The Best Female Golfers In LPGA History - The Delite

The Best Golfers In LPGA Tour History

Since 1950, the LPGA Tour has been the place where the most elite women in golf compete on a weekly basis. From that initial season, where the leading money winner took home less than $15,000 at the end of the year (about $160,000 in 2020 dollars), it has evolved into an intense international competition where the best players routinely earn upwards of $2 million every year.

Since the first event was played, some incredible athletes have made their names on the tour, with each era having its own players who dominated the competition. (For the men’s side of golf, see our list of the best PGA Tour players in history.) Here is our list of the best players to ever tee up in the LPGA Tour.

25. Stacy Lewis (2009-Present)

In the past decade, Stacy Lewis has quickly made a name for herself among the all-time greats on the LPGA Tour. Since joining in 2009, the Ohio native has won 12 tournaments — averaging out to more than one per year — including two majors. She’s also won the prestigious Vare Trophy, which is given to the golfer with the best scoring average each season, twice. One of the years she won it was 2014, when Lewis set the all-time record for birdies in a single season with 85.

In her relatively brief time as a pro, Lewis has already earned $12.9 million in winnings, putting her in the top 10 on the all-time LPGA Tour career money list.

24. Jane Blalock (1969-1987)

During her time on the LPGA Tour, Jane Blalock set a record that no other professional golfer is likely to touch, regardless of their gender. She made the cut at 299 consecutive tournaments, which spanned 11 years where she played through the weekend at LPGA events. While that achievement is indeed impressive, the New Hampshire native also won 27 LPGA Tour events, which ties her at 19th in history. Those wins are also the most for any player who never won a major, which is one of the few marks against Blalock.

23. Beth Daniel (1979-2007)

World Golf Hall of Famer Beth Daniel spent nearly 30 years on the LPGA Tour, and she did just about everything a player can do in the sport of golf. Her 33 LPGA Tour victories are the 15th most ever, and she won the 1990 Women’s PGA Championship for her only career major. Despite the lack of much success at the majors, Daniel was consistently one of the best players on Tour, winning the Vare Trophy and being named LPGA Tour Player of the Year three times each. The cherry on top of it all came in 2003, when she became the oldest player to ever win an LPGA event at the age of 46.

22. Carol Mann (1961-1981)

The LPGA Tour was completely dominated by two players in the 1960s — Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright — but Carol Mann was able to make her own mark during that decade as well. The New York native became the only player other than those two to win the Vare Trophy during the 1960s and won a ton of tournaments during her 20-year career. In that time, Mann averaged nearly two tournament victories a year, winning 38 LPGA Tour events in total, including two majors. That impressive tally of victories ranks her 12th all time.

21. Lydia Ko (2013-Present)

The youngest player to crack our list, and the first of several players from South Korea, Lydia Ko has already been etching her name in the LPGA Tour record books despite only joining in 2013. Since then, Ko has won 15 LPGA Tour events, including two majors, and has shown how lucrative women’s golf can be for a great player. It took her only 15 months to earn $3 million in winnings and a little over four years to earn $9 million — both are all-time speed records for reaching those plateaus.

The 2015 LPGA Tour Player of the Year also made history that year when she became the youngest golfer of any gender to be ranked No. 1 in the world, doing so at 17 years and 9 months old.

20. Yani Tseng (2008-Present)

Since joining the LPGA Tour in 2008 at the age of 19, Yani Tseng has had a remarkable run of success at the top level of women’s golf. The Taiwan native has won 15 LPGA events, with a third of those victories coming at the biggest tournaments. In 2011, she became the youngest golfer of any gender to win five majors, doing so before she even turned 22. After that, she was the game’s player to beat, holding the world’s No. 1 ranking for 109 consecutive weeks from 2011-2013.

19. Amy Alcott (1975-2008)

Missouri’s own Amy Alcott had a long career on the LPGA Tour but was at her height in the 1980s, when she was one of the best golfers in the sport. The Vare Trophy winner in 1980 won five majors and had two second-place finishes at the Women’s PGA Championship that kept her from completing the career grand slam. Those big victories are included among Alcott’s 29 total LPGA Tour wins, which put her at 18th all time.

18. Patty Sheehan (1980-2006)

One of Amy Alcott’s chief rivals was Patty Sheehan, a Vermont-born pro who would land in the World Golf Hall of Fame. In the mid-1980s, Sheehan was the player to beat, being named the LPGA Tour Player of the Year in 1983 and winning the Vare Trophy in 1984. From 1983-1996, she won six majors and finished second at the 1990 Canadian Women’s Open, which was the only major during that era she didn’t win. Sheehan won a total of 35 LPGA Tour events in her long career, placing her 13th on the all-time list.

17. Sandra Haynie (1961-1989)

In 1970, Texan Sandra Haynie became the first player not named Kathy Whitworth to win the still-new LPGA Tour Player of the Year honor. She carved out her own path filled with victories despite starting her career in a decade dominated by other players. Haynie won 42 LPGA Tour events, which puts her in the all-time top 10. Among those victories were four majors spread across three decades showing that she knew how to stay in top form for the long haul, unlike many great players in this sport.

16. Pat Bradley (1974-1995)

Pat Bradley’s 1986 season is arguably the most dominant single year of golf the LPGA Tour has ever seen from one player. In those 12 months alone, Bradley did things many golfers never do in a career, including winning five tournaments, three majors, earning the Vare Trophy and being named the LPGA Tour Player of the Year. No other player in LPGA Tour history has won more than three majors in a single year, making Bradley’s achievement still a high-water mark.

But she was far from a one-year wonder, as the Massachusetts native would win 31 total LPGA Tour events and six majors, including the career grand slam during the era where there were only four majors.

15. Juli Inkster (1983-2019)

Longevity was the key word in describing Juli Inkster’s remarkable LPGA Tour career. She won seven total majors from 1984-2002, becoming the only player in Tour history to win two majors in three consecutive decades. The fact that she was whipping golfers who were 20 years her junior toward the end of her run is the type of story every sports fan loves to see. In addition to completing the career grand slam, the Californian won 31 total LPGA Tour events and racked up $14 million in winnings, which is the seventh-best total ever.

14. Betsy King (1977-2005)

When Betsy King was first getting started, LPGA Tour events didn’t pay quite as much as they do now, but she managed to make good money by being consistently great for decades. From 1984-2004, King earned at least $100,000 in winnings every season, which is the longest such streak in Tour history. Those earnings came from 34 career LPGA Tour wins, including six majors. The Pennsylvania native was named LPGA Tour Player of the Year three times and won the coveted Vare Trophy twice.

13. Nancy Lopez (1977-2008)

California’s Nancy Lopez finished in the top three an excruciating eight times at the three major tournaments she never won, but she did take home the trophy three times at the Women’s PGA Championship. She was one of the most consistent winners the Tour has ever seen, even with all those close calls on the leaderboard at the biggest tournaments. Lopez won a total of 48 LPGA Tour events, which ranks her seventh in history.

For definitive proof of how much better she was than many of her opponents at the time, consider the fact that she was named the LPGA Tour Player of the Year four times from 1978-1988 and won the Vare Trophy three times.

12. Betsy Rawls (1951-1975)

Considering there are only six players in history to have won at least 50 LPGA Tour events, making it above that threshold makes you one of the all-time greats. South Carolina’s Betsy Rawls won 55 LPGA tournaments in her career, which started when the league was still in its infancy. Included among that massive list of victories were eight majors. She never won LPGA Tour Player of the Year honors but earned the Vare Trophy in 1959 and led the Tour in money winnings twice.

11. JoAnne Carner (1970-2005)

Washington native JoAnne Carner was dominant through the 1970s and into the 1980s, despite the fact that her two major titles are paltry compared to others on this list. While she struggled to close the deal at the biggest events — including having at least seven second-place finishes at various majors — Carner was a constant winner elsewhere on the Tour, racking up 43 victories in her career. At the end of her career, Carner set an age-related record that may never be matched when she made the cut at the 2004 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship at 64 years old.

She won the Vare Trophy a remarkable five times, showing she could regularly outscore anyone in the game, and was named LPGA Tour Player of the Year three times.

10. Se-ri Pak (1998-2016)

One of the pioneers in a wave of South Korean women who have come to dominate the LPGA Tour in the past 20 years, Se-ri Pak left a big mark by the time she retired in 2016. She would win 25 Tour events, including five majors, both of which rank her among the all-time greats. Pak’s $12.5 million in career winnings put her ninth in LPGA Tour history, and that doesn’t even include the cash she got for winning 14 tournaments on the LPGA of Korea Tour.

The 2003 Vare Trophy winner was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.

9. Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1950-1956)

Not only one of the best golfers of all time, Babe Zaharias was also one of the best all-around athletes in American history. Before the LPGA Tour even existed, Zaharias won three medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics, including two golds. In 1935, this groundbreaker from Texas became the first woman to ever compete — and still the only one to ever make the cut — at a PGA Tour event.

When the LPGA Tour launched in 1950, Zaharias was a charter member and would dominate the entire first season. She would ultimately win 41 Tour events, including 10 majors, in a matter of just seven seasons. Her golf career ended in 1956 when she died at the age of 45 after a battle with cancer.

8. Louise Suggs (1950-1962)

Another charter member of the LPGA Tour, Louise Suggs helped set the bar for excellence very high for later players. She would win an incredible 61 events by the time she retired in 1962, which is the fourth-best total in history. Among that massive list of victories were 11 majors, which is the third-highest total for that category. Suggs won the Vare Trophy in 1957, and today the LPGA Tour honors her memory every year by handing out the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award to the best new golfer.

7. Lorena Ochoa (2003-2010)

Mexican star Lorena Ochoa was the best player in women’s golf in the mid-2000s, but her reign was ultimately way too short. From 2003-2010, Ochoa was virtually unstoppable, winning 27 LPGA Tour events, including two majors. The $14.86 million she earned places her fifth on the all-time money list, and the fact that she reached the $10 million threshold in just 4 years and 8 months is still a record. The $4.3 million she earned during the 2007 season is also still a single-season record.

The four-time LPGA Tour Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winner held the world’s No. 1 ranking for a record 158 consecutive weeks but ended the streak herself when she suddenly retired at the age of 28, still in her prime. Ochoa’s early exit represents arguably the biggest “What-If?” in women’s golf history as she easily could’ve been the best to ever play the game.

6. Patty Berg (1950-1962)

While Babe Zaharias and Louise Suggs were amazing players, Patty Berg was arguably the best of the LPGA Tour’s charter roster. If you measure greatness by how well a golfer does in the biggest tournaments, Berg was simply the best. The 15 majors she won are still the most ever and are among her 60 career LPGA Tour victories. She was consistently excellent on the course, becoming the first player to win the Vare Trophy when it debuted in 1953 and winning it three times in total before retiring in 1962.

5. Inbee Park (2007-Present)

Inbee Park is arguably the best player of the LPGA Tour’s current era and the best golfer South Korea has given us, which is really saying something. Park has been ranked the world’s top player at four different times since 2013 and has been a constant presence atop leaderboards. She’s won 20 LPGA Tour events so far, including an impressive seven majors, which is the sixth-highest total ever and the most of any player who’s not in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

In 2013, Park was so dominant that she won three of that year’s majors, becoming the only LPGA Tour player to do that since 1986. The two-time Vare Trophy winner is also fourth on the career money list, having raked in $15.6 million in winnings so far.

4. Karrie Webb (1996-Present)

Australia’s Karrie Webb won a ton of tournaments at a time when the LPGA Tour was getting more attention and attracting more diverse and talented players than ever. Her 41 career LPGA Tour victories are tied for 10th most in history and are the second most of any non-American player. She also won seven majors and completed the career grand slam in the era of four major tournaments. Webb broke up rival Annika Sörenstam’s iron grip on the LPGA Tour Player of the Year award by winning it in 1999 and 2000, and she also won the Vare Trophy three times.

The $20.2 million Webb has won on the Tour is the second-highest total in history.

3. Kathy Whitworth (1958-2005)

Yet another brilliant golfer from Texas, Kathy Whitworth holds arguably the most impressive LPGA Tour record that will likely never be touched. She won a total of 88 LPGA Tour events in her lengthy career — the victories all came from 1962-1985 — which is the most ever. Whitworth helped define women’s golf in the 1960s and was so dominant that she won the Vare Trophy a record seven times, which is also the number of times she was named LPGA Tour Player of the Year. Fittingly, Whitworth was the first player to win that award when it was introduced, and she won it every year but one from 1966-1973.

For as often as Whitworth won tournaments, she only won six majors, but her sheer amount of other victories made sure she was the first LPGA Tour player to top $1 million in winnings. Her 11 career holes-in-one are also a Tour record.

2. Mickey Wright (1955-1969)

The other pillar of the LPGA Tour in the 1960s, we are giving Mickey Wright the nod over her rival, Kathy Whitworth, because her career was more efficient and she was stellar on the biggest stages. The California native won 82 LPGA Tour events, which is second only to Whitworth, including an amazing 13 majors, which is also second all-time. Among Wright’s remarkable achievements on the Tour are the 13 events she won in 1963 (which is still a single-season record), the three majors she won in 1961 (tied as a single-season record) and the fact that she completed the career grand slam.

Wright would win the Vare Trophy five consecutive times from 1960-1964 and would retire in 1969 at the age of 34 as the greatest American player in LPGA Tour history.

1. Annika Sörenstam (1994-2008)

At the turn of the millennium, golf had two incredible stars at the top of the game: Tiger Woods on the men’s side and Annika Sörenstam on the women’s side. The Swedish sensation helped make the LPGA Tour into a global event and was as dominant as anyone the sport has ever seen. She won 72 events during her relatively short time on the Tour, the third-highest total ever, and was named LPGA Tour Player of the Year a record eight times in an era where the game was brutally competitive. She also won 10 majors, which is the best total for any player to have started their career since the 1990s.

Sörenstam is all over the LPGA Tour record books, including a -27 score at the 2001 J Golf Phoenix LPGA International, which stood as the best below-par score in Tour history for 15 years, and a string of seven consecutive $1 million seasons from 2000-2006, which is still a record. She took the women’s game to a new level of excellence by being the first LPGA Tour player to post an average score below 70 for an entire season (69.99 in 1998) and her average score of 68.70 for the 2002 season is still the best mark in history.

In 2003, Sörenstam inspired many young women to pick up golf clubs — and made many prominent men in the game lose their minds — when she played in a PGA Tour event and missed the cut by just four strokes. It was just another mark on an incredible career.