Hall of Famer, LPGA founder Suggs dies at 91

By Randall MellAugust 7, 2015, 9:29 pm

Louise Suggs, one of the giant talents and mighty spirits in women’s golf, died Friday. She was 91.

The winner of 61 LPGA titles, 11 of them major championships, Suggs was more than one of the greatest players in the history of the women’s game. She was one of its most important pioneers, a leader whose strong will was instrumental in laying the foundation of women’s professional golf.

One of the LPGA’s original 13 founders, Suggs helped create the tour in 1950 and was one of the six inaugural inductees into the LPGA Hall of Fame. She served as the LPGA president from 1955-57. The LPGA’s Rookie of the Year Award is named after her.

The honors kept rolling in for Suggs, long after she retired from the game. Earlier this year, she was named one of the first seven women the Royal & Ancient Golf Club admitted as members, ending that organization’s 260 years of exclusive male membership.

An LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer, Suggs died from complications of melanoma, Golf Digest reported.

Photos: Louise Suggs through the years

Born Mae Louise Suggs in Atlanta on Sept. 7, 1923, she started playing golf at 10 years old when her father first put a club in her hands. Her father, John, was a former pitcher for the New York Yankees who built, owned and managed a golf course in Lithia Springs, Ga.

“By the time I was 15 years old, I had gone slightly nutty about golf and was spending every minute on the golf course,” Suggs once said.

By 16, Suggs was the Georgia State Amateur champion. She would go on to dominate the women’s amateur ranks, garnering much attention in 1946 when she won the Titleholders and the Western Women’s Open, both of which were considered major championships at the time. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1947 and the British Ladies Amateur in ’48 before turning pro.

As feisty as she was skilled, Suggs made an impression just about wherever she played.

Ben Hogan marveled watching her play as his teammate in a “Pro-Lady” event before the Chicago Victory Open in in 1945.

“A model for any other woman aspiring to ideal golf form,” Hogan once wrote.

Sam Snead fumed after Suggs won the Royal Poinciana Invitational at the Palm Beach Golf Club’s par-3 course in 1961, beating a dozen male pros that included Snead. She did so from the same set of tees the men played.

“He didn’t like it very much,” Suggs once said. “He burned rubber on his car leaving the parking lot.”

Suggs’ peers were often bowled over by her competitive spirit.

“Louise was definitely one of the greats,” Betsy Rawls once said. “She had tremendous drive and was almost neurotic, like most of our great players who seemed to have a lot to prove. Winning was everything to her, and like Mickey Wright and Patty Berg, she couldn’t tolerate losing.”

Bob Hope, the actor/comedian, had a special name for Suggs. He called her “Miss Sluggs” after watching her slam long drives in an exhibition while playing alongside her.

One of the early stars of women’s golf, Suggs won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1949 by 14 shots. Babe Zaharias, who was Suggs’ bitter rival, was runner up. The margin of victory remains a U.S. Women’s Open record.

“Babe was a little upset after that,” Suggs said years later. “She said, ‘Are you sure you counted all your strokes?’ Oh, I did.”


Louise Suggs with Stacy Lewis during the 2013 LPGA Founders Cup. (Getty Images)

Suggs won the U.S. Women’s Open again in 1952, that time by seven shots.

“When I had someone down, I put my foot on her throat,” Suggs said.

Suggs named a beloved poodle “Damit” and used to drive a car with a specialty license plate that read: “Teed Off.” The feistiness evident captured the nature of the spirit that helped Suggs battle Zaharias and Berg in the LPGA’s early years.

“Someone once asked me whether Babe, Patty and I got together to figure out who was going to win each week,” Suggs once said. “My answer was, ‘Have you ever seen three cats fight over a plate of fish?’”

Suggs and Zaharias, the most famous female athlete of the time, were two of the greatest rivals in the history of women’s golf.

“I don’t think I ever got the recognition I deserved because of her,” Suggs said upon being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1979. “She was so flamboyant, she put pressure on me. She was all fire and fall back and flail at it and grunt. But she was spectacular ... Course, I never had any trouble with Babe. She just spoke her mind and I’d speak mine and we’d go our way.”

As competitive as they were, Suggs, Zaharias and Berg teamed together to help build the LPGA. They barnstormed across the country from one golf tournament to the next, unsure what their future held. The founders did just about everything getting tournaments set up, from marking hazards, setting hole locations and managing pairings to scorekeeping. They did their own marketing, too, putting on teaching clinics and making appearances at everything from local minor league baseball games to local civic organization meetings.

“The girls on tour now, they don’t have any idea how hard it was,” Suggs once said.

Suggs’ 61 career LPGA titles rank fourth on the all-time list behind Kathy Whitworth (88), Mickey Wright (82) and Annika Sorenstam (72). Patty Berg  has 60 wins. Her 11 major championship titles rank third behind Berg (15) and Wright (13). Suggs won eight LPGA titles in 1953 and was the tour’s leading money winner that year. She also won the tour’s money title in 1960 and claimed the Vare Trophy for low scoring average in 1957.

Having grown up in Atlanta, Suggs used to watch fellow Georgian Bobby Jones practice. She said it helped her try to absorb his rhythm. Hogan noticed after playing with Suggs in that Pro-Lady event Chicago.

“The swing she showed in 1945 was a beautiful thing – so smooth and rhythmic, so soundly joined together – she was bound to be a winner,” Hogan once wrote.

Suggs won as much for every woman playing professional golf today as she won for herself with her devotion to building the LPGA and women’s professional golf.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.