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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Reed match taught McIlroy the need to conserve energy

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:18 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – One of the most memorable Ryder Cup singles matches in recent history was also one of the most exhausting.

Rory McIlroy was asked on Wednesday at Le Golf National about his singles bout with Patrick Reed two years ago at Hazeltine National, when the duo combined for eight birdies and an eagle through eight frenzied holes.

“I could play it for nine holes, and then it suddenly hit me,” said McIlroy, who was 5 under through eight holes but played his final 10 holes in 2 over par. “The level sort of declined after that and sort of reached its crescendo on the eighth green, and the last 10 holes wasn't quite as good.”

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In retrospect McIlroy said the match, which he lost, 1 down, was educational and he realized that maintaining that level of emotion over 18 holes isn’t realistic.

“It looked tiring to have to play golf like that for three days,” he said. “I learnt a lot from that and learnt that it's good to get excited and it's good to have that, but at the same time, if I need and have to be called upon to play a late match on Sunday or whatever it is, I want to have all my energy in reserve so that I can give everything for 18 holes because I did hit a wall that back nine on Sunday, and it cost me.”

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U.S. team gives Tiger 'cold shoulder' after Tour Championship win

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:08 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods was one of the final members of Team USA to make it to the team room late Sunday in Atlanta after his travel plans were delayed by his victory at the Tour Championship.

As the team waited, captain Jim Furyk concocted a plan for Woods.

“I ran into Jim Furyk and he said, ‘We were thinking about giving Tiger the cold shoulder like they do in baseball when the guy hits his first home run.’ He asked, ‘Do you think Tiger will be OK with that?’” Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava told Ryder Cup Radio on Sirius/XM. “I was like, ‘Of course he would. He’s got a sense of humor.’”

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The U.S. team had plenty to cheer on Sunday with vice captain Steve Stricker also winning on the PGA Tour Champions. But it was Woods’ reception following his 80th PGA Tour victory and his first in five years that provided the best reaction.

“Tiger shows up about a half-hour later and is looking for some high-fives from everybody and they wouldn’t give him the time of day. They weren’t even looking at him, they all have their backs to him,” LaCava said. “He’s looking at me like what’s going on? He’s not a guy who is looking for fanfare, but these are his boys. He’s looking for 11 guys to run up and give him a good hug.”

LaCava said the team ignored Woods for about two minutes before breaking the silence with cheers and congratulations.

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How FedExCup has changed Ryder Cup prep

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 8:56 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The improved play of the U.S. Ryder Cup team might be attributed to more than just youthful exuberance or camaraderie.

Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour schedule is also a factor.

Mickelson argued this week that the advent of the FedExCup Playoffs, in 2007, has contributed to the Americans’ better results in the biennial matches. Save for the disastrous blowout in 2014 at Gleneagles, the Americans have either won or been locked in a tight match with the Europeans.

“I think the FedExCup is a big asset for us,” Mickelson said. “In the past, we’ve had six weeks off in between our last competition and the Ryder Cup. This year, although we might be tired, we might have had a long stretch, our games are much sharper because of our consistent play week-in and week-out heading into this event.”

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When presented with Mickelson’s theory, Justin Rose, the new FedExCup champion, countered by saying that the Europeans are the fresher team this week – and that could be more important during such a stressful event.

Seventeen of the 24 players here were in East Lake for the Tour Championship, meaning they not only played the minimum number of events for PGA Tour membership, but also played in at least three of the four playoff events.

Some of the European players, however, have remained loyal to their home tour and taken more time off. Henrik Stenson missed a few events to rest his ailing elbow. Sergio Garcia didn’t play for four weeks. And even Rose has adjusted his schedule during the latter part of the season, to make sure that he was as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup. That meant skipping the pro-am in Boston and flying in on Thursday night, on the eve of the tournament, and reducing his number of practice rounds.

“It’s interesting,” Rose said. “They might feel like they are playing their way in and our guys are going to have a bit of gas in the tank. We’ll have to evaluate it on Sunday, but I’m hoping our strategy is going to be the one that pays off in the long run.”

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Rose hoping for FedEx/Ryder Cup party on Sunday

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 8:41 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Justin Rose is hoping for the biggest party of all on Sunday night.

With the quick turnaround with the Ryder Cup, the newly crowned FedExCup champion hasn’t had much time to celebrate his season-long title that he earned Sunday at the Tour Championship.

“The FedExCup, for me, it finished on the plane,” Rose said Wednesday. “I enjoyed the plane ride over, but once I landed in Paris, I was one of 12 guys. I didn’t want it to carry over into this week. This week is about another job to do.”

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Rose said his Ryder Cup teammates have resorted to the usual tactics – “Apparently all the drinks are on my tab this week,” he joked – but just as Team USA may have used a boost with Tiger Woods winning, the Europeans can take confidence in having the FedExCup champion on their side.

As for any premature celebrations, Rose said: “I can shelve that for another week or so. I will certainly enjoy it. It’s kind of a season-long title that you really want to enjoy. But I’d like to maybe start that party on Sunday night and here for the right reasons, because of this week.”