BabeDidrikson Zaharias (June 26, 1911 – September 27, 1956) was an American female athlete who excelled in golf, basketball, baseball and track and field…..as she won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics…..after which she turned to professional golf….while winning 10 LPGA major championships…..and is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time…..which made her certainly one of the greatest female athletes in the history of sports.
Didrikson became America’s first female golf celebrity….and the leading player of the 1940’s and early 1950’s. In order to regain amateur status in the sport, she could compete in no other sports for three years. She gained back her amateur status in 1942…..and in 1945, she had participated in three more PGA Tour events….while missing the second cut of the first of them…..and making the cut of the other two….for as of 2018, she remains the only woman to have achieved this. Zaharias won the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 1947 British Ladies Amateur….while being the first American to do so….along with winning three Women’s Western Opens. Having formally turned professional in 1947, Didrikson dominated the Women’s Professional Golf Association and later the Ladies Professional Golf Association….of which she was a founding member. Serious illness ended her career in the mid-1950’s.
Zaharias won a tournament named after her….which was the Babe Zaharias Open of her hometown of Beaumont, Texas. She won the 1947 Titleholders Championship and the 1948 U.S. Women’s Open for her fourth and fifth major championships. She won 17 straight women’s amateur victories, a feat never equaled by anyone. By 1950, she had won every golf title available. Totaling both her amateur and professional victories, Zaharias won a total of 82 golf tournaments. Charles McGrath of The New York Times wrote of Zaharias, “Except perhaps for Arnold Palmer, no golfer has ever been more beloved by the gallery.”