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the youngest player ever to be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame
Nancy Lopez was born in Torrance, California, on January 6, 1957. Her father, who operated an auto body repair shop, bought her a set of golf clubs when she was eight years old. She won a Pee-Wee Tournament at age 9, and the state championship at age 10. Her father was so impressed with her playing that he dug a big hole in the back yard and filled it with sand so she could practice hitting out of a sand trap. The practice must have worked, because she won the USGA Junior Girls Championship twice (1972 and 1974), the Western Junior Championship three times, and was the Mexican Amateur Champion in 1975.
Because Goddard High School had no girls'golf team, Nancy played on the boys' team, and led it two state championships. In 1975 she entered the U.S. Women's Open as an amateur, and finished in a tie for second. Getting a scholarship to the University of Tulsa in 1976, she went on to claim the Intercollegiate Athletics for Women National Championship that same year; she was also named All-American and Female Athlete of the Year.
Lopez decided to leave college after her sophomore year and joined the LPGA Tour in 1977. She played in the last six tournaments of the season, and placed second in three of them. The following year she won nine tournaments, including a record five in a row. She was, not surprisingly, named the LPGA Rookie and Player of the Year for 1978, as well as the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. What's more, she also won the Vare Trophy for 1978, for having the lowest stroke average per round (71.76). She was subsequently named LPGA Player of the Year three more times (1979, 1985, and 1988), and became the youngest player ever to be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in 1989. By the time she retired at the end of the 2002 season she had amassed 48 wins (sixth all time) and had career earnings of $5,310,391 (twelfth all time). She was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 1998, and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
Since retiring from the circuit Lopez has concentrated on the Nancy Lopez Golf Comapny, which she founded in 1997. She also sponsors the Nancy Lopez Hospice Golf Classic, in Albany, Georgia, which benefits the Albany Community Hospice, as well as an annual tournament in Stockbridge to benefit Winshape, an organization that provides foster care to children.
Nancy Lopez married sportscaster Tim Melton in 1979. The couple divorced in 1982, and she married pro baseball player Ray Knight later that same year. Lopez and Knight had three daughters before divorcing in 2009.
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This page was last updated on September 25, 2017.