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Babe Zaharias wins in 1947...

Item # 575253

June 12, 1947

ELMIRA STAR-GAZETTE, New York, June 12, 1947 

* Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias
* Women's professional golf - British Open crown - 1st American to win

This 32 page newspaper has a two column headline on page 26: "British Women''s Golf Title Captured by Mrs. Zaharias" with photo (see photos).

Other news of the day throughout. Minor wear, otherwise in good condition.

wikipedia notes: Zaharias gained world fame in track and field and All-American status in basketball. She played organized baseball and softball and was an expert diver, roller-skater and bowler. She won two gold medals and one silver medal for track and field in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.[2]

Didrikson's first job was nominally as a secretary, for the Employers Casualty Insurance Co., of Dallas, Texas, in 1930. In fact, she was employed as a ruse for her to play basketball on one of the "industrial teams" in competitions organized by the Amateur Athletic Union. Despite leading the team to an AAU Basketball Championship in 1931, Didrikson first achieved wider attention as a track and field athlete. Representing her company in the 1932 AAU Championships, she entered eight events, winning five outright and tying first for a sixth. In the process, she set five world records in a single afternoon. Didrikson's performance was enough to win the team championship, despite being the only member of her team.

As the AAU Championships were the de facto US Olympic Trials, Didrikson qualified for the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She was limited to entering three events there, the javelin throw, the 80 m hurdles and the high jump. She nearly won all three events: she won gold medals in the javelin and hurdles and cleared the same height as compatriot Jean Shiley in the high jump (with whom she had tied in the AAU Championship). The jury, however, disapproved of her style (jumping over headfirst) and declared Shiley the Olympic champion. After the Games, Shiley and Didrikson split their medals.

By 1935, she picked up the sport of golf, a latecomer to the sport by which she would become most famous. Shortly thereafter, despite the brevity of her experience, she was denied amateur status, and so in January 1938 she competed in the Los Angeles Open, a men's PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) tournament, a feat no other woman would even try until Annika Sörenstam, Suzy Whaley, and Michelle Wie almost six decades later. She shot 81-84 and missed the cut. In the tournament, she was teamed with George Zaharias, a well-known professional wrestler and sports promoter generally billed as "The Crying Greek from Cripple Creek." They were married eleven months later on December 23, 1938 in St. Louis, and later lived in Tampa, Florida on the grounds of a golf course they bought in 1951.

Babe went on to become America's first female golf celebrity and the leading player of the 1940s and early 1950s. After winning back her amateur status in 1942, she won the 1946-47 United States Women's Amateur Golf Championships, as well as the 1947 British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship—the first American to do so—and three Western Open victories. Formally turning professional in 1947, she dominated the WPGA and later the LPGA, of which she was a founding member, until illness shortened her career in the mid-1950s.

Zaharias even won a tournament named after her, the Babe Zaharias Open 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 amateur victories, a feat never equaled by anyone, including Tiger Woods. 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.

Category: The 20th Century

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