U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Women's History Month: 3-Time Women's Open Champ Zaharias
March 10, 2021 | Liberty Corner, N.J.
By David Shefter, USGA
As we celebrate National Women’s History Month, the USGA is highlighting five significant players who captured multiple U.S. Women’s Open titles. This week, it’s Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that Mildred Didrikson Zaharias was given the nickname “Babe” after hitting five home runs in a childhood baseball game. She went on to earn Olympic gold and golf stardom as perhaps the most heralded female athlete of the 20th century. The Associated Press named her its Athlete of the Year six times.
Zaharias excelled in every athletic endeavor imaginable from baseball and softball, to basketball, track and field, bowling, roller skating, diving and eventually golf.
Related Zaharias Videos On U.S. Women's Open Timeline
Zaharias captured a pair of gold medals and a silver in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, breaking the world record in the 80-meter hurdles (11.7 seconds). She is the only Olympic athlete – male or female – to win medals in running (hurdles), throwing (javelin) and jumping events (high jump).
Her athleticism made Zaharias a natural for golf. Eleven years after picking up the game, she won the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Three years later, she captured the first of three U.S. Women’s Open crowns. Her second U.S. Women’s Open title came in 1950, the same year she completed the then-Grand Slam of female majors that also included the Women’s Western Open and Titleholders.
Related Zaharias Photos On U.S. Women's Open Timeline
She saved her most emotional Women’s Open victory for the 1954 championship at Salem Country Club. One month after undergoing surgery for colon cancer, Zaharias claimed her 10th and final major championship, becoming, at age 43, the event’s oldest champion.
Zaharias died two years later of cancer, but not without cementing one of the greatest legacies in sports.