Nancy Lopez: Little Greatness before Me

Nancy Lopez, a 21-year-old tour rookie, won the first of her three major titles, all at the LPGA Championship. She finished at 275 (−13), six strokes ahead of runner-up Amy Alcott and 11 strokes ahead of Sally Little. At that event I remember looking into Sally’s eyes and all I remember was and actually saying to myself: “here is greatness before me waiting for her turn to win” Sally Little always looked hungry and like a predator, she studied our every move on the course and it was as if she took her time to know her opponent before she would eventually win.

Women's Tournament PlayI was on a roll and it was my sixth tour win and my fourth consecutive in 1978. I went on the following week to run the streak of wins to five.

It was in 1980,  26th LPGA Championship, which was played in June 5–8 at Jack Nicklaus Golf Center at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, when Sally Little revealed her greatness as an all-time professional golfer. Sally little won the first of her two major titles, three strokes ahead of runner-up Jane Blalock. I remember reading the following remarks in the newspaper: “I’ve achieved one of those Little goals I set for myself and I’ve gained confidence within.” She said, ”I love the game and for people to recognize me as playing well can only make me feel good.”

One particular response from Sally regarding her style of play was: “Don’t keep changing your game too much, I became so conscious of the stroke and that makes you tight. You get a little bit tense, when you relaxed with your putter you don’t have to pray for a miracle to happen.”

Although I was not playing that weekend when she won her first Women’s PGA Championship, we all celebrated her success as players and as friends of Sally Little.

Sun International

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