It took Betsy King a while to hit her stride on the LPGA Tour, going her first seven years without a victory. Once she came into her own, however, King needed only 12 productive years to put together Hall of Fame numbers.
King's lack of early success on Tour was a bit surprising in light of her amateur record. She finished eighth in the 1976 U.S. Women's Open as an amateur and led her Furman team to the national collegiate championship that year.
King ranked among the top 30 money winners five times in her first seven years on Tour, yet she couldn't find the winner's circle.
Finally, three years of work with instructor Ed Oldfield began to pay off. King not only scored her first victory in 1984, but she added two more that year and won the money title and Player of the Year honors.
King would again sweep those honors in 1989 and 1993, also claiming the Vare Trophy for low scoring average in 1987 and 1993. King won at least two tournaments every year from 1984-92, and she ranked among the top 10 money winners each year from 1984-95.
King won her first major title in the 1987 Nabisco Dinah Shore. She had her best year in 1989, winning six tournaments. The biggest was the U.S. Women's Open at Indianwood in Michigan, where King held or shared the lead after every round.
King won the Nabisco Dinah Shore and U.S. Women's Open a second time each in 1990. King's best performance came in the 1992 LPGA Championship, where she shot rounds of 68-66-67-66 for an LPGA Tour-record 267 total and an 11-stroke victory.
As King approached the 30-victory mark required for induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame, the wins became harder to achieve. She finished second five times in 1993 before scoring her only victory, the 29th of her career, in the season's final event.
After a winless 1994, King finally scored her 30th win in June 1995 at the ShopRite Classic. That year, she became the first LPGA player to pass the $5 million mark in career earnings.
Putting has not been King's strong suit. In 1995, for example, she led the LPGA Tour in birdies and top-10 finishes but failed to crack the top 40 in putting average.
For more information about golf, see:
- The Best Golfers of all Time
- How Golf Clubs Work