Women's golf has a set of major championships which parallels that in men's golf, with the women's system newer and less stable than the men's. As of 2013, five tournaments are designated as majors in women's golf by the LPGA Tour.
The LPGA's list of majors has changed several times over the years. The two most recent changes were:
- In 2001, the du Maurier Classic, held in Canada, lost its primary sponsorship after that country passed severe restrictions on tobacco advertising. The tournament, now known as the Canadian Women's Open, is still a regular event on the LPGA Tour, but no longer designated as a major. The LPGA elevated the Women's British Open to major status to replace the du Maurier Classic.
- In 2013, The Evian Championship, held in France, became the fifth LPGA major. Known before 2013 as the Evian Masters, it is one of two events recognized as majors by the LPGA's European counterpart, the Ladies European Tour (LET). The elevation of this event to LPGA major status and the name change were announced by the LPGA on July 20, 2011.
As of 2019, the order in which women's majors are played:
- ANA Inspiration
- U.S. Women's Open
- Women's PGA Championship
- The Evian Championship
- Women's British Open
Before The Evian Championship became the fifth LPGA major, the setup of women's majors closely paralleled that of the mainstream (i.e., under-50) men's majors. In both cases, the United States hosts three majors and the United Kingdom one. The Evian Championship, as noted above, is held in France. The U.S. and British Opens, and the PGA Championship match their male equivalents. The ANA Inspiration is the first major of the season and is held at a single host course (the Mission Hills Country Club), similarly to the Masters Tournament.
Unlike the mainstream men's equivalents, all but one of the women's majors have title sponsors. Each of the five majors falls under a different jurisdiction. The LPGA organizes the ANA Inspiration. Through 2014, it also organized the LPGA Championship, but since 2015 that tournament has been taken over by the PGA of America, the body that organizes the men's PGA Championship, and has been renamed the Women's PGA Championship. The U.S. Women's Open, is operated by the United States Golf Association. The Women's British Open is operated by The R&A since a 2016 merger with the Ladies Golf Union. The Evian Championship is operated by the LET.
From 2006 through 2008, the winners of the four women's majors received automatic entry to the LPGA's season championship, the LPGA Tour Championship. Beginning in 2009, the Tour Championship extended entry to all players in the top 120 on the official LPGA Money List. Starting in 2011, the Tour Championship was replaced by the CME Group Titleholders; from that point through 2013, the top three finishers at all official tour events, including the majors, who had not already qualified for the Titleholders earned entries. Starting in 2014, the LPGA adopted a points race similar in some ways to the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup. In the new system, officially called the "Race to the CME Globe", the top 72 points earners during the season, plus all tournament winners, qualify for the renamed final event, the CME Group Tour Championship, in which the top nine points earners will have at least a mathematical chance of winning the season title.
Eight different events are classified as having been LPGA majors at some time. The number in each season has fluctuated between two and five. The first tournament which is now included in the LPGA's official list of major victories is the 1930 Women's Western Open, although this is a retrospective designation as the LPGA was not founded until 1950.·The Titleholders was played from 1937 to 1966 with a gap due to World War II. In 1967 there were three majors, then from 1968 to 1971 this decreased and went back to two majors. Then in 1979, the du Maurier Classic was first played and immediately considered a major leading to three majors again from 1979 to 1982. In 1983, when Nabisco Dinah Shore gained major championship status, there were four majors.
- Women's Western Open: 1930–1967
- Titleholders Championship: 1937–1942, 1946–1966, 1972
- U.S. Women's Open: 1946–present
- Women's PGA Championship: 1955–present (LPGA Championship, 1955–2014)
- du Maurier Classic: 1979–2000 (Peter Jackson Classic, 1979-1983)
- ANA Inspiration: 1983–present (Nabisco Dinah Shore, 1983–1999; Nabisco Championship, 2000–2001; Kraft Nabisco Championship, 2002–2014)
- Women's British Open: 2001–present
- The Evian Championship: 2013–present
LPGA major winners
The "Grand Slam"
During the four-major era, six women have completed a "Career Grand Slam" by winning four different majors . There are variations in the set of four tournaments involved as the players played in different eras. The six are: Pat Bradley; Juli Inkster; Annika Sörenstam; Louise Suggs; Karrie Webb; and Mickey Wright. During the five-major era, Inbee Park became the first woman to complete the "Career Grand Slam." Even though there has been some debate surrounding whether Park has actually accomplished this feat, as she won The Evian Championship in 2012 before it officially became a major in 2013, LPGA acknowledged Park to have successfully achieved a "Career Grand Slam." The LPGA recognizes Webb as its only "Super Career Grand Slam" winner, since she is the only golfer to have won five events recognized by the LPGA as majors. Before the elevation of The Evian Championship to major status, the following was required for a golfer to win the Super Career Grand Slam:
- The du Maurier Classic between 1979 and 2000, when it was recognized by the LPGA as a major;
- the Women's British Open in 2001 or later; and
- the other three then-existing majors.
Webb won the du Maurier Classic in 1999 and the Women's British Open in 2002.
Major champions by nationality
The table below shows the number of major championships won by golfers from various countries.
Consecutive victories at a major championship
|United States||Patty Berg||Titleholders Championship||3||1937, 1938, 1939|
|Sweden||Annika Sörenstam||LPGA Championship||3||2003, 2004, 2005|
|South Korea||Inbee Park||Women's PGA Championship||3||2013, 2014, 2015|
|United States||Opal Hill||Women's Western Open||2||1935, 1936|
|United States||Dorothy Kirby||Titleholders Championship||2||1941, 1942|
|United States||Babe Zaharias||Women's Western Open||2||1944, 1945|
|United States||Louise Suggs||Women's Western Open||2||1946, 1947|
|United States||Patty Berg||Women's Western Open||2||1957, 1958|
|United States||Mickey Wright||U.S. Women's Open||2||1958, 1959|
|United States||Mickey Wright||LPGA Championship||2||1960, 1961|
|United States||Mickey Wright||Titleholders Championship||2||1961, 1962|
|United States||Mickey Wright||Women's Western Open||2||1962, 1963|
|United States||Marilynn Smith||Titleholders Championship||2||1963, 1964|
|United States||Kathy Whitworth||Titleholders Championship||2||1965, 1966|
|United States||Donna Caponi||U.S. Women's Open||2||1969, 1970|
|United States||Susie Berning||U.S. Women's Open||2||1972, 1973|
|United States||Hollis Stacy||U.S. Women's Open||2||1977, 1978|
|United States||Patty Sheehan||LPGA Championship||2||1983, 1984|
|United States||Pat Bradley||du Maurier Classic||2||1985, 1986|
|United States||Betsy King||U.S. Women's Open||2||1989, 1990|
|Sweden||Annika Sörenstam||U.S. Women's Open||2||1995, 1996|
|United States||Juli Inkster||LPGA Championship||2||1999, 2000|
|Australia||Karrie Webb||U.S. Women's Open||2||2000, 2001|
|Sweden||Annika Sörenstam||Kraft Nabisco Championship||2||2001, 2002|
|Taiwan||Yani Tseng||Women's British Open||2||2010, 2011|
Multiple major victories in a calendar year
- 1950: Babe Zaharias; Women's Western Open, U.S. Women's Open, and Titleholders Championship
- 1961: Mickey Wright; LPGA Championship, U.S. Women's Open, and Titleholders Championship
- 1986: Pat Bradley; Kraft Nabisco Championship, LPGA Championship, du Maurier Classic
- 2013: Inbee Park; Kraft Nabisco Championship, LPGA Championship, U.S. Women's Open
Note: These golfers are also included below in the Two victories section.
ANA Inspiration and LPGA Championship
- 1986: Pat Bradley
- 2005: Annika Sörenstam
- 2013: Inbee Park
ANA Inspiration and The Evian Championship
ANA Inspiration and U.S. Women's Open
ANA Inspiration and Women's British Open
- 2010: Yani Tseng
LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open
- 1958: Mickey Wright
- 1961: Mickey Wright (2)
- 1974: Sandra Haynie
- 1991: Meg Mallon
- 1998: Se Ri Pak
- 1999: Juli Inkster
- 2001: Karrie Webb
- 2013: Inbee Park
LPGA Championship and Women's British Open
U.S. Women's Open and Women's British Open
- Never has occurred
ANA Inspiration and du Maurier Classic
LPGA Championship and du Maurier Classic
- 1986: Pat Bradley
- 1996: Laura Davies
U.S. Women's Open and du Maurier Classic
- Never occurred
Women's Western Open and LPGA Championship
Women's Western Open and U.S. Women's Open
- 1949: Louise Suggs
- 1950: Babe Zaharias
Women's Western Open and Titleholders Championship
- 1946: Louise Suggs
- 1948: Patty Berg
- 1950: Babe Zaharias
- 1955: Patty Berg
- 1957: Patty Berg
- 1962: Mickey Wright
LPGA Championship and Titleholders Championship
U.S. Women's Open and Titleholders Championship
The lowest score in relation to par recorded in a women's major championship was 21-under-par, by Chun In-gee at the 2016 Evian Championship. Chun also holds the record for lowest aggregate score for 72-holes, at 263, for her performance at that tournament. The single round scoring record is 61 by Kim Hyo-joo at the 2014 Evian Championship. A score of 62 has been shot by Minea Blomqvist at the 2004 Women's British Open (third round), Lorena Ochoa at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship (first round), and Mirim Lee at the 2016 Women's British Open (first round).
Rolex Annika Major Award
In 2014, the LPGA established the yearly Rolex Annika Major Award to recognize the overall best performance in the LPGA majors. Points are award for top-10 finishes in each major: 60 points for first place, 24 for second, down to 2 points for tenth place. The major winner with the most points at the end of the season wins the award. It is named after Annika Sörenstam.
|2014||Michelle Wie||United States||84|||
|2015||Inbee Park||South Korea||144|||
|2016||Lydia Ko||New Zealand||102|||
|2017||Ryu So-yeon||South Korea||78|||
|2019||Ko Jin-young||South Korea||138|||
Other regular tours
In men's (non-senior) golf, the four majors are agreed globally. All the principal tours acknowledge the status of the majors via their sponsorship of the Official World Golf Ranking, and the prize money is official on the three richest regular tours (the PGA, European, and Japanese tours). This is not the case in women's golf, but the significance of this is limited, as the LPGA Tour is much more dominant in women's golf than the PGA Tour is in men's golf. For example, the BBC has been known to use the LPGA definition of women's majors without qualifying it. Also, before the Evian Masters was elevated to major status, the Ladies' Golf Union, the governing body for women's golf in the UK and Republic of Ireland and the organiser of the Women's British Open, stated on its official site that the Women's British Open is "the only Women's Major to be played outside the U.S."
The Ladies European Tour does not sanction any of the LPGA majors which are played in the United States, and only has two events which it designates as majors on its schedule, namely the Women's British Open and The Evian Championship (historically the Evian Masters), which is played in France. The Ladies European Tour had long tacitly acknowledged the dominance of the LPGA Tour by not scheduling any of its events to conflict with any of the LPGA majors played in the U.S., but that changed slightly in 2008 when the LET scheduled a tournament opposite the LPGA Championship. Also, while the LPGA Tour did not recognize the then-Evian Masters as a major until 2013, it began co-sanctioning the tournament as a regular tour event in 2000. Because it was played the week before the Women's British Open (except in 2012, when the latter event was moved to September to avoid conflict with the London Olympics), and the purse was (and remains) one of the largest on the LPGA Tour, virtually all top LPGA players played the Evian Masters before its elevation to major status. The Evian Championship has now moved to September. (During the 2006–08 period, its winner also received an automatic berth in the LPGA Tour Championship.)
The LPGA of Japan Tour, which is the second richest women's golf tour, has its own set of four majors: the World Ladies, the Japan Open, the JLPGA Championship and the JLPGA Tour Championship. However, these events attract little notice outside Japan, and to a lesser degree South Korea (since a number of Koreans now play on the Japan tour).
Since 2006, the Symetra Tour, the LPGA's developmental tour known through 2011 as the Futures Tour, has designated the Tate & Lyle Players Championship, an event which has been held since 1985, as a major championship. It was the Tour's first $100,000 purse.
Women's senior golf
Professional women's senior golf is in its infancy, and does not yet have a roster of majors. The Legends Tour, originally the Women's Senior Golf Tour, played its first season in 2001.
Notes and references
- "LPGA Adds The Evian as a Major Championship in 2013" (Press release). LPGA. July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
- "PGA of America, LPGA, KPMG join forces for KPMG Women's PGA Championship". PGA of America. May 29, 2014.
- LPGA Major Championship Winners
- "The Long, Strange Trip of Major Championships in Women's Golf". Retrieved October 2, 2016.
- "Evian Championship canceled in France due to uncertainty of borders reopening". ESPN. Associated Press. June 9, 2019.
- Order in 2014: Kraft Nabisco, U.S. Open, British Open, LPGA Championship, Evian
- Order in 2013: Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship, U.S. Open, British Open, Evian
- "Countdown to the Hall - Inbee Park Achieves Career Grand Slam at RICOH Women's British Open". LPGA.
- "Inbee Park's Women's British Open win sparks 'career grand slam' debate". SB Nation.
- "In Gee Chun finishes at 21 under for lowest 72-hole score in a major". ESPN. Associated Press. 19 September 2016.
- "Rolex Annika Major Award – Structure 2014". LPGA. April 4, 2014.
- Mell, Randall (September 14, 2014). "Wie wins inaugural Annika Major Award". Golf Channel.
- "Inbee Park Presented with the 2015 Rolex Annika Major Award". LPGA. September 12, 2015.
- "Lydia Ko Wins 2016 Rolex Annika Major Award". LPGA. September 18, 2016.
- Mell, Randall (September 17, 2017). "ANA winner Ryu takes Annika Major Award". Golf Channel.
- "Ariya Jutanugarn Wins 2018 Rolex Annika Major Award". LPGA. September 17, 2018.
- "Jin Young Ko Wins 2019 Rolex ANNIKA Major Award". LPGA. August 4, 2019.
- "Women's British Open breaks new ground at St Andrews". Ladies' Golf Union. Retrieved April 1, 2007.