The Top 50 Women Golfers of All Time

Annika Sorenstam at the 2006 HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship
Annika Sorenstam, one of the greatest female golfers of all-time. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Who are the best female golfers of all time? Below is our ranking of the Top 50, starting with No. 50 and counting down to No. 1.

Our rankings include some golfers who are still active on the LPGA Tour, including a few who are still in their 20s. We've tried to be cautious about how high we ranked such youngsters, but, hey, if the numbers warrant it ...

One thing that might strike some readers about our Top 50 rankings is that the earliest stars of women's professional golf appear a little lower in our rankings than in some other, similar rankings of women golf greats. Why is that? Louise Suggs, one of those early stars, once explained it pretty well herself: "Our fields were filled out with local amateurs, because that was the only way to build a tournament. We had maybe 15, 20 pros and that's it."

The LPGA has seen much greater depth and competitiveness with each succeeding generation of golfers. That's why the farther back you go in women's golf (and men's, albeit not to the same extent), you have to apply a bit of discount to the numbers. Still, we've included plenty of those early stars (including a few you might not have heard of) in our Top 50.

On with the rankings ...

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Dorothy Campbell

Golfer Dorothy Campbell photographed in the early 1900s.
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Campbell was the first international star of women's golf. Playing in an era decades before women's professional golf even existed, Campbell won four combined British and U.S. amateur championships from 1909 to 1911, then left golf for nearly a decade to focus on married life. When she returned, she discovered the game had passed by her quirky swing. Campbell, near 40, completely rebuilt her grip and swing over 10 months, then went out and won another U.S. Women's Amateur in 1924. Campbell is still regarded by golf historians as having one of the all-time great short games. 

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Liselotte Neumann

Before Annika Sorenstam became the LPGA's greatest Swedish player, Liselotte Neumann held that distinction. Neumann's first LPGA victory was the 1988 U.S. Women's Open. She won 12 more times on the LPGA, and posted numerous victories in Europe, Japan, Australia and elsewhere.

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Paula Creamer

Following a stellar junior golf career, Creamer burst onto the LPGA scene as its 18-year-old rookie of the year in 2005. She won eight times between then and 2008, including four LPGA wins in 2008. Then came the 2010 U.S. Women's Open victory. Injuries slowed her down after that, but Creamer added career LPGA win No. 10 in 2014. She also has won a couple times on the Japan Tour.

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Beverly Hanson

Hanson won the 1950 U.S. Women's Amateur, then was a consistent winner in the first decade of the LPGA Tour's history. She finished with 17 career wins, three of which were major championships. In 1958, Hanson led the tour in money and in scoring average.

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Rosie Jones

Jones was a hallmark of consistency and competitiveness throughout her career, and she got better as she got older. Her best seasons were from 1999 to 2003, in her 40s. Jones finished with 13 victories and a reputation as one of the finest at course management.

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Lydia Ko

Lydia Ko arriving at the 2017 LPGA Rolex Players Awards
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Born in 1997, Ko is easily the youngest golfer on this list. One could argue that she qualified for the Top 50 before even turning 20 years old. Ko holds the LPGA records for youngest tour winner (age 15, when she was still an amateur) and youngest major championship winner (age 18). Through the end of the 2017 season, Ko already had 14 LPGA wins, a Player of the Year award, led the tour in money and won the CME Race to the Globe points chase twice.

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Suzann Pettersen

Pettersen seems to always be in the mix, and has numerous top finishes in majors. Two of those are victories, including one at the LPGA Championship and also in 2013 at the Evian Championship in its first year after elevation to major status. Overall, through the 2017 year,  Pettersen had 15 wins in LPGA events plus more than a half-dozen in Europe.. 

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Yani Tseng

Tseng hasn't won on the LPGA Tour since 2012, and hasn't won anywhere else since 2014. And if she never wins again, she may drop off our Top 50 at some point. But before her game went into a tailspin, Tseng was a dominant golfer. She won the 2011 LPGA Championship for her fourth career major at the tender age of 22. Major win No. 5 came at the Women's British Open that year. Tseng has 15 career LPGA wins, plus another dozen on other world tours.

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Stacy Lewis

Stacy Lewis during the 2015 ANA Inspiration tournament
Stacy Lewis is a fast-riser in our Top 50 Female Golfers of All-Time rankings. Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Lewis was a model of consistency in the early 2010s: Her first win in 2011, four in 2012, three each in 2013 and 2014. With a scoring title and two Player of the Year awards, Lewis forced her way into our rankings. Lewis has 12 career LPGA wins so far.

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Jiyai Shin

Shin has one of the most unusual careers in our rankings. Before she was 25 years, Shin compiled 10 LPGA Tour wins, including two majors (the 2008 and 2012 Women's British Opens). Then she quit the LPGA Tour to play in Japan, closer to her Korean home. She doesn't even play most of the majors anymore. Before joining the LPGA she won more than 20 times on the KLPGA. After quitting the LPGA, she continued winning in Japan and now has double-digit victories on the JLPGA. 

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Chako Higuchi

The force behind the creation of the Japan LPGA and whose star power helped that tour survive and thrive in its early years, Higuchi was the first Japanese player to win a major championship. She dominated in Japan but played sparingly in the United States, but still finished as high as 10th on the LPGA money list. She did win two LPGA tournaments, including the 1977 LPGA Championship. Higuchi is credited with 69 wins on the JLPGA.

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Betty Jameson

Jameson was a force in the pre-LPGA Tour era of women's golf, winning two U.S. Amateurs, the Women's Western Open (a major of its time), and the U.S. Women's Open prior to 1948. Jameson was the first female golfer to score under 300 in a 72-hole tournament, doing so at the 1947 U.S. Women's Open that she won. She later added the 1954 Women's Western Open title.

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Marilynn Smith

Smith, known as "Miss Personality," worked tirelessly to promote women's golf during her long career. She must have worked pretty hard at her game, too. Her first LPGA Tour win was in 1954, and her last was in 1972. In between were 19 other victories and a pair of majors. Smith also has the distinction of scoring the first double eagle in LPGA history. 

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Marlene Hagge

Very similar to Marilynn Smith in the scope of her career. As 16-year-old Marlene Bauer in 1950, she was one of the founders of the LPGA Tour. She played competitively in each of the Tour's first five decades. And Hagge posted 26 victories including one major championship.

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Glenna Collett Vare

Golfer Glenna Collett Vare pictured in 1925.
Kirby/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The greatest female American amateur golfer, Vare was often called "the female Bobby Jones" in her day. A great driver and a great sportsman, in 1924 she won 59 of 60 matches played. She is the only six-time winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur. The LPGA Tour's Vare Trophy for low scoring average is named in her honor.

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Susie Berning

Susie Maxwell Berning, more than any other great female player, restricted her tournament schedule to focus more on family. Only four times in her career did she play in 20 or more tournaments in a season. So her win total — 11 — seems low. But four of those 11 were majors, including three U.S. Women's Opens (1968, 1972, 1973). 

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Ayako Okamoto

Okamoto followed a few years behind Chako Higuchi on the Japan LPGA. While Higuchi did something Okamoto didn't — win a major — Okamoto did something Higuchi didn't: play full-time on the American LPGA. Okamoto's years in America were productive ones, too, as they included 17 victories, plus, in 1987, a money title and a Player of the Year award. On the JLPGA, Okamoto won 44 times.

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Sally Little

Little is one of several golfers in the Top 50 whose careers might have been even better had injury not affected them. In Little's case, she won 12 times in four years from 1979 through 1982, then underwent two major surgeries and won only once more. That one additional victory, however, was the 1988 du Maurier Classic, one of her two major championships.

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Cristie Kerr

The 2007 U.S. Women's Open was Kerr's first win in a major, and got her into double-digits for total LPGA Tour wins. A consistent performer in an ultra-competitive era, in 2010, she added her second major at the LPGA Championship. By the end of the 2017 season, Kerr's LPGA win total stood at 20.

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Jan Stephenson

Golfer Jan Stephenson's swing in 1983
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Her reputation as the Tour's sexy glamour girl often overshadowed how good Stephenson's golf was. She was a consistent threat at the top of the leaderboard through much of her career, winning 16 times. Included in those LPGA wins were three major championship titles, one of which was the 1983 U.S. Women's Open.

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Sandra Palmer

Palmer was at her best in the early to mid-1970s, winning the money title and Player of the Year award in 1975. Palmer went seven years without winning after first joining the Tour, then won at least once in each of the following seven seasons. She was in the Top 10 on the money list every year from 1968 through 1977 and finished with 19 wins on Tour, two of which were majors (including the 1975 U.S. Women's Open). If you're wondering, no, she's not related to Arnold Palmer.

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Jane Blalock

She won early and she won often. She won in 1970 and she won in 1985. She won four times in a year four different years. She finished in the Top 10 on the money list 10 straight years and 11 total. What Blalock never did was win a major championship, nor a major award (Player of the Year, money title, scoring title). Her 27 wins are the most by any LPGA Tour player without a major.

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Inbee Park

Park, through the end of the 2017 schedule, already had 18 LPGA wins. That number doesn't rank her all that high on the list of golfers with the most LPGA wins. But seven of those 18 wins are majors, and that ties Park for seventh place on the list of golfers with the most LPGA major wins. In 2013, Park won the first three majors of the year, the first LPGA golfer in the modern era to do so. Park was also the first Korean golfer to win the LPGA's Player of the Year award. Park has talked about retiring soon to start a family, so whether she keeps moving up this ranking depends on how many years she continues to play. We're ranking her conservatively, for now.

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Hollis Stacy

Stacy was never a dominant player — she finished in the Top 10 on the money list only five times in a career that stretched from 1976 to 2000 — but she was always a dangerous one. Especially when the stakes were high. Stacy won the U.S. Women's Open three times, and added a fourth major among her 18 total wins.

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Donna Caponi

Golfer Donna Caponi in 1980
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Caponi's career had a bit of an odd trajectory. But the end result was 24 wins and four majors. She won majors in 1969 and 1970, then cooled off, then 10 years later won more majors. Caponi won 10 times total in 1980-81, then never won again.

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Meg Mallon

Like Hollis Stacy, Meg Mallon has 18 wins and four majors. But Mallon posted those titles in a career that spanned a slightly later time period on the LPGA Tour (and slightly later means slightly more depth on Tour), was better longer, and was better at her best compared to Stacy. Mallon's first LPGA win was in 1991, her last in 2004.

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Dottie Pepper

She won two majors, but Pepper's career victory total of 17 is the lowest of any golfer in our Top 25. So her career value is below anyone ranked ahead of her, and several of those ranked behind her. But her peak value was very high. From 1991-96, Pepper finished no lower than fifth on the money list and won 12 times. In 1992, she led in money and scoring and was Player of the Year. Pepper is another player whose career was first impacted, then ended early, by injuries.

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Laura Davies

Twenty career wins on the LPGA Tour, four majors, around 30 wins on other tours, an LPGA money title, an LPGA Player of the Year award, and several Ladies European Tour money titles. That's a good career. Davies' very first LPGA win was the 1987 U.S. Women's Open, a victory that caused the LPGA to amend tour rules in order to grant membership to Davies.

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Lorena Ochoa

A 27-time winner, Ochoa had a breakout year in 2006 that followed on the heels of several seasons of consistent Top 10 play. A birdie machine, Ochoa set the LPGA record for most birdies in a year in 2004. In 2006, she won six times, ended Annika Sorenstam's 5-year run atop the money list, and won the Vare Trophy with the fourth-lowest scoring average in Tour history. And she earned Player of the Year honors. She won her first major at the 2007 Women's British Open. When she announced her retirement in 2010, Ochoa had won three money titles, four scoring titles and four Player of the Year awards. Her career was brief, but it was brilliant.

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Joyce Wethered

Golfer Joyce Wethered in 1925
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Wethered was the greatest female golfer of the pre-World War II era. Many rank Glenna Collett Vare ahead of her, but Wethered was the better player based on results and what her contemporaries said about her. The results: Vare and Wethered met in competition three times, and Wethered won all three times. The testimonials: Among others, Bobby Jones said he felt "outclassed" by Wethered's ballstriking. Her career was short, but dominating. She also ranks as one of the all-time best with a driver. 

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Judy Rankin

Rankin is the greatest player in golf history — male or female — without a major championship victory. She won one fewer times than Jane Blalock, also without a major, but she accomplished more overall and had a higher peak value than Blalock. Blalock never won a money title; Rankin won two. Blalock never won a scoring title; Rankin won three. Blalock never was Player of the Year; Rankin was, twice. Rankin, whose wins happened from 1968 through 1979, once finished in the Top 10 25 times in a single season. And she did it all while fighting terrible, chronic back pain during her best years that eventually forced her out of golf. With a better back and more time, Rankin might have wound up in the Top 10 on this list. But it's what she did — not what she might have done — that lands her at No. 20.

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Carol Mann

Mann won 38 times in her LPGA career, including 10 times in one year (1968). She's one of several golfers on this list (leading all the way up to Nancy Lopez) who won fewer majors than one would expect — just two. But the LPGA Tour did have many years in Mann's career when there were only two majors, or three, per season, rather than today's five. Mann won the tour's scoring title in 1968 and its money title in 1969.

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Se Ri Pak

She opened the door for the Korean influx to the LPGA Tour, and what a worthy pioneer Pak has turned out to be: 25 wins, five majors, a scoring title. Nearly all of those wins happened in just six seasons following her 2-major-wins rookie season of 1998. Pak was later beset by nagging injuries, won only once after 2007 and retired in 2016.

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Beth Daniel

You can make a case that out of all her great contemporaries — Bradley, Sheehan, King, Inkster, Alcott — Daniel had the most pure talent. She won money titles, scoring titles, Player of the Year awards, and tournaments, 33 of them on the LPGA Tour. What she didn't win was multiple majors. Those others players we mentioned each won at least five majors.

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Betsy Rawls

Betsy Rawls with the trophy after winning the 1957 US Women's Open.
Bettmann/Getty Images

One of the Big Four (along with Berg, Suggs and the Babe) in the early days of the LPGA Tour, Rawls was competitive longer than any of the others, not winning her final major until 1969. She finished with 55 LPGA Tour victories, including eight majors (four of them U.S. Women's Open titles).

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Amy Alcott

Beginning in the mid-to-late 1970s, the LPGA Tour took a major leap forward in depth and overall competitiveness. And Alcott was one of the players who ushered in that era. She started winning in 1975 and kept winning through the 1991 Nabisco Dinah Shore, the last of her 29 LPGA wins and five major championship wins. Among her other major wins was the 1980 U.S. Women's Open. And Alcott has the distinction of being the golfer who initiated the Champion's Leap into the pond at the major now called the ANA Inspiration.

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Sandra Haynie

Forty-two wins, four majors in a career that stretched from 1961 to 1990. Hard to argue with that. Haynie would be much better remembered today as one of the all-time greats had she not had the misfortune of having most of her best years overshadowed by the juggernaut known as Kathy Whitworth. 

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Juli Inkster

Inkster is a difficult player to firmly place on this list. Among her top contemporaries (Sheehan, Bradley, Alcott, Daniel, Lopez, King), Inkster was easily the most inconsistent. Her 31 wins are in line with the others' win totals (except Lopez's 48), but she didn't contend week-in-and-week-out, and had the fewest Top 10  finishes. Inkster never won a money title, scoring title, or Player of the Year award. But she does have seven majors — more than any of those other golfers. And Inkster has some great extra credit: three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur championships.

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Louise Suggs

The big-hitting "Miss Sluggs" posted 58 wins and 11 major championships, plus wins at the U.S. and British amateurs. Most of those wins came in the first decade of the LPGA's existence, and some of the before the LPGA came along. Suggs was often overshadowed in her own time by Babe Zaharias, creating a rivalry that wasn't always friendly. Today, the LPGA's award for top rookie is officially named the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award.

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Patty Sheehan

Golfer Patty Sheehan in 1989
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Like Inkster, Sheehan never won a money title. Unlike Inkster, Sheehan did win a scoring title. She also won 35 tournaments and six majors, and wracked up lots of Top 10s in a career whose consistency boosts her ahead of Inkster on this list. Most of Sheehan's LPGA wins happened in the 1980s, but she went out with a bang in 1996 by making the major Nabisco Dinah Shore her final win.

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Patty Berg

In 1935, she faced Glenna Collett Vare in the finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur. In 1980, when Beth Daniel was in her second year as a pro, Berg played for the final time on the LPGA Tour. She is credited with 60 wins by the LPGA. Fifteen of them (the women's record) were majors — although 14 of those were evenly split between the Titleholders and Western Open, tour tournaments long since defunct.

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Pat Bradley

She posted the same six majors as Sheehan, but "only" 30 career wins compared to Sheehan's 35. Bradley also wracked up tons of Top 10s (and Top 3s). Her highs were just a little bit higher than Sheehan's — Bradley won two money titles, two Vare Trophies and two Player of the Year awards. And in 1986, Bradley won three of the four LPGA majors played.

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Betsy King

In her first seven years on Tour, King didn't win once. Then she won at least once each of the next 10 years, with plenty of seconds, thirds, Top 10s, scoring titles, money titles and Player of the Year awards to boot. She was Player of the Year three times (1984, 1989, 1993), and finished with 34 career LPGA wins, six of which were majors (including the U.S. Women's Open twice).

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Karrie Webb

Webb is the highest-ranked golfer in our Top 50 who is still playing on the LPGA Tour. She has 41 career LPGA wins to date, plus wins on the ALPG, Ladies European Tour and Japan LPGA. Seven of those wins are majors, including U.S. Women's Open titles. Webb led the tour in money three times (1996, 1999, 2000), scoring average three times (1997, 1999, 2000), and was the Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000.

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Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Babe Zaharias after winning the 1948 US Women's Open.
Bettmann/Getty Images

Zaharias is in the argument as the greatest female athlete of all-time (she played, and excelled, in almost every sport, including winning Olympic medals in track and field). As a golfer, some consider her the best, too. She is credited with 41 LPGA wins, and posted many more wins as an amateur. Of her 41 pro wins, 10 were in majors, and three of those were U.S. Women's Open titles (1948, 1950, 1954). She won all three majors the LPGA played in 1950, and won the 1954 U.S. Women's Open by 12 strokes. In 1945, Zaharias played in three PGA Tour tournaments and made the cut in all three.

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JoAnne Carner

Karrie Webb played her way into the World Golf Hall of Fame while still in her 20s. In her 20s, Carner won five U.S. Women's Amateurs — she didn't turn pro until age 30. Yet she still won 43 LPGA Tour events, plus a slew of awards, money titles and scoring titles.

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Nancy Lopez

Lopez won 48 times, the most of her era (her first win was in 1978 and last in 1997). She also had the biggest individual seasons of her era, including the greatest rookie year in LPGA history. And her era was a fantastic one. These factors put her in the running for No. 1. But Lopez won "only" three majors, and never the U.S. Women's Open. She was clearly No. 1 among all her great contemporaries, though. She was a money leader three times, scoring leader three times, and the LPGA Player of the Year four times (1978, 1979, 1985, 1988).

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Kathy Whitworth

Whitworth won 88 LPGA Tour events, more than any other woman, and more than any man has won on the PGA Tour. The first of those wins was in 1962, the last in 1985. Six of them were major championships. Eight times she led the tour in money. Seven times Whitworth won the Vare Trophy, and seven times she was Player of the Year.

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Mickey Wright

Wright won 82 times, with 13 majors, and once posted double-digit wins in four consecutive years. And she did it despite giving up the full-time touring life by age 34. She won the LPGA Championship four times and the U.S. Women's Open four times. Her swing has been praised by many (including Ben Hogan) as one of the best — possibly the best — in golf history. Wright was almost always considered the best-ever (and still is by some) until you-know-who came along ...

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Annika Sorenstam

Annika Sorenstam is the greatest female golfer of all-time
Many argue in favor of Mickey Wright, some for Kathy Whitworth; but Annika Sorenstam is our pick as No. 1 of all-time. S. Levin/Getty Images

Her numbers are as big as those of Berg and Suggs, Wright and Whitworth, yet Sorenstam posted those numbers against, by far, the deepest, most competitive fields in the history of women's golf to that point. And that's why she's the greatest female golfer of all-time. Annika's first LPGA win was the 1995 U.S. Women's Open; her last LPGA win was in 2008. (Like Wright, Sorenstam retired before age 40.) Sorenstam was the tour's scoring leader six times, its money leader eight times, and she won the Player of the Year Award eight times.