Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States: The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced that the medal presented each year to the winner of the US Women’s Open Championship has been renamed in Mickey Wright’s honour and redesigned with an image of her iconic swing, ensuring that every future champion is forever linked to one of golf’s greatest pioneers and competitors.
The gold medal, which until now has not had a formal name, dates to the 1953 US Women’s Open when the USGA first began conducting the championship. Beginning in June with the 75th US Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, each champion will receive the Mickey Wright Medal along with the US Women’s Open Trophy.
“Mickey exemplified what it means to be a USGA champion both on and off the course,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “Naming the US Women’s Open champion’s medal after Mickey, in a milestone anniversary year for the championship, is a fitting way to honour the breadth of her accomplishments and contributions to the game of golf.
“She embodied what it means to be a US Women’s Open competitor and champion, showing mental toughness, exquisite shot-making and exceptional course management. We are so honoured to have had the relationship with her that we did.”
Over the course of her career, Wright, who died on February 17 at the age of 85, won four US Women’s Open titles, which ties Betsy Rawls for the most ever. In addition, Wright had seven top-three finishes and 10 top-five finishes in the championship. She was the first player to win consecutive Women’s Opens, in 1958 at Forest Lake Country Club, and in 1959 at Churchill Valley Golf Club. She added victories in 1961 at Baltusrol Golf Club, and 1964 at San Diego Country Club.
Wright also won the 1952 US Girls’ Junior and received the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honour, in 2010. In 2012, she became the fourth golfer – and first woman – to be honoured with her own exhibition room at the USGA Golf Museum in Liberty Corner, joining Ben Hogan, Bob Jones and Arnold Palmer.
She donated more than 200 personal items for the Mickey Wright Room, which can be visited by the general public. Jack Nicklaus became the fifth person to have a dedicated room in the museum in 2015 and is the only other person to have a USGA championship medal named after him, an honour that was bestowed in 2012 with the gold medal that is awarded to the US Open champion.
“The USGA has been a big part of my life since 1950 when I played in my first Girls’ Junior,” Wright said in 2012. “To win five of their championships, the US Girls’ Junior and four Women’s Opens, has always been my most cherished accomplishment in golf. My only regret was not being able to win a fifth Women’s Open. Someday, perhaps, someone will.”
Regarded as one of the greatest players in the game’s history, Wright was renowned for her powerful and beautifully rhythmic swing, which was described as the greatest ever by Hogan and Byron Nelson. She amassed 82 LPGA Tour victories, including 13 Major championships. Both totals are second-most in women’s golf. Between 1961 and 1962, Wright became the only woman to hold four Major titles at the same time, a record she still holds.
She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Associated Press named her Female Golfer of the Century in 1999.
The Mickey Wright Medal will be awarded to the 2020 US Women’s Open champion on June 7, capping a week-long celebration at Champions Golf Club.