Golfer Fay Crocker, the first non-American to win the U.S. Women’s Open, died on Sept. 16, 1983, in her hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay.
Crocker turned pro in 1954 at age 39. She won the 1955 Serbin Open at 40 years, 6 months and 18 days, which set the LPGA’s record for the oldest first-time winner.
In her sophomore season, the former American Embassy clerk earned three victories: the Serbin Open, the inaugural Wolverine Open and the U.S. Women’s Open, where she outplayed Louise Suggs and Mary Lena Faulk. She was the 10th winner of the U.S. Women’s Open, as she finished the major tournament with an 11-over-par 299 and won $2,000 in prize money.
Crocker was born Aug. 2, 1914, in Montevideo to parents Frederick and Helen, both golf champions in Uruguay. Crocker’s great-grandfather, American U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Crocker, moved to Uruguay after the Civil War. He was a U.S. consul from 1876-79.
Crocker’s father ran the import business his father had created, and in the midst of doing so he won 27 golf championships in Uruguay. Helen was a successful dual-sport athlete, winning titles in golf and tennis. Crocker won the Uruguay women’s championship 20 times and Argentina’s women’s championship 14 times.
After losing in the third round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Open in 1939, Crocker didn’t participate in another United States Golf Association tournament for 11 years.
During that time off, Crocker was a visa clerk in the American Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but committed to the game full time in 1954 when she turned pro.
At the 1954 Sea Island Women’s Open Golf Tournament, Crocker’s first as a pro, she set a course record when she hit 69 in the final round. She finished seventh at the first tournament of the LPGA circuit with a score of 235 — four behind winner Suggs. Though she didn’t win, Crocker‘s record-setting round prompted a fan to contribute $100, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
In the seasons after 1955, Crocker secured two victories each in 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1960. Her score of 68 in the second round of the 1958 U.S. Women’s Open made her the first golfer to break 70 in that tournament. When she won the Titleholders Championship in 1960 at 45 years, 7 months and 11 days, she became the oldest winner of an LPGA major. She retired a year later having won 11 LPGA tournaments, including the two major championships.
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