USGA champion and longtime LPGA Tour player Mary Lou Daniel Crocker, of Carrollton, Texas, died on Jan. 27, two months after being diagnosed with cancer. She was 71.
Born Sept. 17, 1944, in Louisville, Ky., Crocker, who then played under the name of Mary Lou Daniel, won the 1962 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship with a 2-up victory over Mary Sawyer at the Country Club of Buffalo in Williamsville, N.Y. On the way to the championship, Daniel defeated future fellow LPGA Tour players Sandra Post and Jan Ferraris. Ferraris would also go on to win the Girls’ Junior the following year.
She also won the 1962 Western Girls’ Junior, after finishing runner-up the previous year, and was honored as the 1962 Kentucky Female Athlete of the Year.
The Bluegrass State native earned a scholarship to play golf on the men’s team at the University of Kentucky and became the first woman to earn a varsity letter on a men’s team at the university. She also won the 1965 Kentucky State Amateur title.
Crocker turned professional in 1966 and competed on the LPGA Tour for 14 years. She earned her only LPGA Tour win in the 1973 Marc Equity Classic in Buffalo, N.Y., and posted her best major-championship finish – a tie for ninth – in the 1973 U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Rochester (N.Y.). After retiring from the Tour, she spent 15 years teaching the game to Dallas-area girls through the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.