Getty ImagesIn her first full season on the LPGA Tour, Nancy Lopez won nine tournaments, including five in a row, on her way to capturing Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors.ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
Before golfer Nancy Lopez even graduated from high school, she already had a runner-up finish at the U.S. Women's Open.
Lopez, No. 24 in ESPN's countdown, went on to collect 48 career victories and earn a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
And nobody captured the adoration of the galleries quite like Lopez.
"She loved the crowd, they loved her, and she fed off of that," former LPGA pro Hollis Stacy says. "She just had a beautiful smile on the golf course. Even for those of us within the ropes, Nancy's smile always eased the tension.
"She would smile, then stab you in the heart by making a putt."
Read the complete story from espnW here.
Earlier in this series:
No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia
No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone
No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton
No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato
No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly
No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi
No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman
No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach
No. 32: Swimmer Mary T. Meagher
No. 31: Marathoner Joan Benoit
No. 30: Sprinter Gail Devers
No. 29: Basketball player Nancy Lieberman
No. 28: Marathoner Grete Waitz
No. 27: Soccer player Michelle Akers
No. 26: Basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw
No. 25: Swimmer Dara Torres