Welsh Golfing Greats
ERRIE BALL (1910–2014)
Samuel Henry ‘Errie’ Ball was a Welsh-American professional golfer, born in Bangor, who competed at the inaugural Augusta National golf tournament in 1934. Ball recorded 11 professional wins and was still competitive even into his late 40s. At age 47 — in the 1958 PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club — he carded rounds of 79-72-72-73=296 and finished in a tie for 33rd place. Ball, who died at the age of 103, Ball was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2011.
AMY BOULDEN (born 1993)
Following a successful amateur career, St Asaph-born Boulden won two professional tournaments, including her first win on the Ladies European Tour – a three-stroke victory at the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open in 2020.
BECKY BREWERTON (born 1982)
Brewerton played at the 2007 and 2009 Solheim Cup. She also finished third at the 2009 Ladies European Tour.
CRAIG DEFOY (born 1947)
Turned pro in 1964 and gained three runner-up finishes on The European Tour and a fourth place in The 1971 Open Championship at Muirfield. Went on to play more than 10 seasons on the Senior circuit, one of a select band of European Senior Tour players to have made more than 100 competitive appearances. A five-time winner in Africa on the Safari circuit. Represented Wales in seven World Cups and later went on to play twice for Great Britain & Ireland in the PGA Cup.
STEPHEN DODD (born 1966)
Something of a ‘late developer’ in his professional golfing career, unexpectedly winning two events on the European Tour in the 2005 season at the age of 38 and a third in 2006. He also won the 2005 WGC-World Cup in partnership with Bradley Dredge. Since turning 50 he has won four times on the European Senior Tour, including the 2021 Senior Open Championship.
JAMIE DONALDSON (born 1975)
A European Tour stalwart for years, Donaldson has finished inside the top 50 on the Order of Merit on numerous occasions. Born in Pontypridd, Donaldson turned professional in 2000.
In 2012, Donaldson won his maiden European Tour title at The Irish Open at Royal Portrush. His first victory came at the 255th attempt and also made him the 10th Welshman to taste success on the European Tour.
In his second start of the 2013 season and 13 events after his maiden victory, Donaldson won his second European Tour title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
He became the fifth man in history to record a hole-in-one on the 6th hole at Augusta National Golf Club during the 2013 Masters Tournament.
Donaldson secured the winning point for Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup, with a wedge shot onto the 15th green, beating Keegan Bradley 4 & 3.
BRIAN HUGGETT (born 1936)
Huggett won 14 times on the pre-European Tour circuit in the 1960s, and twice more after it was formed. Like Dave Thomas, he also missed out on the Claret Jug thanks to Peter Thomson.
Huggett also made six appearances in the Ryder Cup and ended his career on the senior circuit, where he won 10 more times before being inducted into the Welsh Hall of Fame and awarded an MBE.
Professional wins: 34 (2 European Tour)
MARY JESTYN JEFFREYS (January 8, 1908-June 19, 1973)
Won the Welsh Ladies’ Amateur Championship four times in the 1930s. She became the first Welsh woman to play in a British team when she competed in the tied Vagliano Trophy match against France at Chantilly in 1934.
Jeffreys, born in Neath, won the Welsh Ladies’ Amateur Championship four times, in 1930, 1931, 1933 and 1937, and was also runner-up three times. She represented Wales in the Women’s Home Internationals each year from 1928 to 1938 and again in 1947.
DAVID LLEWELLYN (born 1951)
Llewellyn played on the European Tour in the 1970s after being named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year in 1971. After a spell as a club professional at Craythorne Golf Centre (1975–78), Royal Malta Golf Club (1978–81) and Thirsk and Northallerton Golf Club (1982–84), he returned to tournament golf in 1984, and collected several tournament victories during the following years. His sole win on the main European Tour was the 1988 AGF Biarritz Open, when he set a tour record four-round total of 258.
Another highlight of his career was winning the World Cup of Golf for Wales alongside Ian Woosnam in 1987.
Llewellyn later became National Coach to the Golf Union of Wales between 2002 and 2007.
PHILIP PRICE (born 1966)
Price represented his country nine times in the World Cup. But it was from another team competition, The Ryder Cup, that he emerged from the shadows. He made a phenomenal debut at The Belfry in 2002, beating Phil Mickelson in the final day’s singles to secure an invaluable point for Europe.
Since turning 50, Price has won twice on the Staysure Legends Tour. His first victory was at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in 2017, before triumphing at the 2019 Staysure PGA Seniors Championship on his way to claiming the John Jacobs Trophy for topping the Order of Merit.
After his first European Tour win in 1994, he was named ‘Pontypridd Man of the Year’, and he completed a notable Welsh double by being named ‘Newport Man of the Year’ following his Ryder Cup heroics.
DAI REES (1913–1983)
Known as one of the greatest players from Great Britain, either side of World War II, Rees won 39 professional tournaments between 1935 and 1975.
Rees has seven Open top 10s on his CV, including three runner-up finishes, but his crowning glory is captaining the winning Ryder Cup team in 1957 – the only defeat the United States suffered in the competition between 1933 and 1985.
In 1983, Rees was involved in a car crash on his way home from watching his favourite football team, Arsenal. He couldn’t recover from his injuries and died a few months later, aged 70.
DAVE THOMAS (1934–2013)
Thomas turned professional in 1949, and plied most of his trade in Great Britain and Ireland, where he won more than a dozen professional titles.
He agonisingly missed out on a major title victory at the 1958 Open, where he was beaten in a play-off by Australian Peter Thomson. He had three other Open top 10s, including another runner-up spot in 1966, where Jack Nicklaus edged him by one.
Along with those achievements, he represented Great Britain and Ireland in the Ryder Cup on four occasions, and was only defeated once in the five singles matches he played.
Thomas died at his home in Spain in 2013, aged 79.
TEGWEN THOMAS (born 1957)
Thomas, from Cardiff, became the first Welsh woman to play for Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup and, as Tegwen Matthews, was made captain of Wales at the age of 50.
Having played in four Curtis Cups, she had never been on the winning side, but, in 2012, she made history by leading Great Britain and Ireland to their first Curtis Cup win over America since 1996. That ensured for the first time that the big four team golf trophies – Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup – would reside this side of the Atlantic.
VICKI THOMAS (born 1954)
Thomas had to fight to be the best golfer in her own household in Bargoed, never mind the best of the rest in Wales and beyond. The eldest of three golfing highly talented sisters, she led the way by winning the Welsh Girls title in 1973. Where she led, Kerri (1976) and Mandy (1979) soon followed. With their mother, they all played together in the Welsh club championships.
As well as Thomas’s eight Welsh closed titles, she also won the Welsh Open Stroke Play crown three times and was runner-up three times.
She played internationally for Wales for 28 years (1971-1998) and was a Curtis Cup player for GB & Ireland on six occasions (1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992). In 1986, at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas, she was in the team that ended a 30 year wait to win the trophy and notch the first triumph on American soil. She was also a winner in 1988 and 1992. She also competed in six Vagliano Trophies for GB & Ireland, never finishing on the losing side, and played for Wales in nine European Team championships and was part of the side which secured a runners-spot at Turnberry in 1987.
As she entered the ranks of the Seniors there were no signs of her success slowing down. She was crowned Senior Ladies British Open Amateur Champion in 2009 at the Pyle & Kenfig club – 19 years on from winning the British Strokeplay title.
HELEN WADSWORTH (born 1964)
Prior to turning professional, Wadsworth was runner-up in the 1990 Welsh Ladies’ Amateur Championship, runner-up to Julie Wade in the 1990 British Ladies Amateur, won the 1990 World Fourball Championship (with Julie Wade) in Brazil, and was a member of the 1990 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team. She played collegiate golf with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
In her first year as a professional, Wadsworth had three top-10 finishes, winning her the Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Award. In 1994, she won the BMW European Masters and took second place at the Irish Open. In 1996 she placed second at the McDonald’s WPGA Championship of Europe at Gleneagles and in 1997 she won the Sunningdale Foursomes. She won the Taiwan Ladies Open in 1998.
IAN WOOSNAM (born 1958)
His CV speaks for itself. Sixth on the all-time European Tour wins list, Woosnam won the Ryder Cup as a player and captain, and has a Masters Green Jacket in his wardrobe from winning one of the Major tournaments at Augusta.
Professional wins: 52 (28 European Tour, 1 PGA Tour, 1 Major)
Mark Mouland, Bradley Dredge and Rhys Davies all have victories on the men’s European Tour, as do Becky Morgan and Lydia Hall in the women’s game.
Other Welsh golfers with several professional wins to their name include Sion Bebb (son of former Welsh international rugby player Dewi Bebb), Rhys Enoch, Oliver Farr and Stuart Manley.
Familiar names on the international circuits also include Paul Affleck, Simon Cox, Richard Johnson, David Park, Philip Parkin, Mark Pilkington, Karen Davies and Eleanor Pilgrim.
(sources include Golfing World, Welsh Sports Hall of Fame, europeantour.com, National Club Golfer magazine, wikipedia)
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