Betsy King and Pia Nilsson to be honored at 2023 Cognizant Founders Cup
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (May 8, 2023) In the tradition of honoring the past, present and future of women’s golf, the LPGA Foundation will once again celebrate the pioneers of the game at the Cognizant Founders Cup, May 11-14 at Upper Montclair Country Club.
The Cognizant Founders Cup honors the 13 Founders of the LPGA and the Pioneers who followed them to build the world’s oldest and most successful women’s professional sports league. The tournament supports the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program, which has introduced more than one million girls to the game of golf.
LPGA Pioneers are women who venture into unclaimed territory. They are women who open new areas of thought and development in the game. These women exemplify the pioneering spirit always blazing a trail and leading others to follow. These women are instrumental in actively participating to advance and grow the LPGA.
This year, the 2023 Pioneers being honored are World Golf and LPGA Hall of Fame member Betsy King, and noted author, instructor and member of the National Golf Coaches Hall of Fame, Pia Nilsson.
King joined the LPGA Tour in 1977 and toiled for seven winless seasons before becoming one of the most prolific winners in LPGA Tour history. Her first victory was the 1984 Women’s Kemper Open, the first of three titles that year. She also had 21 top-10 finishes in 1984 which earned her the Rolex LPGA Player of the Year award. From 1984 through 1989, King won a total of 20 LPGA events, more wins than any other golfer in the world, male or female, during that period.
After that first win, King captured at least one win a year for the next decade. In 1989 she had a career-high of six victories. She finished in the top 10 on the money list every year from 1985–1995, and again in 1997. Along the way, she was named Rolex LPGA Player of the Year three times, won two scoring titles and three money titles.
In 1993, she won a scoring title and the money title, but only one tournament as she finished second five times, including at two majors.
King averaged winning a major a year from 1987 to 1992 and then added a sixth major in 1997. She won the U.S. Women’s Open twice, the Chevron Championship three times, and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship once. The last of her 34 LPGA Tour wins came in 2001.
In 1995, she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
King played on United States Solheim Cup team five times (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998) and captained the winning U.S. team in 2007.
A supporter of many charitable causes throughout her career, King was so moved by a trip to Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania that she formed a charity called Golf Fore Africa in 2007. Working with World Vision, GFA has installed over 450 freshwater wells throughout Zambia, providing potable water and changing the lives of more than 300,000 people.
Nilsson was an exemplary amateur player in her native Sweden, having played on the Swedish National Amateur Golf Team from 1974 to 1981. She appeared twice in the World Amateur Team Championship (1976 and 1980). And she won the European Ladies’ Team Championship in 1981.
She was the first female Swede to play collegiate golf at a university in the United States, and upon graduating from Arizona State University, immediately began splitting time between Arizona and Sweden, a practice she continues today.
A four-time winner on the Telia Tour, Nilsson played five years on the LPGA Tour with moderate success before becoming the head coach of the Swedish National Women’s Teams from 1990 through 1995. She was also the head coach of all the Swedish National Teams from 1996 through 1998.
In addition to being the first Swedish captain of the European Solheim Cup team (1998), Nilsson coached some of the game’s top players, including World Golf and LPGA Hall of Fame member Annika Sorenstam. She has coached more than 80 LPGA members over the last 34 years, including 11 different LPGA Major Champions and four #1 ranked players in the world. She stands apart in the golf and sports world as an intuitive and elevated thinker, whose teachings continue to have profound influence on coaching in golf, sport and life.
Nilsson has conducted coach trainings in 21 different countries. She was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 2019 and the National College Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001. She remains ranked the #1 Women Teacher in America by Golf Digest since 2012. She received the Ellen Griffin Rolex LPGA Award in 2016 and a medal of the 8th dimension with Royal Blue Ribbon for leadership in sports from The King of Sweden.
She is co-founder with Lynn Marriott and head coach of Vision54 Golf Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona as well as being co-author of the books “Every Shot Must Have a Purpose,” “Play Your Best Golf Now,” “The Game Before the Game,” and “Be a Player.”