With seven Grand Slam titles each, they share seventh place in the rankings of major championship winners. They are Americans Juli Inkster and Arnold Palmer...
An extraordinary and hugely popular golfer, and a firm favourite among fans right up to his death (25 September 2016 aged 87), Arnold Palmer was the first player to win one million dollars in prizemoney and four US Masters titles at Augusta.
Also known as The King, or simply Arnie, this charismatic player was born on 10 September 1929 in Youngstown, Pennsylvania. He began playing golf at three thanks to his greenskeeper father. Later he began to reap the rewards of his expertise with a golf club and won the West Penn Amateur Championship. In spite of this and other successes, he left golf for a few years to enrol in the Coast Guard, returning to the game at the start of the 1950s.
In 1954, he achieved his most important victory as an amateur, the national US Championship, and it was clear what the future held: just five months later he turned professional. After two seasons settling into the Tour, his first big season came in 1957 when he won four times. The following year Arnold won his first Grand Slam title, the US Masters – and he went on to win the tournament three more times (1960, 1962 and 1964).
His attacking play, charismatic swing and Hollywood actor’s appearance quickly turned him into a media star. His charisma and TV appeal in the first years when this new communication medium began to become popular helped develop the game and boost prizemoney.
His 1960 season was especially impressive, as he won eight events, including two majors (the Masters and US Open). Also special for Palmer was 1962, when he again won eight tournaments – also including two majors (the Masters and British Open, which he had won for the first time the previous year). As to be expected, he was named Player of the Year in 1960 and 1962.
During his long and successful career, The King won seven majors, between 1958 and 1964: four Masters (he was the first player to achieve this feat); two British Opens; and a US Open.
Between 1957 and 1963, Palmer topped the money list four times and won the most number of events five times. In 1968, he became the first golfer to win a career one million dollars on the US PGA Tour.
His final major year on the Tour was 1971, when he won five times. The last of his 62 professional victories came in 1973, although his popularity never declined among fans.
In 1980, he joined the Champions (Seniors) Tour, and once again his vivacious personality helped further popularise the Tour. Success came quickly: in his first season he won the PGA Seniors Championship and the next year the US Senior Open. In all he collected 10 titles on the Champions Tour.
His experiences in the Ryder Cup had a double facet: he played in the event on seven occasions and was captain twice (the last time in 1975).
Palmer was able to maintain his popularity thanks to featuring in advertisements, and he also established his own company, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, an empire which includes golf academies, and companies organising golf events, managing golf courses and selling sports products and clothes. In addition, he was the co-founder of The Golf Channel. With all these extensive business activities he became one of the wealthiest sportsmen in the world.
Among his many honours, in 1974 Arnold Palmer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Born in Santa Cruz, California, on 24 June 1960, Juli Inkster is one of the great names in modern golf history. This is especially attested to by her 31 victories on the US LPGA Tour, seven majors, three World Championships, two wins on the Ladies European Tour, eight victories on other professional circuits and nine appearances in the Solheim Cup…
Inkster's achievements as an amateur are almost alone worthy of the well-deserved place she occupies in the World Golf Hall of Fame. She learned to play the sport at a club in northern California, where she practiced every day before and after school. Like many other young people her age, she applied for a job at the golf course to obtain additional playing privileges and started to park trolleys and pick up balls before working as a pro shop saleswoman. That's where she met her future husband, Brian, a professional golfer who recognised Juli's untapped potential.
Inkster showed her immeasurable talent when she scored three consecutive victories in the U.S. Women's Amateur, between 1980 and 1982. "When I look back now, I don’t know how I managed to win three in a row," she said years later. "It's probably my best achievement as a golfer, whether professional or amateur.” Prior to becoming a professional, she also won the California Amateur in 1981, represented the United States in the Curtis Cup team in 1982, and was an All-American team member for four years at San Jose State University.
Inkster qualified for the LPGA Tour in 1983 and won her first title quickly, in her fifth tournament. She became the first LPGA Tour player to win two majors in a season: the 1984 Nabisco Dinah Shore and Du Maurier Classic. Suddenly she was the brightest young star in women's golf.
Inkster won assiduously during the 1980s, including four times in 1986 and her second Nabisco Dinah Shore title in 1989. In 1992 she almost won a third Nabisco but succumbed to Dottie Pepper in sudden-death; and she also nearly won the US Women's Open, a title she desperately craved, against Patty Sheehan in an 18-hole play-off.
From 1993 to 1997, Inkster did not win a tournament, unable to adequately combine the ongoing development of her career with the care of her daughters. Inkster had averaged two victories a year until 1990, when her first daughter, Hayley, was born. To become a high-level athlete, she said, "you have to be a bit selfish. Until I had children, for most of my life everything revolved around me, and then that changed. There were many times when I ran around like a headless chicken, feeling like I was not giving 100 per cent to my daughters or 100 per cent to my golf. It was not true, but that's how I felt. It was difficult to find a balance and, in the mid-1990s, my golf suffered a setback."
But that situation changed in the late 1990s. As she recalled, "I could not be with my daughters all the time, but I could give them what they needed. When I understood that, my golf improved. I did not take each tournament as if it were life or death. I just matured, I guess."
Her return to a sense of tranquillity coincided with her best form, and Juli was rewarded with victories in 1997 and 1998.
In 1999, a rejuvenated Inkster starred in one of the most memorable seasons in the history of the LPGA Tour. She won five times, including (finally) the tricky U.S. Women's Open. After achieving that goal, one she had pursued throughout her career, three weeks later she triumphed in the LPGA Championship to become the fourth woman to win the then Grand Slam.
The last point she needed to be part of the Hall of Fame came at the Safeway Championship, where she received a shower of champagne from her teammates after hitting the final putt. "Not even in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen to me," Inkster said of her place alongside Mickey Wright, Arnold Palmer and other golfing greats in the Hall of Fame, which she entered in 2000.
In 2000 she won the LPGA Championship and in 2002 her last major, the U.S. Women's Open, with a final round of 66 to beat Annika Sorenstam. Her last victory on the LPGA Tour, the 31st, was at the 2006 Safeway International, which also marked an economic milestone, as she topped $10 million in career earnings. At the beginning of this year, her tournament earnings slightly exceeded $14 million, and was fifth in this ranking among active players, behind Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Inbee Park.
Recently turned 59, Juli continues competing on the LPGA Tour, although at a much slower pace than during her glory years. In 2017 she played in 10 tournaments, and made the cut in seven, and her best result was 24th. Last year she only made the cut in one of the 11 tournaments, and this season he has started in four but not made any cuts.
In addition to her 31 victories on the LPGA Tour, Juli treasures two victories on the Ladies European Tour, eight on other professional circuits, and five on the US Legends Tour (for senior women), the last one achieved just a few weeks ago.
Next September, Inkster will become captain, for the third time, of the US Solheim Cup team. Her two previous captaincies, in 2015 and 2017, ended with victories by the Americans.