November 23, 2015

Big Sky Country has produced dozens of natural wonders and soul-stirring courses, but not many golfers who made any national impact. Kudos to the state’s best amateur, Gene Cook, who snared six Montana Amateur titles, two Mid-Ams and seven Senior Am crowns. And a tip of the rancher hat to Tom Weiskopf and David Graham, a pair of major winners who established permanent residences in Montana, though well after their competitive playing days had ended. So we salute Alice Ritzman, who played the LPGA Tour from 1978 to ’98. Born in the Flathead Valley town of Kalispell, Ritzman claimed the State Amateur in 1972 and 1973, attended Eastern Montana College in Billings and turned pro. She never did win on Tour, losing twice in playoffs in 1981, to Hall of Famers Kathy Whitworth and Hollis Stacy and losing another one in 1986, when yet another Hall of Famer, Betsy King, edged her at the Rail Charity Classic. Upon her retirement, Ritzman held the record for most money won (nearly $1.5 million) and highest ranking on the career money list (43rd) by a non-winner. One LPGA Tour record Ritzman still holds: She made three eagles in the same round at the 1979 Colgate European Open.