Danielle Downey was the first woman to compete on the PGA Tour as the featured act in the 2003 Colonial Invitational in Texas. On Saturday, the Augusta National Golf Club returned the favor when they honored Downey with their Arthur Hills Award, given to the person who makes significant contributions to golf.
Danielle Downey became the first woman to ever play in the men’s version of the PGA TOUR. #AWard #Golf https://t.co/4X0y2VrSLi — Arthur Hills AWARD (@AnArthurHills) August 26, 2017
Downey, who won three times in women’s golf during her career, was also the inspiration for the 2003 movie “Pretty Woman,” in which Julia Roberts played a play by the name of Vivian Ward.
Under the direction of professional golfer Arnold Palmer, Downey took the turn shot, which many believe was the defining moment in women’s golf. “There was a battle going on in my head,” Downey told USA Today. “I made the turn and I was still trying to convince myself that it was the right decision to make the turn.”
Palmer, perhaps the most prominent male golfer of the modern era, said Downey was the “greatest all-sport athlete I have ever seen in my life.” Palmer said Downey’s victory helped change the game for the next generation of players.
Downey, now married and the mom of three, met Palmer when he approached her with the invitation to play in the “Big Easy,” at the Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. In 1972, Michael Gertner became the first woman to win a tour event, and Palmers’ former butler Sammy Treel to offer his congratulations. In 1973, Downey became the first woman to play in the Masters. She won 12 titles in the fall tournament in Atlanta, and the following year she had a record-breaking payday.
“Happy Golf Day! It’s your 50th anniversary”
“No she’s 25”
“We’re still over here!” https://t.co/UJv6IATWWo — CBS Sports (@CBSSports) August 27, 2017
As the now 67-year-old Downey joked with Palmer during the Arthur Hills ceremony, “Aww, that was so long ago.”
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