Hometown: Reading, PA; Resident: Scottsdale, AZ
Professional since 1977
Interview with Matt Ward
Raised in Reading, Pennsylvania. Graduate of Furman University in 1977. Played on the LPGA Tour from August 1977-December 2005. Winner of 34 LPGA Tournaments, including 6 major championships (2 US Opens, 3 Nabisco/Dinah Shore Championships, 1 LPGA Championship). Member of LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fames. Co-Founder in 2007 of Golf Fore Africa (www.golfforeafrica.org). To date, GFA has raised $8 million to fund various projects including housing, schools , health clinics and currently focused on clean water projects.
THE KING STORY —
I was introduced to golf by my parents when I was 9 years old. I have one older brother, and we began taking lessons together at the country club — Reading Country Club. I enjoyed playing golf, but at the time, it was just one of several sports that I participated in growing up. In fact, in high school I played softball instead of golf because there was not a girls golf team, and I was not allowed to play on the boys team. I went on to Furman University to play college golf. In my junior year in college I finished tied for 8th in the US Women’s Open Championship. It was then that I knew I was probably good enough to play on the LPGA Tour.
This week the US Women’s Open is being played. What did winning the event twice mean to you?
Growing up I pretended hundreds of times that I was sinking the putt to win the Open. To actually achieve it was a dream come true.
What attributes does a player have to have to win the most coveted title in women’s golf?
Patience, focus, and endurance.
If you had a mulligan in your career — what specific moment would you like to have another opportunity at?
I lost a playoff in the DuMaurier Classic (in Canada), which at the time was a major championship. I would like to replay that playoff again.
When did you know that playing competitively on the LPGA Tour had come to an end?
My last year on tour I went through the illness and death of my father and I was not playing well.
What was your reaction to the USGA creating a Senior Women’s Open event — being played at historic Chicago Golf Club this year?
I am very excited that they are having a championship. My one regret was that it did not happen sooner when I would probably be more competitive in the tournament.
You’ve been especially active in a number of key charitable efforts. What prompted your involvement?
I traveled to Africa in 2006 with relief and development agency World Vision. The level of poverty that I saw and its effects on women and children impacted me. I came back knowing I had to do something to make a difference. I founded Golf Fore Africa in January 2007 to bring hope and health to Africa.
What’s the most satisfying aspect for the time you’ve given with such endeavors?
It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to help other people in the world. Through Golf Fore Africa we have brought clean water to hundreds of thousands of people in rural villages in Africa. Most recently, I joined World Vision’s Global 6K for Water, the world’s largest 6K walk for water, to help promote awareness of and fundraising for the global water crisis. More than 48,000 participants from more than a dozen countries participated!
The toughest competitor you faced when playing.
To be honest, I just concentrated on my own game and did not think who I was playing against.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
I would like to make golf more affordable, so that more people, particularly juniors, could have an opportunity to play the game.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
You can’t make a swing change overnight, it takes time to make lasting changes in your game. Sometimes you go backwards before you go forward. This advice is from my longtime golf instructor Ed Oldfield.