ORLANDO, Fla. — Nancy Lopez has never been one to do anything half-heartedly.
When she realized her game was good enough to compete with the pros, Lopez left the University of Tulsa, and she won nine times in her rookie year on the LPGA, including an incredible stretch of five straight victories in May and June of 1978.
She finished her career with 51 professional wins, including three majors, in 25 full-time seasons on the tour. On one of women’s golf’s biggest stages, the Solheim Cup, Lopez helped the U.S. win the first Cup in 1990. She later captained the team to victory in 2005.
Now she’s joined forces with Lt. Dan Rooney and Folds of Honor, a non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships for children and spouses of fallen or disabled military service members and first responders.
Since the foundation started, it has granted 51,000 scholarships or about $240 million worth of education.
Rooney, the group’s CEO and founder, and Mike Arbour, who is the chairman of the board of directors, recently asked Lopez to become part of the board. She accepted.
“We never dreamed, especially 16 years ago when I was above my garage, that Nancy Lopez would say yes to joining our national board,” Rooney said. “I just think it’s a testament to the mission that brings people together, and that’s taking care of our military and first responders. In a world where you have to pick red or blue, this is red, white and blue. And I think people are starving for common ground.”
Lopez sat down with Golfweek during the PGA Show this week at the Orange County Convention Center to discuss why she became part of the organization, what she thinks of phenom Rose Zhang and what the Americans need to do to recapture the Solheim Cup.
I met Rose at the Women’s Amateur at Augusta and she was delightful.
I know she wants to finish school, which is great. I didn’t finish school. I wish I would have but I wanted to be an engineer and I don’t think I could have done that playing on the golf team.
The thing is she won and so there’s so much pressure already on her. I wish she wouldn’t have won so quickly. Because once you win … I mean, for me, I won nine times … I hate to brag, but I like to brag a…