Ruth Jessen, 70, a professional golfer who won 11 times on the LPGA Tour and twice finished second at the U.S. Women's Open, died of lung cancer Friday at a hospice in Phoenix, the U.S. Golf Assn. announced.
Jessen, who was known for her extremely wide putting stance, competed on the Ladies Professional Golf Assn. tour from 1956 to 1985. Her best season was 1964, when she won five tournaments and came in second five times. She was runner-up at the U.S. Women's Open at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista that year, losing to Mickey Wright in an 18-hole playoff. Jessen also finished second in the 1962 U.S. Women's Open behind Murle Lindstrom.
Her career was plagued by serious physical ailments. She suffered neck injuries and nerve damage and underwent five major operations, including surgery for uterine cancer in 1968.
She won the Ben Hogan Comeback Player of the Year award in 1971, when she returned from elbow surgery. That year she won her last tournament and took home what was then a record purse for an LPGA event, $10,000. She retired from the tour in 1985 and became a teaching pro in Arizona.
A native of Seattle, Jessen played on the men's golf team at Seattle University before turning pro in 1956 at age 19.