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Carolinas' best golfers ever?

They've been a colorful lot - international stars, gamblers, folk heroes, college hotshots, club breakers, pioneers - parading down Carolinas fairways through the years.

Some great, some near great, most just good golfers who earned varying measures of fame with their clubs.

Who among them was the best golfer ever from the Carolinas? It's a question often asked over glasses at the 19th hole.

The short answer is, the best male golfer is Raymond Floyd, who was born at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, and the best woman player is Betsy Rawls from Spartanburg, S.C.

You could make a case for some others but if you go by the record book, those two are clear cut winners.

Floyd, an intense competitor known for his stare when he was in the heat of battle, won 22 times on the PGA Tour, including two PGA Championships, one US Open and one Masters, and played on eight Ryder Cup teams. He also won 14 tournaments on the Champions Tour, including four majors.

Rawls won 55 times on the LPGA Tour, including eight majors.

Julius Boros was from Connecticut but he lived in the Pinehurst area long enough to earn induction into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame. The easy going man called "Moose" won 18 tour events, including two US Opens and a PGA Championship and is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Mike Souchak was from Pennsylvania but he attended Duke and lived in Durham for a few years, giving him some eligibility in this discussion. He won 15 tour events, played on two Ryder Cup teams and finished in the top ten 11 times in majors.

Jay Haas, a Wake Forest All-American who lives in South Carolina, won nine PGA Tour events and has cleaned up on the Champions Tour, his wins including three senior majors.

Henry Picard lived in Charleston, S.C. for nine years. He won the Masters and the PGA Championship and is in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Charlotte's Clayton Heafner won seven times on tour, played on two Ryder Cup teams and was twice runnerup in the US Open.

Badin's Johnny Palmer won nine PGA Tour titles and was runnerup to Sam Snead in the PGA Championship.

Davis Love III was born here but moved away before he began competitive golf.

What about Charlie Sifford? We didn't get the chance to see how good he might have been because in his prime years he was denied the right to play on the PGA Tour because of his color. Once he was admitted, he won twice on the tour and later won the PGA Seniors Championship. He's in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Charleston's Beth Daniel is another World Golf Hall of Famer. She won 33 LPGA tournaments.

Chapel Hill's Estelle Lawson Page was an amateur star, winning seven prestigious Women's North & South titles and beating the great Patty Berg in the finals of the 1937 US Women's Amateur. Page got to the finals again in 1938 but this time lost to Berg.

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