Tanya Soronen: Northwestern’s Feminist Icon, Who Played with Johnny Miller

She dominated college women’s golf for years at the University of Texas and won eight of her own national championships. She has her green jacket and made it to the Masters Hall of Fame. Now, the college golfing legend who played with “Frick the Fuzz” Johnny Miller is a pioneer for women in the sport, a trailblazer for the sport she helped win.

Tanya Soronen

Position: PGA golf assistant coach, women’s professional golfer

High School: Lee High School

Education: Ohio State graduate

Born: Aug. 16, 1949

Tanya Soronen was probably the greatest all-sport athlete that Northwestern and what we will never hear from. For all the people that aren’t playing, and they won’t know the players before them that didn’t make it and they’ll never play with the players of today. She was the greatest of all-time.

She didn’t win anything in school except maybe a basketball championship. But what she did during her time at Northwestern is unbelievable. Her last tournament, she was named the national female coach of the year, she won three national titles at Northwestern from 1982 to 1988. And she was a successful runner up four times, and nobody has won three national titles at Northwestern.

For all the people who aren’t playing, and they won’t know the players before them that didn’t make it and they’ll never play with the players of today. She was the greatest of all-time. —Golf coach Jim Conley

She reached the LPGA, but that just didn’t click with her. She knew that she couldn’t reach the top of the PGA Tour. Then in 1989, when Tiger was in 1991, she said, “You know what? I’m going to try to break the barrier of women in golf.” She said, “I’m going to make history. I’m going to play with Johnny Miller.” So she became the first ever woman to play in the BMW Championship at Cog Hill in Chicago. And that was the first time women who weren’t on tour at that time were able to do this at a LPGA tour event. She played good golf for four days and the players loved playing with her.

We don’t know if she would have gone on to win any of the majors, but she’ll always be remembered because we played the women’s golf team because of what she did and I’m honored and delighted to say that she was my good friend.

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