Hollis Stacy in elite company

Hollis Stacy -- 1977, 1978, 1984

Hollis Stacy doesn't mean it to sound arrogant. It's just something she came to believe soon after taking up golf seriously as a kid in the 1960s.

"I always knew I was going to win an Open," Stacy said, "because I had a superlative short game. That is the key to winning one."

She didn't stop at just one U.S. Women's Open title. She won three: in 1977, '78 and '84. Stacy is one of four players to do that. Only two women -- Mickey Wright and Betsy Rawls, with four each -- have won this premier major more times.

Stacy, a Georgia native, was active in a lot of sports even at a time when there weren't many options for girls. Once she tried golf, though, she knew it was the right fit for her. From a family with 10 children, Stacy said she especially loved to go out on a course and play by herself whenever she could.

She was successful at other USGA events too, taking the U.S. Girls' Junior title three times and the North and South Women's Amateur. The latter event was held in 1970 at Pinehurst, site of this year's U.S. Women's Open.

Asked how much it meant to her to be an American winning the U.S. Women's Open, Stacy gave an answer that reflected the time in which she played.

"I think this 'us against the world' mentality is more recent in the LPGA," she said. "But when I played, there were so few international players on the tour. I felt like, you win for yourself and your family. I wasn't thinking that I was winning for my country."

Other players near the same age as Stacy did view it in more nationalistic terms. Nancy Lopez was one, and her ardor for the U.S. Women's Open was all the more stoked because it was the only event of importance she never won during her Hall of Fame career. Stacy was one of the reasons why Lopez didn't.

Stacy was the victor in one of Lopez's four second-place finishes at the championship, in 1977, at Hazeltine in Minnesota. Stacy won that title by two shots.

In 1978, Lopez had her monster rookie season on the LPGA Tour, in which she won nine times. But Stacy was the U.S. Women's Open winner that year too, in Indianapolis.

A third U.S. Women's Open victory came when Stacy rallied on the final day of the 1984 championship at Salem Country Club in Massachusetts. She entered the final round five strokes off the lead and shot a 69 to take the trophy.

Stacy, who now resides in Colorado, is proud of the generation she grew up in and thinks its skill level was very high. She played with a wood driver and had a 54-degree wedge. She was creative about hitting a lower angle and playing the bounces.

Her prize money for winning three U.S. Women's Open titles was a combined $62,000, which is approximately what Lexi Thompson and Karrie Webb made for tying for 13th at the 2013 U.S. Women's Open.

Stacy doesn't begrudge them a cent of that.

"My career and my life have been fantastic," she said. "I'm not bitter because they are playing for the winner to get over a half-a-million dollars now. I think the winner should get a million. I think they deserve that."