Kathy Whitworth, the winningest golfer in history, has died at age 83

Kathy Whitworth, the most successful LPGA player with a record 88 titles, has died at age 83, the women’s tour announced on December 25, 2022. File Photo | Photo Credit: AFP

Kathy Whitworth set a benchmark in golf that no one, whether it was Sam Snead or Tiger Woods, Mickey Wright or Annika Sorenstam, had ever touched. His 88 victories are the most of any player on a single professional tour.

Whitworth, whose LPGA Tour victories spanned nearly a quarter-century and became the first woman to earn $1 million for her LPGA career, died on Christmas Eve, her longtime partner said. He is 83 years old.

Bettye Odle did not disclose the cause of death, saying only that Whitworth died suddenly Saturday night while celebrating with family and friends.

“Kathy left this world the way she lived – loving, laughing and creating memories,” Odle said in a statement released by the LPGA Tour.

Whitworth won the first of her 88 titles at the Kelly Girls Opens in July 1962. She won six majors during her career and broke Mickey Wright’s record of 82 career wins when Whitworth captured the Lady Michelob last summer day of 1982.

His last victory came in 1985 at the United Virginia Bank Classic.

“Winning never gets old,” Whitworth once said.

All that was missing from her career was the US Women’s Open, the biggest of the women’s majors. On becoming the first woman to surpass $1 million in career earnings in 1981, she said, “I would have traded being the first to earn a million for winning the Open, but it was a consolation that took a little away from not winning. . ”

Sorenstam referred to her on Twitter as the LPGA’s all-time victory leader and a “total class act” who will be missed.

“Thanks for setting the bar high, Kathy,” she wrote.

Whitworth was the AP Female Athlete of the Year in 1965 and in 1967, when she easily defeated Wimbledon singles champion Billie Jean King. Whitworth was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1982.

She was the LPGA player of the year seven times in an eight-year span (1966 to 1973). He won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average seven times and was the leading money winner in eight seasons.

But he was identified by a number – 88.

Snead is credited with a record 82 PGA Tour wins, a total Woods has since matched. Wright won 82 times on the LPGA Tour, while Sorenstam had 72 wins when she retired after the 2006 season at age 36.

“I think Mickey has the best swing, and probably the greatest golfer,” Betsy Rawls once told Golf Digest. “But Kathy is the best game player I’ve ever seen.”

Whitworth was born in Monahans, a small town in West Texas, and learned to play golf in New Mexico. He started at age 15 in Jal, New Mexico, on a nine-hole course built for El Paso Natural Gas employees.

Soon he was a two-time winner of the New Mexico State Amateur. After a brief stint at Odessa (Texas) College, she turned pro at age 19 and joined the LPGA Tour in December 1958.

“I was really lucky because I knew what I wanted to do,” Whitworth once told Golf Digest. “Golf just stabbed me in the throat. I can’t tell you how much I love him. I used to think everyone knew what they wanted to do when they were 15 years old.”

Wright has a more aesthetically pleasing swing. Whitworth is about grinding, and about winning.

Whitworth won eight times in 1963 and 1965, and he had 11 victories in 1968. In none of those years did he earn more than $50,000. After all those years, the LPGA Tour’s total prize fund for 2023 will increase to $100 million.

Whitworth continued to conduct junior clinics and stay active in the game.

“I don’t think about the legacy of the 88 tournaments,” he once said. “I did it because I wanted to win, not to set a record or a goal that others can’t beat. I’m not a freak. I’m lucky to be successful. What I did to become a better player doesn’t make me better person.

“When I’m asked how I want to be remembered, I feel like if people remember me, that’s enough.”

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Content Writer for Sports section on Contact: [email protected]

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