No golfer has ever surpassed Kathy Whitworth’s standard, not Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Mickey Wright, or Annika Sorenstam. She has the most player victories on a single professional tour with 88.
According to her lifelong companion, Whitworth passed away on Christmas Eve, whose LPGA Tour victories stretched over a quarter of a century. She was the first woman to earn $1 million on the LPGA. She was 83.
Whitworth unexpectedly passed away Saturday night while celebrating with family and friends, according to Bettye Odle, who withheld the cause of death. According to Odle, Kathy “left this worth the way she lived her life—loving, laughing, and making memories,” the LPGA Tour said in a statement.
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In July 1962, Whitworth won the Kelly Girls Opens, the first of her 88 victories. Whitworth broke Mickey Wright’s record of 82 career victories when she won the Lady Michelob in the summer of 1982. Throughout her career, she won six major championships.
In 1985, she achieved her last triumph at the United Virginia Bank Classic. Whitworth famously remarked, “Winning never got old.” The only event missing from her career was the biggest of the women’s majors, the U.S. Women’s Open.
She commented, “I would have traded being the first to make a million for winning the Open, but it was a consolation which took some of the sting out of not winning,” after becoming the first woman to earn more than $1 million in her career in 1981.
Whitworth, who easily defeated Wimbledon singles champion Billie Jean King in 1967, was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year in 1965 and 1966. In 1982, Whitworth was enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Kathy Whitworth, who had 88 career wins and was the winningest golfer in history, has died. She was the first woman to earn $1M in the @LPGA.
I had the honor of meeting her. She loved her sport, and was a
trailblazer and a true champion.
May she rest in peace. https://t.co/wUV5nyLsyf
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 25, 2022
Over eight years, she won the LPGA Player of the Year award seven times (1966 through 1973). She was the top money earner in eight seasons and seven times the Vare Trophy winner for the lowest scoring average.
But she could only be recognized by the number 88. Snead set a record with 82 victories on the PGA Tour, which Woods has since surpassed. While Sorenstam had 72 victories when she retired after the 2006 season at 36, Wright had won 82 times on the LPGA Tour.
According to Betsy Rawls, who once spoke to Golf Digest, Mickey had the best swing and was likely the greatest golfer. But Kathy was the best gamer I’ve ever seen, in my opinion.
Whitworth learned to play golf in New Mexico after being born in the rural West Texas town of Monahan. She began at the age of 15 in Jal, New Mexico, on the nine-hole course constructed for El Paso Natural Gas employees.
She won the New Mexico State Amateur twice very quickly. She briefly attended Odessa College in Texas before turning professional at the age of 19 and joining the LPGA Tour in December 1958.
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Whitworth previously told Golf Digest, “I was incredibly fortunate in knowing what I wanted to do. My throat immediately seized me by Golf. You have no idea how much I adored it.
I used to believe that everyone understood their life goals by the time they were 15 years old. Wright’s stroke was more visually appealing. Whitworth was all about striving for excellence and success.
Whitworth had 11 victories in 1968 and eight events in 1963 and 1965. She never made more than $50,000 throughout any of those years. After all these years, the LPGA Tour’s entire prize pool will surpass $100 million in 2023.
Whitworth persisted in running junior clinics and participating in the match. She once remarked, “I don’t think about the legacy of 88 tournaments. “I didn’t do it to break a record or achieve an impossible objective; I did it because I wanted to win.
I’m not a major anomaly. Simply said, I was lucky to be so successful. I am not a better person due to what I did to improve as a player. “I feel that if people remember me at all, it will be good enough,” I said when asked how I would like to be remembered.
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