Kathy Whitworth, the golfer with more victories in a professional tour than any other player, male or female, has died at the age of 83.
No one can match her outstanding 88 victories, the legendary Sam Snead or tiger woodsnor Mitch Wright and Annika Sorenstam, considered two of the greatest female golfers of all time.
Whitworth, who became the first woman to earn $1m (£829m) in the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association), died on Christmas Eve, her longtime partner said.
Betty Odell did not disclose her partner’s cause of death, but said Whitworth died suddenly while celebrating with family and friends on Saturday night.
“Kathy left this world the way she lived her life — loving, laughing and making memories,” Odell said in a statement released by the LPGA Tour.
“Victory never fails”
In July 1962, Whitworth won the first of her 88 titles at the Kelly Ladies Open.
During her nearly quarter-century career, she won six majors and broke Mitch Wright’s career record of 82 victories when she captured Lady Michelob in the summer of 1982.
Her last victory was the 1985 Union Bank of Virginia Classic.
“Victory never gets old,” Whitworth once said.
whitworth records among men and women
Snead has since tied Woods’ total with a record 82 victories on the PGA Tour.
Wright has 82 wins on the LPGA Tour, while Sorenstam had 72 when she retired after the 2006 season, when she was 36.
Not one of them touched her 88 victories.
“I don’t think about the legacy of 88 games,” she once said.
“I do it because I want to win, not because I want to set a record or a goal that no one else can beat.
“I’m not a weird person. I’ve been very lucky to have had such success.
“Everything I do to become a better player doesn’t make me a better person.”
A missing header…
Former golfer Betsy Rawls once told Golf Digest, “Kathy is the best golfer I’ve ever met”.
The only title missing from her illustrious career is the U.S. Women’s Open, the largest of the women’s majors.
After becoming the first woman to make $1 million in career earnings in 1981, she said: “I’d rather be the first to make $1 million than win the British Open.
“But it’s a consolation, it takes some of the sting out of not winning.”
“Golf got down my throat”
Whitworth was born in the western Texas town of Monahans and started playing at age 15 on the nine-hole course Jull, New Mexico built for employees of the El Paso Gas Company.
She turned pro at age 19 and joined the LPGA Tour in December 1958.
“Golf is like a stranglehold for me,” Whitworth once told Golf Digest.
“I can’t tell you how much I love it.
“I used to think everyone knew what they wanted to do at 15.”