Kathy Whitworth set a new standard in golf, surpassing all others, including Tiger Woods, Sam Snead and Annika Sorenstam. Her 88 victories were the most ever for a professional golfer on a single tour.
Whitworth, who won nearly a quarter of a century of LPGA Tour wins and was the first woman to earn $1,000,000 on the LPGA, passed away on Christmas Eve, her long-time partner said. She was 83.
Bettye Odle did no give any details about the cause of Whitworths sudden death. She stated that Whitworth died while celebrating with friends and family.
Odle stated that Kathy left this world worth the way she lived it — loving, laughing and creating memories. Odle released a statement through the LPGA Tour.
Whitworth won the Kelly Girl Open July 1962, her first of 88 titles. Whitworth won six majors in her career, breaking Wrights record with 82 career wins. Whitworth won the Lady Michelob in 1982.
Her last victory was in 1985 at the United Virginia Bank Classic.
Whitworth once said, Winning never gets old.
The U.S. Womens Open was all that was missing in her career. It was the largest of all womens majors. After becoming the first woman to earn over $1 million in career earnings, she stated, I would have traded being first to win a million for being the winner of the Open. But it was a consolation that took some of the sting from not winning.
Whitworth was the AP Female Athlete of the year in 1965 and 1967. She easily defeated Billie Jean King, the Wimbledon singles champion. Whitworth was inducted into The World Golf Hall of Fame on February 22, 1982.
She was named the LPGA player-of-the-year seven times during an eight year span (1966-1973). She won the Vare trophy for lowest scoring average seven times, and was the top money winner in eight seasons.
She was however identified by a single number: 88.
Snead won a record 82 PGA Tour wins, a total Woods has matched. Wright won 82 times on LPGA Tour. Sorenstam won 72 when she retired from the tour in 2006.
Betsy Rawls once stated that Mickey had the best swing and was the most gifted golfer she knew. But Kathy was probably the best player of the game Ive ever seen.
Whitworth was born in Monahans in West Texas. She learned to golf in New Mexico. At age 15, Whitworth began playing on the nine-hole El Paso Natural Gas course in Jal, New Mexico.
Soon she was a two time winner of the New Mexico State Amateur. After briefly attending Odessa (Texas) College she became a pro golfer at the age of 19. She joined the LPGA Tour in December 1958.
Whitworth once said that he was very fortunate to know what he wanted to do. Golf just grabbed my throat. I cannot tell you how much it was my favorite thing. When I was 15 years old, I thought everyone knew what they wanted to be when they were.
Wright had the more appealing swing. Whitworth was all in the grind, and about winning.
Whitworth won eight awards in 1963 and 1965. She also won 11 times in 1968. In all of those years, Whitworth never earned more that $50,000. All these years later the LPGA Tour total prize funds for 2023 will exceed $100 million.
Whitworth continued to lead junior clinics, and he is still active in the game.
She once said, I dont think of the legacy of 88 tourneys. I did it because my goal was to win, not to set any record or achieve a goal that others could match. Im not a great oddity. I was lucky to be so successful. What I did as a better player does NOT make me a more successful person.
When I am asked how I would want to be remembered, my answer is that I believe if people remember me, it will be enough.