The Greatest Golfer in History, Kathy Whitworth Dies at Age 83

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.

Whitworth passed away on Christmas Eve, according to her lifelong partner. Her LPGA Tour triumphs stretched over a quarter of a century, and she was the first woman to earn $1 million for her career 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.

In a statement provided by the LPGA Tour, Odle said, “Kathy left this world the way she spent her life – loving, laughing, and creating memories.”

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.

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In 1985, she achieved her last triumph at the United Virginia Bank Classic.

“Winning never got old,” Whitworth once said.

All that was missing from her career was the U.S. Women’s Open, the biggest of the women’s majors. Upon being the first woman to surpass $1 million in career earnings in 1981, she said, “I would have swapped being the first to make a million for winning the Open, but it was a consolation which took some of the stings out of not winning.”

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

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

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 Dies at Age 83
Kathy Whitworth Dies at Age 83

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.

“I think Mickey had the best swing and was probably the greatest golfer,” Betsy Rawls once told Golf Digest. “But Kathy was the best game player I have ever seen.”

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