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Kathy Whitworth, winningest golfer in history, dies at 83



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Kathy Whitworth set a benchmark in golf nobody has ever touched, whether or not it was Sam Snead or Tiger Woods, Mickey Wright or Annika Sorenstam. Her 88 victories are essentially the most by any participant on a single skilled tour.

Whitworth, whose LPGA Tour victories spanned almost a quarter-century and who grew to become the primary lady to earn $1 million for her profession on the LPGA, died on Christmas Eve, her longtime associate mentioned. She was 83.

Her associate, Bettye Odle, didn’t disclose a explanation for dying, saying solely that Whitworth died abruptly Saturday night time whereas celebrating with household and buddies.

“Kathy left this world the way in which she lived her life — loving, laughing and creating recollections,” Odle mentioned in an announcement launched by the LPGA Tour.

Whitworth gained the primary of her 88 titles within the Kelly Ladies Opens in July 1962. She gained six majors throughout her profession and broke Mickey Wright’s file of 82 profession wins when Whitworth captured the Girl Michelob in the summertime of 1982.

Her ultimate victory got here in 1985 on the United Virginia Financial institution Traditional.

“Profitable by no means obtained previous,” Whitworth as soon as mentioned.

All that was lacking from her profession was the U.S. Girls’s Open, the most important of the ladies’s majors. Upon being the primary lady to surpass $1 million in profession earnings in 1981, she mentioned, “I’d have swapped being the primary to make one million for successful the Open, but it surely was a comfort which took among the sting out of not successful.”

Sorenstam referred to her on Twitter because the LPGA’s all-time victory chief and a “complete class act” who might be dearly missed.

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

Whitworth was the AP Feminine Athlete of the Yr in 1965 and in 1967, when she simply beat out Wimbledon singles champion Billie Jean King. Whitworth was inducted into the World Golf Corridor of Fame in 1982.

She was the LPGA participant of the yr seven occasions in an eight-year span (1966 via 1973). She gained the Vare Trophy for the bottom scoring common seven occasions and she or he was the main cash winner in eight seasons.

However she was recognized by one quantity — 88.

Snead was credited with a file 82 wins on the PGA Tour, a complete Woods has since matched. Wright gained 82 occasions on the LPGA Tour, whereas Sorenstam had 72 wins when she retired after the 2006 season at age 36.

“I believe Mickey had the perfect swing, and was in all probability the best golfer,” Betsy Rawls as soon as advised Golf Digest. “However Kathy was the perfect participant of the sport that I’ve ever seen.”

Whitworth was born in Monahans, a small West Texas city, and realized to play golf in New Mexico. She began at age 15 in Jal, New Mexico, on the nine-hole course constructed for the El Paso Pure Gasoline workers.

She quickly was a two-time winner of the New Mexico State Newbie. After briefly attending Odessa (Texas) Faculty, she turned professional at age 19 and joined the LPGA Tour in December 1958.

“I used to be actually lucky in that I knew what I wished to do,” Whitworth as soon as advised Golf Digest. “Golf simply grabbed me by the throat. I can’t inform you how a lot I liked it. I used to suppose everybody knew what they wished to do once they had been 15 years previous.”

Wright had the extra aesthetically pleasing swing. Whitworth was all about grinding, and about successful.

Whitworth gained eight occasions in 1963 and 1965, and she or he had 11 victories in 1968. In none of these years did she earn greater than $50,000. All these years later, the LPGA Tour complete prize fund for 2023 will prime $100 million.

Whitworth continued to conduct junior clinics and keep lively within the recreation.

“I don’t take into consideration the legacy of 88 tournaments,” she as soon as mentioned. “I did it as a result of I wished to win, to not set a file or a aim that nobody else might surpass. I’m not some nice oddity. I used to be simply lucky to be so profitable. What I did in being a greater participant doesn’t make me a greater individual.

“Once I’m requested how I wish to be remembered, I really feel that if folks bear in mind me in any respect, it is going to be ok.”