THE most victorious golfer in history, Kathy Whitworth, has died at age 83.
With 88 wins, Whitworth achieved the most victories by any player on a single professional tour.
Her LPGA Tour wins spanned nearly a quarter-century and she became the first woman to earn $1million in her career.
Whitworth’s death on Christmas Eve was confirmed by her longtime partner.
Her cause of death is unknown but Bettye Odle, her partner, said that it was sudden as she celebrated with family and friends.
“Kathy left this world the way she lived her life – loving, laughing and creating memories,” Odle said in a statement.
The first of Whitworth’s 88 titles was in the Kelly Girls Open in July 1962.
She won six majors during her career and would break Mickey Wright’s record of 82 carer wins when she captured the Lady Michelob in the summer of 1982.
Her last win was in 1985 at the United Virginia Bank Classic.
“Winning never got old,” she once said.
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The only major award that Whitworth didn’t receive was the coveted US Women’s Open.
“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 sting out of not winning,” she said in 1981.
Fellow golfer Annika Sorenstam, called Whitworth LPGA’s all-time victory leader and “total class act” who will be dearly missed.
“Thanks for setting the bar so high, Kathy,” she wrote.
Whitworth was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year in 1965 and 1967, beating Wimbledon singles champion Billie Jean King.
She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1982.
“I think Mickey had the best swing, and was probably the greatest golfer,” Betsy Rawls told Golf Digest in an interview. “But Kathy was the best player of the game that I have ever seen.”
Despite being the most “winningest” golfer in history, Whitworth said she wasn’t concerned about breaking records.
“I don’t think about the legacy of 88 tournaments,” she said.
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“I did it because I wanted to win, not to set a record or a goal that no one else could surpass. I’m not some great oddity. I was just fortunate to be so successful. What I did in being a better player does not make me a better person.
“When I’m asked how I would like to be remembered, I feel that if people remember me at all, it will be good enough.”
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