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Golfing great with most pro victories of all time dies aged 83

Kathy Whitworth, a golfer who won more on one professional tour than anyone else, died at 83.

Her 88 wins are unmatched by anyone, not Sam Snead, Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam who are two of the most admired female golfers in history.

Whitworth, the first woman to earn $1m on the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association), died on Christmas Eve, her long-term partner stated.

Bettye Odle didn’t reveal the cause of Whitworth’s death but stated that Whitworth died suddenly Saturday night as she was celebrating with her family and friends.

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Odle stated that Kathy left this world worth the way she lived it – loving, laughing and creating memories,” in a statement released to the LPGA Tour.

Image: In 1967, Frank Robinson and Whitworth held their AP athlete-of-the year trophies. Pic: AP


“Winning never gets old”

Whitworth won her first of 88 titles at the Kelly Girls Opens in Juli 1962.

She won six majors during her career. In addition, she broke Mickey Wright’s record for 82 career wins.

The United Virginia Bank Classic was her final win.

Whitworth once stated, “Winning never gets old.”

Image: Whitworth, 1965. Pic: AP


Whitworth’s record with men and women

Snead won a record 82 times on the PGA Tour. Woods was matched at a total of 83.

Wright won 82 times on LPGA Tour. Sorenstam won 72 times when she retired from the tour in 2006.

None of them have ever come close to her 88 victories.

She once stated, “I don’t think about the legacy 88 tournaments,”

“I did it because my goal was to win, not to set any record or achieve a goal that anyone else could beat.

“I am not an oddity. It was luck that I was so successful.

“What I did to be a better player doesn’t make me a better person.”

Image: Whitworth at the Tournament of Champions in New York, 2006. Pic: AP


The missing title…

Golf Digest once quoted Betsy Rawls, a former golfer, as saying that Kathy was “the best player of the game I have ever seen.”

Her glittering career left her without a title: the US Women’s Open. This was the largest of all the women’s majors.

She was the first woman to earn $1m in career earnings and said that she would trade being the first to win the Open for the title of first woman to do so.

“But it was a consolation that took some of the sting from not winning.”

Image: Whitworth, 72, waits to start at the Raleigh LPGA Golf Tournament. Pic: AP


“Golf just grabbed my throat”

Whitworth was born in Monahans in west Texas. He began playing golf at the age of 15 in Jal (New Mexico) on the nine-hole El Paso Natural Gas course.

At 19 she became a professional golfer and joined the LPGA Tour December 1958.

Whitworth once said that golf “just grabbed me by my throat”, according to Golf Digest.

“I cannot tell you how much it was a joy.

“I used to believe that everyone knew what they wanted when they were fifteen years old.”

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