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Former LPGA Star Kathy Whitworth Dies at 83; All-Time Wins Leader on Single Pro Tour

Doric Sam

LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth, whose 88 victories are the most by any player on a single professional tour, died on Saturday at the age of 83.

Per ESPN, Whitworth's longtime partner Bettye Odle said she died suddenly on Saturday night while celebrating the holidays with family and friends. A cause of death has not been provided.

"Kathy left this worth the way she lived her life—loving, laugh and creating memories," Odle said in a statement.

Whitworth's illustrious career spanned over two decades, as she won the first of her 88 titles in July 1962 in the Kelly Girl Open and she recorded her final victory in 1985 at the United Virginia Bank Classic. She won six majors during her career, and she became the first woman to earn $1 million on the LPGA Tour.

When she won the Lady Michelob in 1982, she surpassed Mickey Wright's record of 82 LPGA wins. That number still stands as the PGA Tour record, shared by Tiger Woods and Sam Snead.

The one major that escaped Whitworth during her career was the U.S. 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.

Whitworth earned LPGA player of the year seven times from 1966 to 1973. She was named AP Female Athlete of the Year twice in 1965 and 1967, and in 1982, she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Upon her retirement, Whitworth continued on in the sport by conducting junior clinics. Despite her enormous amount of success, she remained humble through it all.

"I don't think about the legacy of 88 tournaments," she said. "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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