Kathy Whitworth, a legendary golfer who won an LPGA Tour record 88 times, has died, the organization and her partner announced Sunday. She was 83.
Bettye Odle, Whitworth’s longtime partner, and LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan made the announcement in statements released through the LPGA. Odle said Whitworth “passed suddenly” while celebrating Christmas Eve.
“It is with a heart full of love that we let everyone know of the passing of the winningest Golf Professional ever, Kathy Whitworth. Kathy passed suddenly Saturday night celebrating Christmas Eve with family and friends,” Odle said in a statement. “Kathy left this world the way she lived her life, loving, laughing and creating memories.”
Marcoux Samaan added: “The golf world and the world in general lost one of its most incredible women with the passing of Kathy Whitworth. Kathy was a champion in the truest sense of the word, both on the golf course and off. In the short time I spent with Kathy, I was truly blown away by her and her approach to the game and to life. Her strength, insightfulness and vibrancy were obvious from the minute you met her! She inspired me as a young girl and now as the commissioner and I know she did the same for so many others. We all mourn with Bettye, her family and the entire golf world.”
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Whitworth is considered to be one of the greatest female golfers of all time. Her 88 wins on the LPGA Tour included six LPGA major championships. She won the Women’s PGA Championship three times, the Titleholders Championship twice and the Western Open once.
She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975 after she was the LPGA Tour Player of the Year seven times and the LPGA Vare Trophy – which goes to the best scoring after by an LPGA player – seven times.
Whitworth’s greatness was underscored by a notion of committing to what you love to do and “learn from your mistakes,” according to the LPGA obituary for the golfer.
“I was really fortunate in that I knew what I wanted to do,” Whitworth previously said. “Golf just grabbed me by the throat. I can’t tell you how much I loved it. I used to think everyone knew what they wanted to do when they were 15 years old.”
Whitworth retired from competitive golf in 2005. Her last tournament was the BJ’s Charity Classic on the Women’s Senior Golf Tour.
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