“It is Kathy Whitworth Kathy Whitworth with a heart full of love Kathy Whitworth that we permit anyone realize of the passing of the winningest Golf Professional ever, Kathy Whitworth. Kathy handed all at once Saturday night time celebrating Christmas Eve with family and friends. Kathy left this world the manner she lived her life, loving, giggling and developing recollections.” – Bettye Odle, long-time companion of Kathy Whitworth
“The golf global and the arena in wellkKathy Whitworth nown lost one in all its most first rate women with the passing of Kathy Whitworth. Kathy become a champion in the truest experience of the word, each on the golf path and off. In the quick time I spent with Kathy, I become sincerely blown away by using her and her technique Kathy Whitworth to the game and to life. Her energy, insightfulness and vibrancy were apparent from the minute you met her! She Kathy Whitworth inspired me as a young girl and now because the commissioner and I recognize she did the same for so many others. We all mourn with Bettye, her circle of relatives and the entire golfing global.” – LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan
REMEMBERING KATHY WHITWORTH – GOLF’S GREATEST WINNER
The eating room at Trophy Club Country Club close to Flower Mound, Texas, gazes upon the rolling hills and antique okaytrees through which publications meander, one named for the club’s most well-known member, Kathy Whitworth, the opposite the lone layKathy Whitworth out via the icon of Texas golfing, Ben Hogan.
Inside the eating room the wall opposite the windows appears before everything to be a shrine to the rich golfing records of a state that gave the game Hogan, Byron Nelson and Babe Zaharias, among others. The glass case strolling nearly the period of the room overflows with the spoils of victory.
But closer inspection well-knownshows the hardware Kathy Whitworth was all earned by using just one daughter of the Lone Star State —Kathy Whitworth — whose 88 LPGA victories are the most ever on a professional excursion.
Whitworth, who at the side of Kathy Whitworth Mickey Wright gave the game golfing’s finest rivalry, handed away on Saturday night, December 24, at the same time as celebrating Christmas Eve with friends. She was eighty three. As LPGA Founder Louise Suggs said: “Mickey become the finest golfer, however Kathy was the best winner.”
That Whitworth usual this kind of career after a rookie season in 1959 in which she had a stroke common of 80.30, received most effective $1,217, Kathy Whitworth coming inside a hairsbreadth of quitting, is testimony of the grittiness that described her.
What started as a plan concocted round her family’s kitchen desk in Jal, New Mexico, a company metropolis tucked to this point in the southeast nook of the kingdom that it is nearly in Texas, ended up being a blueprint for greatness, albeit one that needed years to pencil in all of the lines.
There turned into purpose all through Whitworth’s early LPGA seasons to assume she turned into by no means going to win, let alone set a report that can by no means be damaged. If there’s a lesson from Whitworth’s odyssey it’s miles this: Do what you like, decide to it completely and study out of your mistakes.
“I became simply fortunate in that I knew what I desired to do,” Whitworth stated. “Golf just grabbed me via the throat. I can’t tell you how a good deal I cherished it. I used to suppose everyone knew what they desired to do after they had been 15 years vintage.”
Whitworth’s domination crossed generations as she received as a minimum as soon as a Kathy Whitworth document 17 consecutive years. She started out in opposition to Wright, Suggs and Betsy Rawls and completed with Nancy Lopez, Betsy King and Beth Daniel. Along the way she tussled with Carol Mann, Judy Rankin and JoAnne Carner — a Hall of Fame roster towards whom she set up her report range of wins.
And in addition to Whitworth’s 88 victories, she became runner-up a extraordinary 93 times — 181 top- finishes.
Whitworth, whose athletic capabilities stretched over a 5-foot-nine frame, changed into Kathy Whitworth born in Monahans, a tiny dot at the west Texas map. Her parents owned a hardware shop in Jal, in which she grew up as the youngest of three daughters and found out golf with her grandfather’s clubs at the nine-hole path constructed for personnel of El Paso Natural Gas.
When Whitworth pointed out golfing, it turned into with a ardour that defined what drove her. Discussing an extended-in the past shot — “a knock-down reduce 2-iron from one hundred sixty yards right into a howling wind” over water to a lower back proper pin to overcome Hollis Stacy—her eyes sparkled as though seeing the ball in flight.
“Winning in no way got vintage,” stated Whitworth, who advanced a love affair with golf by using mastering at the direction in preference to on a practice range.
“A lot of younger gamers nowadays do not have that hazard,” she said. “They can move hit balls, but they don’t have the chance to simply drag the bag along and learn how to play.”
Her first trainer became Hardy Loudermilk, the seasoned at Jal, who was pals with Austin’s Harvey Penick. When Whitworth turned into 17 Loudermilk brought her to Penick.
“Hardy and Harvey might speak on the telephone,” she stated, “and Harvey would tell him what I became running on and what to look for so Hardy became a surrogate, so to speak.”
Two years after taking up the game at age 15, Whitworth won the 1957 New Mexico Women’s Amateur, a achievement she repeated the following yr.
“Mickey [Wright] and I played an exhibition together with her in Roswell, N.M., and she became this teenager and green, simply beginning out in golfing,” remembered Rawls, who additionally studied with Penick and received 55 LPGA events.
“We in no way idea we’d see her on tour due to the fact she changed into simply so unpolished,” Rawls said. “She discovered to play on excursion, and she or he found out it very well.”
But the on-the-activity education Kathy Whitworth involved a lot of Kathy Whitworth dropping. Fortunately, her father and more than one neighborhood businessmen subsidized Kathy with $five,000 a 12 months for three years.
“I nearly quit due to the fact I was gambling so awful,” Whitworth said. “I went home after being on excursion 3 or four months, and I thought, ‘I simply don’t know if I am right enough.’ I changed into talking to
Mom and Dad around the kitchen table, which we normally did, and that they stated, ‘Well, you have got three years. If you don’t make it, simply come domestic and we will do something else.’ When they stated that it kind of took the stress off me.’
Whitworth won her first test at the Land of the Sky Open in Asheville, N.C. “Thirty bucks,” she stated. “Tied for remaining-region cash, but you’ll have concept I won the event.”
But there had been five second-region finishes and 3½ years on excursion earlier than Whitworth claimed her first victory, at the 1962 Kelly Girls Open.
“I absolutely failed to win it,” she stated with ordinary self-deprecation. “Sandra Haynie three-putted the remaining hole and gave it to me.”
Whitworth notched six greater runner-up finishes before she were given her 2d win at the Phoenix Thunderbird Open later that 12 months.
If a career could ever be decreased to at least one shot — and it is in no way that easy — it changed into the technique Whitworth hit on the final hole at Phoenix.
“I factor to the second one [victory] as the one that made the first one no longer only a fluke,” Whitworth stated.
“It boiled down to Mickey and I the closing 9 holes, and Mickey turned into gambling behind me,” Whitworth said. “I wasn’t positive what the unfold became [because there was no leader board], however I made a decision to go at the hollow. The pin turned into stuck in the back of a entice. I notion, ‘If I am going to [win], I cannot back away.’ So I whipped it in there approximately 15 feet and made the birdie.”
Whitworth gained by way of 4 strokes.
“That gave me a lot of self assurance to suppose that I ought to play knowing I was in rivalry,” she stated. “I did not ought to again away.”
The next year she gained eight instances. Seven instances in her 33-year career, she gained seven or more tournaments in a season. In 1981, Whitworth have become the first LPGA player to bypass $1 million in career income.
“She simply needed to win,” says Rawls. “A lot like Mickey Wright and Louise Suggs. There’s simply some thing that drives them. Kathy turned into a very sensible person. It became unacceptable for her to make a Kathy Whitworth mistake. She hated herself while she made a mistake. She became excellent to play with — candy as she could be, Kathy Whitworth satisfactory to each person — however oh, man, she berated herself something awful. And that is what drove her.”
From her maiden victory to her closing, the 1985 United Virginia Bank Classic, Whitworth became relentless. Everyone has testimonies about how Whitworth carried on a jogging communicate with herself about how she did not should be a professional golfer. The requirements she set had been unreasonable to absolutely everyone except her.
“From 100 yards in she wasn’t looking to get it near, she turned into looking to hole it,” said Greg Sheridan, who caddied for Whitworth overdue in her profession.
Whitworth started out in an era of 35-participant fields competing for $7,500. Players traveled through automobile, stayed in reasonably-priced resorts or with nearby families and did all the bookkeeping, scheduling and promoting for the Tour themselves.