Kathy Whitworth, the winningest golfer in history, died on Christmas Eve at the age of 83.
“It is with a heart full of love that we let everyone know of the passing of the winningest Golf Professional ever, Kathy Whitworth,” her long-time partner Bettye Odle, said in a statement released by the LPGA. “Kathy passed suddenly Saturday night celebrating Christmas Eve with family and friends.”
She continued, “Kathy left this world the way she lived her life, loving, laughing, and creating memories.”
Whitworth was born in Monahans, Texas, in 1939, and grew up in Jal, New Mexico. She began her professional career with the LPGA in 1958, and her career took off in the 1960s. Between 1962 and 1985, she amassed a total of 88 LPGA victories, making her the winningest golfer of all time.
In 1981, she became the first LPGA player to earn over one million in prize money, and she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame the following year. She retired in 2005.
Whitworth collapsed on Saturday while attending a neighborhood Christmas party in Flower Mound, Texas, on Saturday, The New York Times reports. She died soon after.
“The golf world and the world in general lost one of its most incredible women with the passing of Kathy Whitworth,” LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in the statement released by the LPGA. “Kathy was a champion in the truest sense of the word, both on the golf course and off.”
She added, “We all mourn with Bettye, her family and the entire golf world.”
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