Kathy Whitworth, the most successful LPGA golfer with a record 88 titles, has died at the age of 83, the women’s tour announced Sunday.
Her wins are six more than Sam Snead and Tiger Woods, who hold the career record for the men’s game.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth has died at the age of 83,” the tour said on its official Twitter account.
A statement on the LPGA’s website by Bettye Odle, Whitworth’s long-time partner, said that “Kathy passed suddenly Saturday night celebrating Christmas Eve with family and friends.”
As well as her 88 tournament victories – which included six majors – Whitworth was runner-up 93 times in a career which started in 1959.
“I was really fortunate in that I knew what I wanted to do,” Whitworth once 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.”
Her great rival, Mickey Wright, ended her career with 82 titles. However, 13 of those came in the majors.
“Mickey was the greatest golfer, but Kathy was the greatest winner,” said LPGA co-founder Louise Suggs.
LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan described Whitworth as “one of the most incredible women.”
“Kathy was a champion in the truest sense of the word, both on the golf course and off,” she said in a statement.
Whitworth won at least once over a record 17 consecutive years, establishing her greatness against multiple generations of women’s golf stars.
Her first LPGA title came at the 1962 Kelly Girls Open and her last was captured at the 1985 United Virginia Bank Classic.