Kathrynne Ann Whitworth was born in Monahans, Texas, in 1939 and raised in Jal, New Mexico, where her father and mother ran a hardware store. A natural athlete, and inclined to play sports despite the social stigma this meant for someone of her gender in her generation, she took up golf at the age of 15 and showed enough promise from the start that a teacher of the highest repute took her on as a student -- the great Harvey Penick. At 19, Whitworth won her second consecutive New Mexico State Amateur championship and left a college in Odessa, Texas, where she had a golf scholarship, to turn pro.....
Whitworth seemed set to light up the women's golf world right from the start, but her fuse happened to be a slow one. In her first season on the circuit, 1959, she entered 26 events and won a grand total of $1,217 on the basis of a scoring average of 80.30. Nevertheless, she hung in there to become the biggest winner in American golf history.
It is difficult to imagine that the tall, slender, tautly muscled woman fans saw for so many years weighed over 200 pounds when she was in high school. "I'd probably be the fat lady in the circus if it hadn't been for golf," Whitworth once said. "It kept me out of the refrigerator."
As she gradually pared down to her playing weight, 145, which she maintained throughout her career, her game improved accordingly. In 1962, Whitworth won her first LPGA tournament, the Kelly Girl Open, and won one more that season.
(Editors of Publications International, Ltd.)
Photo: AP at GolfDigest
The name Kathy Whitworth is synonymous with winning. Kathy holds the record for most tournament victories, by a professional, male or female. 88 LPGA victories. Consider the great PGA TOUR professionals career wins - Sam Snead had 82 PGA Tour wins, followed by Jack Nicklaus with 73 victories. Kathy dominated the LPGA for over 20 years, winning an average of 3 LPGA tournaments per year, including 6 LPGA major championships. During that period, Kathy was the leading money winner 7 times…... and won the Vare Trophy 7 times. Kathy is a member of the prestigious LPGA Hall of Fame, World Golf Hall of Fame, Texas Sports and Golf Hall of Fame and New Mexico Hall of Fame.
Whitworth earned player of the year honors seven times and was named to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975. She twice captained the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
Whitworth used copious amounts of hair spray, and no matter how hot, she declined to wear hats or visors. That led Dottie Pepper to joke, "If Whit's hair moved, we knew it was a two-club wind."
Whitworth, 67, lives in suburban Dallas. She continues to appear at golf schools, clinics and corporate outings, many of them charity events. A prestigious, annual junior girls' tournament is named for her. She plays infrequently but on a good day from the men's tees can still score in the mid-70s. Whitworth remains involved in the LPGA Tour as a member of the commissioner's advisory committee.
(ESPN Internet Ventures)
Like Jack Nicklaus, who is four months younger, Whitworth's domination crossed generations. Both won at least once a record 17 consecutive years. Nicklaus started in the Arnold Palmer/Gary Player era and extended through Lee Trevino and Tom Watson into Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman. Whitworth began against Mickey Wright, Louise Suggs and Betsy Rawls and finished 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.
And if the achievements of Nicklaus or Whitworth need further validation, it resides in the what-might-have-been win. Nicklaus won a record 18 professional majors, and he was second 19 other times. In addition to Whitworth's 88 victories, she was runner-up a staggering 95 times—183 top-two finishes. In hindsight, all those second-place finishes bolster her reputation as a fierce competitor. But for nearly four years the near-misses led many to wonder if this raw talent would ever learn how to win.
Still a woman of athletic features stretched over a 5-foot-9 frame topped by a shock of stylishly short white hair, there remains a small-town directness about Whitworth, who was born in Monahans, a tiny dot on the west Texas map. Her parents owned a hardware store in Jal, where she grew up as the youngest of three daughters and learned golf with her grandfather's clubs on the nine-hole course built for employees of El Paso Natural Gas…..
When Whitworth talks about golf, it is with a passion that explains what drove her to success. When discussing a long-ago shot—"a knock-down cut 2-iron from 160 yards into a howling wind" over water to a back right pin to beat Hollis Stacy—her eyes sparkle as if seeing the ball in flight. "Winning never got old," says Whitworth, grateful she had the opportunity to develop a love affair with golf by learning on the course rather than on a practice range. "A lot of young players today don't have that chance. They can go hit balls, but they don't have the chance to just drag the bag along and learn how to play."…..
Two years after taking up the game at age 15, Whitworth won the 1957 New Mexico Women's Amateur, a success she repeated the next year. "Mickey (Wright) and I played an exhibition with her in Roswell, N.M., and she was this teenager and green, just starting out in golf," remembers Betsy Rawls, who also studied with Penick and won 55 times on the LPGA Tour, including four U.S. Women's Opens. "We never thought we'd see her on tour because she was just so unpolished. She learned to play on tour, and she learned it very well."…..
Whitworth started in an era of 35-player fields competing for $7,500. "When I went on tour in 1959, all you had to do was send in an application and 25 bucks," she says. It was not unusual for members of the host club to pop onto the course behind the last tee time. Players traveled by car, stayed in cheap hotels or with local families and did all the bookkeeping, scheduling and promotion for the tour themselves.
"I'm glad when I look back on it that I didn't succeed right away," says Whitworth. "When it happened, I was ready. I think some people win without even knowing how they won. I had lost some playoffs; I had come close a few times. You have to learn how to win. You learn by making mistakes and analyzing the round after the tournament and thinking back and saying, 'Ah, I should have … ' "…..
It is a name so synonymous with winning; many overlook the struggles along the way. Whitworth was simply a grinder who never gave up, on or off the course. "I think Mickey had the best swing, and was probably the greatest golfer," says Rawls, "but Kathy was the best player of the game that I have ever seen."
(Ron Sirak, A Legend Like No Other, July 6, 2009 at GolfDigest)
88 (most by any golfer on any individual tour)
• LPGA Championship: 1967, 1971, 1975
• Western Open: 1967
• Titleholders: 1965, 1966
Awards and Honors:
• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• 8-time LPGA Tour money leader (1965-68, 1970-73)
• 7-time LPGA Vare Trophy (scoring) winner (1965-67, 1969-72)
• 7-time LPGA Player of the Year winner (1966-69, 1971-73)
• Associated Press Athlete of the Year, 1965, 1967
• Served three terms as LPGA president
• Captain, U.S. Solheim Cup team, 1990, 1992
• Honoree at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament, 2002
• Member, Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame
1967: Ladies' World Series of Golf
1968: Ladies' World Series of Golf
1971: LPGA Four-Ball Championship (with Judy Kimball Simon)
1975: Colgate Triple Crown
1978: Portland PING Team Championship (with Donna Caponi)
1980: Portland PING Team Championship (with Donna Caponi)
1981: Portland PING Team Championship (with Donna Caponi)
Vare Trophy: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972
Player of the Year: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973
Solheim Cup Captain: 1990, 1992
(World Golf Hall of Fame)
Kathy Whitworth was the first woman professional golfer to pass the $1 million mark in career earnings. She broke the million-dollar plateau in 1981 when, at the age of 41, she won her 81st tournament. Whitworth’s dominance of the game cannot be fully measured by career earnings, however, since she began in the early days of the LPGA tour when purses were much smaller. Her performance over a nine-year period (1965-73) may never be matched. During that time she was the leading money-winner eight times, player of the year seven times, and holder of low scoring average seven times. Whitworth won at least one tournament a year for 17 consecutive years. She was twice named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press and in 1975 became the seventh member of the LPGA Hall of Fame. Whitworth was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.
(Texas Sports Hall of Fame)
From Michelle McGann
Black and white publicity photograph
1992 U.S. Solheim cup team
From Gallery of History, inc.
Kathrynne Ann Whitworth
From players thelegendstour