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Kathy Whitworth, world’s ‘most winning’ golfer, dies during family Christmas celebration

Her mother and father supported her amid a sluggish start to her pro career and she won the first of her 88 LPGA Tour titles at the Kelly Girls Open in 1962.

“I’m glad when I look back on it that I didn’t succeed right away,” Whitworth said.

“When it happened, I was ready.”

She went on to claim six major championships, was named LPGA Tour’s Player of the Year seven times and became the first LPGA player to pass $1 million in career earnings. She claimed her final title at the United Virginia Bank Classic in 1985.

“Winning never got old,” Whitworth said.

Her career included a rivalry with fellow late World Golf Hall of Famer Mickey Wright, who is second behind Whitworth in LPGA Tour wins with 82. Tiger Woods and Sam Snead are tied for the most wins on the PGA Tour with 82.

Her contemporaries said Whitworth’s fiercely competitive nature is what set her apart.

“She just had to win,” Betsy Rawls, another one of Whitworth’s rivals, said on the LPGA website.

“A lot like Mickey Wright and Louise Suggs. There’s just something that drives them. Kathy was a very intelligent person. It was unacceptable for her to make a mistake.

“She hated herself when she made a mistake. She was wonderful to play with — sweet as she could be, nice to everybody — but oh, man, she berated herself something awful. And that’s what drove her.”

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