Golfer Kathy Whitworth, who has won more than any other player on a single professional tour, male or female, has died aged 83.

No one has matched his outstanding 88 wins, not the legendary Sam Snead or Tiger Woodsnor Mickey Wright and Annika Sorenstam, who are considered two of the greatest female golfers in history.

Whitworth, who became the first woman to win $1m (£829m) on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), died on Christmas Eve, her longtime partner has said.

Bettye Odle did not disclose her partner’s cause of death, but said Whitworth died suddenly on Saturday night while celebrating with family and friends.

“Kathy left it worthy of how she lived her life – to love, laugh and make memories,” Odle said in a statement released by the LPGA Tour.

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Baseball star Frank Robinson and Whitworth hold their AP Athlete of the Year trophies in 1967. Pic: AP

“Winning never got old”

Whitworth won the first of her 88 titles at the Kelly Girls Open in July 1962.

During her career, which spanned almost a quarter of a century, she won six major tournaments and broke Mickey Wright’s record of 82 career wins when she won the Lady Michelob in the summer of 1982.

His final victory came in 1985 at the United Virginia Bank Classic.

“Winning never got old,” Whitworth once said.

Kathy Whitworth of San Antonio, Texas reaches for the winners' cup as she leads the field of 36 heading into the final round on Sunday, Nov. 27, 1965 with a 54-hole total of 216 in women's titleholders golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Horace Cort) Pic: AP
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Whitworth in 1965. Photo: AP

Whitworth’s men’s and women’s record

Snead had a record 82 PGA Tour wins, a total that Woods has since matched.

Wright has won 82 times on the LPGA Tour, while Sorenstam had 72 when she retired after the 2006 season, aged 36.

None of them has yet touched their 88 victories.

“I don’t think about the legacy of 88 tournaments,” she once said.

“I did it because I wanted to win, not to set a record or a goal that no one else could beat.

“I’m not a big weirdo. I’ve just been lucky to be so successful.

“What I’ve done by being a better player doesn’t make me a better person.”

Kathy Whitworth responds to the crowd as she prepares to play during the Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, NY June 20, 2006. Former LPGA Tour player Whitworth, whose 88 wins are the most by any golfer on a single professional tour, died Saturday night, Dec. 24, 2022, his longtime partner said.  She was 83 years old.  (Carlos Ortiz/Democrat & Chronicle via AP, File)
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Whitworth at the Tournament of Champions in New York in 2006. Photo: AP

The only missing title…

Former golfer Betsy Rawls once told Golf Digest that “Kathy was the best player in the game I’ve ever seen.”

The only title missing from her brilliant career was the US Women’s Open, the biggest women’s tournament.

On becoming the first woman to earn $1 million in her career in 1981, she said: “I would have traded being the first to earn a million for winning the Open.

“But it was a consolation that took some of the sting out of not winning.”

Kathy Whitworth wipes sweat from her face while waiting to play the Raleigh LPGA golf tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina, July 22, 1972. Photo: AP
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Whitworth waits to play at the Raleigh LPGA golf tournament, 1972. Photo: AP

‘Golf just grabbed me by the throat’

Whitworth was born in Monahans, a small town in West Texas, and began playing at age 15 in Jal, New Mexico, on the nine-hole course built for the employees of El Paso Natural Gas.

She turned pro at 19 and joined the LPGA Tour in December 1958.

“Golf grabbed me by the throat,” Whitworth told Golf Digest.

“I can’t tell you how much I loved it.

“Before, I thought everyone knew what they wanted to do when they were 15.”

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