Kathy Whitworth: LPGA's Biggest Winner

Kathy Whitworth (pictured in 1975) won a record 88 times on the LPGA Tour.
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Kathy Whitworth won more tournaments on the LPGA Tour than any other golfer in tour history. No PGA Tour player ever won more than Whitworth, either. She was a giant on the LPGA in the 1960s and 1970s, but her competitive career stretched from the 1950s in the 1980s.

Fast Facts: Kathy Whitworth

  • Known For: Winning more golf tournaments that anyone else in the history of the LPGA Tour.
  • Born: September 27, 1939 in Monahans, Texas
  • Published Works: Golf For Women: Easy-to-follow Instruction from Pro Golf's Leading Tournament Winner and Kathy Whitworth's Little Book of Golf Wisdom: A Lifetime of Lessons from Golf's Winningest Pro
  • Key Accomplishments: Winner of 88 LPGA Tour tournaments, including six major championships; 8-time LPGA leading money winner; 7-time LPGA season scoring leader; 7-time LPGA Player of the Year winner.
  • Famous Quote: "When I'm asked how I would like to be remembered, I feel that if people remember me at all, it will be good enough."
  • Fun Fact: Whitworth captained the first two American Solheim Cup teams, in 1990 and 1992.

Number of Tour Wins and Major Championships

Whitworth won 88 LPGA Tour titles total, six more than the second-place golfer on the all-time LPGA wins list, Mickey Wright.

Of those 88, six were major championship wins: Whitworth won the LPGA Championship (now called the Women's PGA Championship) three times (1967, 1971, 1975), the Western Open once (1967) and the Titleholders twice (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

Kathy Whitworth Biography

Whitworth was born in Monahans, Texas, but most of her childhood was spent in New Mexico. She started playing golf late, at age 15, but by 1957, the year of her high school graduation, she was winning the New Mexico State Amateur. She won the same tournament again in 1958.

She briefly attended college in Odessa, Texas, before turning pro in 1958. It took Whitworth four years to get her first LPGA win (1962 Kelly Girl Open), but once it came, Whitworth's career exploded.

She won at least one tournament every year from 1962 through 1978, with many big seasons in the mix: eight wins in 1965, nine in 1966, eight in 1967 and 10 in 1968.

Her last great season was 1984 when she won three times, and her final victory came at the 1985 United Virginia Bank Classic. All told, there were 88 LPGA wins. At the time she retired, and for decades after, that was more than any other golfer on any of the world's major golf tours, with the exception of Jumbo Ozaki's 94 wins on the Japan Golf Tour.

During the 9-year period from 1965 through 1973, Whitworth won eight money titles, seven scoring titles and was named LPGA Player of the Year seven times.

Along the way, Whitworth served three stints as President of the LPGA Executive Board, where she helped shape policy and campaigned for the growth of the LPGA Tour.

Whitworth was both an excellent driver and a top putter. The only thing missing from her career is a U.S. Women's Open victory. Despite her record-setting win totals, Whitworth won "only" six majors. But that total was surely deflated by the fact that from 1968-71 and 1973-78, there were only two majors per year played on the LPGA Tour. The greats who preceded Whitworth played three or four majors most years, and most of the ones who followed her played four or five per year.

Whitworth continued playing in senior events after her LPGA Tour career ended, and also became a highly respected teacher of the game.

Quote, Unquote

Several notable quotes from Whitworth:

  • "There's an old saying, 'It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.' It's usually the player who misses those three-footers, not the putter."
  • "Golf, more than most games, has a number of cliches, often successfully disguised as 'tips.' Watch out!"
  • "No one ever conquers golf."

Whitworth Trivia

  • When Kathy Whitworth finished third in the 1981 U.S. Women's Open, she became the first LPGA player to surpass $1 million in career earnings.
  • Whitworth won at least one tournament every year from 1962 to 1978, a streak of 17 years. It's the longest such streak in LPGA history.