The Tragic Death Of Golfing Legend Kathy Whitworth

Kathy Whitworth, touted as the winningest golfer in history, has died. She was 83 years old.

Her death was confirmed by her longtime partner, Bettye Odle, through the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She said Whitworth died on Christmas Eve surrounded by people she held dear. "It is with a heart full of love that we let everyone know of the passing of the winningest Golf Professional ever, Kathy Whitworth. Kathy passed suddenly Saturday night celebrating Christmas Eve with family and friends," Odle said in a statement. "Kathy left this world the way she lived her life, loving, laughing and creating memories." The cause of death has yet to be disclosed, but LPGA spokesperson Christina Lance shared that the pro athlete collapsed while attending a neighborhood Christmas party in her hometown in Texas, per The New York Times.

To say that Whitworth was a legend in golf would be an understatement. She clinched a total of 88 wins on the LPGA Tour, more than Tiger Woods has achieved in his career, per CNN.

Kathy Whitworth loved golf all her life

Kathy Whitworth was one of the lucky ones who knew their calling at a young age. She began playing golf in her teens and quickly realized her passion for it. "I was really fortunate in that I knew what I wanted to do," she said (via LPGA). "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."

And thrive in golf she did. The New York Times notes that Whitworth joined the pros at age 19 before becoming the first female golfer to bring home $1 million in prize money during a period where purses were scant. It also didn't take long until she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Aside from her 88 LPGA Tour wins, Whitworth won six majors and was the recipient of the LPGA Player of the Year award seven times. 

"Kathy was a champion in the truest sense of the word," LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said. "Her strength, insightfulness and vibrancy were obvious from the minute you met her! She inspired me as a young girl and now as the commissioner and I know she did the same for so many others."