Ben Hogan described her swing as the best he ever saw. So did Byron Nelson. For 14 years, she dominated women’s golf, winning 82 tournaments and carrying the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour on her shoulders. Mickey Wright was not burdened by potential. Potential, in her words, was but a hope to be fulfilled. What made her retire, at age 34, was the burden of being Mickey Wright.
“The pressure was so great,” remembers Kathy Whitworth. “Sponsors threatened to cancel their tournaments if she didn’t play. And, knowing that if they canceled, the rest of us wouldn’t be able to play, Mickey would always play.”
The buzzword today is burnout. Wright played 33 tournaments in 1962, another 30 in 1963 and 27 in 1964. She won 10, 13 and 11 tournaments in those years, and as the LPGA’s president, it was Wright’s duty to promote the tour by doing every conceivable interview and attending every press conference that was scheduled. That just wasn’t her. “I’m not real good as far as wanting to be in front of people, glorying in it and loving it,” Wright has said. “I think you have to love that to make that kind of pressure tolerable. It finally got to where it wasn’t tolerable to me.”