It is one of the most famous records in golf: 88 victories over a span of 23 years, an average of 3.8 victories per season starting with the Kelly Girl Open in 1962 and ending with the United Virginia Bank Classic in 1985. In those three decades, Kathrynne Ann Whitworth surpassed the victory totals of Mickey Wright (82) and Sam Snead (82) to lodge herself atop the category of Most Tournament Victories By a Professional, Man or Woman.
Whitworth did this with what she considered average talent. “I never had a golf swing,” she said. But she did have staying power. From 1963-1973 she was leading money winner eight times, second on the money list twice and third once. In that span, she won the Vare Trophy and Player of the Year honors seven times each.
With all that success, it still took her until 1981 to become the first woman in golf to earn $1 million. Fifteen years later, Karrie Webb became the first woman to accomplish that feat in one year, and she did so with four victories and 12 top-five finishes. Whitworth had eight victories in 1963, eight victories in 1965 and 11 victories in 1968, and in none of those years did she make more than $50,000.