She's won more tournaments than any other professional golfer, male or female, but when Kathy Whitworth learned in 2005 that her home course, Trophy Club Country Club in Roanoke, Texas, was building a case to house her hardware and commemorate her 88 victories, she didn't think people would be interested. "Kathy is Kathy," says Bettye Odle, a good friend who oversaw the project. "She's not much for the spotlight."
This is an article from the July 13, 2009 issue
Whitworth, who retired from the senior tour that year, eventually okayed the idea, and now a 30-foot-long wooden case houses 40 of Whitworth's trophies and 88 nickel-plated plaques engraved with the details of her victories. The Texas native was a seven-time LPGA Player of the Year (from 1966 to '69, and 71 to '73) and a two-time AP Athlete of the Year (1965 and '66). In 1969, her 11th season on the tour, she became the LPGA's alltime money winner. Twelve years later she became the first woman golfer to surpass $1 million in earnings—Lorena Ochoa won more than $2.7 million in 2008 alone—and in '84, at the Rochester International in Pittsford, N.Y., she broke Sam Snead's record of 84 victories. "Sam was just great about it," says Whitworth, 69. "He called me in the press room when it finally happened."
Annika Sorenstam retired last year with 72 wins, leaving Tiger Woods, with 67, as the active golfer with the best chance of reaching Whitworth's 88. "Records are made to be broken," says Whitworth, who for the last 11 years has been on the committee for and lent her name to the Kathy Whitworth Invitational, a junior girls' tournament in Fort Worth. When she's not traveling around the country teaching golf, she plays some herself. "When I first stopped, I got a little bit ticked when I didn't play well," she says, "but I don't work at [the game]," before adding with a laugh, "I try to at least remember how to tee it up." She's also warming up to the recognition she receives at Trophy Club, from the ballroom and 18-hole course that bear her name to the case dedicated to her accomplishments. "When I look at it," says Whitworth, "it's like another lifetime."