The LPGA was struggling on the time despite featuring good golfers like Wright, Rawls and Louise Suggs. Galleries were relatively sparse and touring players sought out low-budget hotels and traveled by auto.
Whitworth didn’t win a tournament until her fourth 12 months on the tour, when she captured the Kelly Girl Open. She cited her second victory, later in 1962, on the Phoenix Thunderbird Open as giving her the boldness to face up to pressure.
Whitworth was approaching the ultimate hole at that event, dueling for the title with Wright, who was playing behind her. She didn’t know Wright’s rating on the time since there was no leader board, but, “I made a choice to go at the opening,” she told Golf Digest, although “the pin was stuck behind a trap.”
“I whipped it in there about 15 feet and made the birdie,” she recalled.
She won by 4 strokes and established herself as a force on the tour with eight victories in 1963.
Whitworth recorded her 88th LPGA victory in May 1985 on the United Virginia Bank tournament. She competed on the ladies’s senior circuit, the Legends Tour, then retired from competitive golf in 2005.
In her later years, Whitworth lived within the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound, gave golf lessons, conducted clinics and arranged a junior women’s tournament in Fort Price. A picket case at her home course, Trophy Club Country Club in Roanoke, Tex., houses quite a few trophies and 88 nickel-plated plaques engraved with details of her victories.
The LPGA statement identified Bettye Odle as Whitworth’s longtime partner. It didn’t list other survivors, and Golf magazine reported last 12 months that Whitworth’s sisters, Carlynne and Evelynne, had died.