Golf

Women's golf great Mickey Wright dies

2020-02-18 07:16

Los Angeles - Thirteen-time major winner Mickey Wright, often described as the greatest woman golfer of all time, died on Monday aged 85.

Wright, who accumulated 82 LPGA Tour titles during a professional career which stretched from 1954 to 1969, died in Florida after a heart attack, reports said.

"We're saddened to learn today of the passing of Mickey Wright, a 13-time Major Champion and 82-time winner on the @LPGA, just three days after celebrating her birthday," the World Golf Hall of Fame announced on Twitter.

"One of the best to ever play the game, she will be greatly missed. #RIPMickey."

Born Mary Kathryn Wright in San Diego, California in 1935, Wright enjoyed a stellar amateur career which included a US Girls Junior Championship in 1952.

She won the 1954 World Amateur Championship before turning professional the following season.

Her haul of 13 major victories included four US Women's Open titles and four US Women's PGA Championships. Only Patty Berg, who had 15 major wins, has won more.

Her retirement in 1969 shocked women's golf, coming at the relatively early age of 34.

Wright would later cite the pressure of the spotlight as influencing her decision to step away from the sport.

"It was a lot of pressure to be in contention week after week for five or six years," Wright said in a 2000 interview. "I guess they call it burnout now, but it wore me out. Unless you're a golfer, you can't understand the tension and pressure of tournament play.

"And it was the expectations: It was always, 'What's wrong with your game? 'Are you coming apart?' Second or third isn't bad, but it feels bad when you've won 44 tournaments in four years.

"I'm not real good as far as wanting to be in front of people, glorying in it and loving it. 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."

Kathy Whitworth, who holds the record for LPGA Tour wins with 88 titles, believes Wright would easily have beaten her career haul had she continued playing.

"She was the best I've ever seen, man or woman," Whitworth said in 2015.

"I've had the privilege of playing with Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and all of them. And some of our ladies had wonderful swings. But nobody hit it like Mickey, just nobody.

"She had 82 wins, but she would have won over 100 with no trouble if she had stayed on tour."

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