A Great Who Never Knew It
I never knew Kathy Whitworth during the years when she was the most dominating player on the LPGA Tour. But I would guess her personality was the exact same when she was winning 88 times as it is now ' reserved, extremely polite, humble, modest beyond belief.
A lot of the current generation of golf fans didnt know her, either. That will be rectified at the Memorial this week when she and the late Bobby Locke are the honorees. To see this great - if modest - lady honored is sweet, indeed.
I was around her in the 80s and 90s. It was in the 60s and 70s that she was walking all over the LPGA, winning just about every time she brushed her teeth. It makes no difference, though, when she was winning and when she finally stopped winning. Class never fades, and Kathy Whitworth had it in abundance.
It will come as a surprise to most of us that Whitworth once had a weight problem. As a golfer, she was tall (5-feet-9) and slender. She remembers, though, when she was a junior Roseanne instead of a little Nancy Reagan.
I was big enough to carry that bass drum in high school, Kathy says with a laugh. I was 5-feet-7 and weighed 215 pounds.
She went on a stringent diet, though, and lost 40 pounds in five months. Since then she has lost even more weight. Now she weighs just 145, which is 60 pounds below her weight in high school. That type of dedication, however, has been her trademark throughout her adult career.
Whitworth began playing at the relatively advanced age of 15. She must have been a natural ' in three years time, she won the first of two successive New Mexico state amateur championships.
She was the daughter M.C. Whitworth, who owned a hardware store in Jal, N.M. Her father, Hardy Loudermilk (the pro at Jals nine-hole course), and two Jal businessmen fronted her $5,000 a year for three years. She was to return 50 percent of the prize money she earned.
She went on tour with her mother. The two found expenses ran about $150 a week (this was 1959, remember), and Kathy wasnt making any money.
It was terrible, recalled Whitworth in a Golf Digest interview. I wanted to quit, but mother and father talked me out of it. I didnt know any of the other girls, and I felt they didnt want me around.
Mother was as scared as I was after I found I couldnt step right in and win. Sometimes Id cry and feel sorry for myself, and she try to buck me up. Then shed cry and Id try to comfort her.
Finally, six months after she started, Whitworth won a prize - $33 ' for finishing 16th at Asheville, N.C. Ill never forget that day as long as I live, she said.
Still, it was two years before she finally won. That was the 1962 Kelly Girl Open, and when it rained, it poured. Before it finally ended, in 1985, she had established a win record that is seven more than the PGA Tours mark ' 81 by Sam Snead.
Kathy returned to enter the Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions in 1995, by request of the LPGA. She has a quiet pride, however, and after a first-round score of 80, she wanted to drop out. The most prolific player in womens golf sat by herself in an upstairs corner of the clubhouse, not content just merely to be on parade for the gallery. She was 54 years old, yet if she had a club in her hand, she felt she had to be in contention.
I dont know why you want to talk to me, she said with a nervous little laugh. She never thought that people are tremendously interested in what she had to say, regardless of what her final score was.
By the way, she continued playing, and she shot in the 70s her next three rounds. She also defeated three of her much younger opponents that week.
Whitworth went through another financial crises around 1990. She ' and a lot of other professional athletes ' had sunk most of her money in a business venture called Technical Equities. It turned out to be fraudulent, and Whitworth lost most of her nest egg. Kathys playing career was virtually over and she had no means by which to recoup the $300,000 she lost.
Her only income consisted of an equipment contract with Wilson, fees for writing for a womens golf magazine, and an instructional booklet. She consequently had to sell her Fort Worth home that she had planned for her retirement.
Im not destitute, she said at the time, but when I think of all the money that got away
So she started all over, giving lessons, teaching at a golf school in West Columbia, Texas. She lent her name expertise to a brand of golf clubs. And today, she is back on her feet again.
She is like an aunt to everyone, this lady who never seems to have a bad day. She is honest to a fault, answering every question put to her, yet never bad-mouthing. She is just Kathy. The golf world is much better for her presence.
DJ, McIlroy, Spieth listed as PGA betting favorites
Three majors are in the books, but there's still one more trophy up for grabs in two weeks' time.
While next year The Open will signal the end of the 2019 major season amid a revamped calendar, this is the final year that the PGA Championship will be held in August. The tournament returns next month to Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis, which last hosted the PGA when Nick Price won in 1992 and hasn't hosted a PGA Tour event since Camilo Villegas won the 2008 BMW Championship.
Oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published PGA betting odds shortly after the final putt dropped at Carnoustie and Francesco Molinari left with the claret jug. Topping the board are a trio of major champions: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, all listed at 12/1.
McIlroy won the PGA in both 2012 and 2014, while Spieth needs only the Wanamaker Trophy to round out the career Grand Slam. Johnson has recorded four top-10s in the PGA, notably a T-5 finish at Whistling Straits in 2010 when a few grains of sand kept him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.
Fresh off a T-6 finish in Scotland, Tiger Woods headlines the group listed at 16/1, behind only the three co-favorites as he looks to win a 15th career major.
Here's a look at the betting odds for a number of contenders, with the opening round of the PGA just 17 days away:
12/1: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
16/1: Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
18/1: Justin Rose
20/1: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Jason Day
30/1: Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Paul Casey
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar
60/1: Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson
80/1: Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner
100/1: Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters, Tyrrell Hatton, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman
Molinari moves to No. 6 in world with Open win
After breaking through for his first career major title, Francesco Molinari reached some rarified air in the latest installment of the Official World Golf Rankings.
The Italian's two-shot win at Carnoustie moved him up nine spots to No. 6 in the world, not surprisingly a new career high. But it's also a quick ascent for Molinari, who has now won three of his last six worldwide starts and was ranked No. 33 in the world after missing the cut at The Players Championship two months ago.
A share of second place helped Xander Schauffele jump from No. 24 to No. 18 in the updated standings, while the same result meant Kevin Kisner went from No. 33 to No. 25. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy both went up one spot after T-2 finishes to No. 2 and No. 7, respectively - a new career high for Rose.
The drama in the rankings unfolded at No. 50, as Tiger Woods moved up 21 spots to exactly No. 50 following his T-6 finish. While some projections had him moving to 51st, Woods was able to sneak into the top 50 just in time to qualify for a return to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as the top 50 in the rankings both this week and next qualify for Akron.
That includes Zach Johnson, last year's runner-up who was not yet qualified but moved from No. 52 to No. 49 this week. It also includes Kevin Chappell, who went from 61st to 47th with a T-6 finish in Scotland.
Despite missing the cut at Carnoustie, Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for another week followed by Rose, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Molinari is now at No. 6, with McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day rounding out the top 10.
Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race
A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.
Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.
Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.
Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Xander Schauffele
12. Matt Kuchar
13. Kevin Kisner
14. Tony Finau
15. Brian Harman
On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.
Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Francesco Molinari
2. Justin Rose
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Tommy Fleetwood
1. Jon Rahm
2. Alex Noren
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Paul Casey
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.