Some things annoy me – like people who jump queues; like “space invaders” on the roads who squeeze themselves into the safe gap you’ve left between you and the car in front; like duffing a chip. And then there are some things that REALLY annoy me – like golf scribes and commentators lauding Tiger’s achievement of equalling Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Tour victories and proclaiming that he is now entering unchartered territory in golf in terms of victories.
Excuse me one darn second. What about Kathy Whitworth? Now 80 years old, Whitworth won 88 times on the LPGA circuit between 1962 and 1985. And before you ask, her competition was certainly no push over. She tussled with many legends of the game – Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls, Louise Suggs, JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, Betsy King and Beth Daniel – every single one of them elected to membership of the LPGA Hall of Fame, arguably the toughest sporting club in the world to join.Whitworth won only six majors but played in an era where for many years there were only two a year – now there are five – and so she had limited opportunity to have a tilt at the “big ones”. She did, however, amass eight money titles, seven scoring titles and was named LPGA Player of the Year seven times.
I could go on and on about her achievements and regret that I never did meet her, a true legend of the game but Patricia did meet and talk with her on several occasions. Patricia describes her as “humble” and “helpful” and said that “she waxed lyrical about Mickey Wright, who was just better than anyone else”.
Don’t get me wrong, Tiger’s victory last Sunday in Japan to reach the magic number of 82 PGA Tour wins is extraordinary. But let’s ditch the tunnel vision and recognise that sometimes golf records and extraordinary feats are not found solely in men’s golf. Let’s celebrate women’s achievements too.The start of this week found me over at Patricia’s helping with her ongoing and seemingly endless clearing and decluttering. A lifelong journalist with a strong inability to throw out anything at all presents a bit of a tidying challenge but we cracked on with a fair degree of success. One of the things that amazed even me was the carefully preserved correspondence she turned up with some of the great movers and shakers in the game, particularly the women’s game.
There are letters from the great Joyce Wethered, once described by Bobby Jones as “the greatest player, man or woman, I have ever see”. They are now nestling alongside notes from Louise Solheim, wife of Karsten the founder of Ping; Barbara Nicklaus, wife of, and power behind, the one-and-only Jack; Jessie Valentine, the pride of Scottish golf; and Enid Wilson who became the women’s golf correspondent of The Daily Telegraph after a playing career that saw her win three consecutive Women’s British Amateur titles in the 1930s. That’s quite a treasure trove that, hopefully, she may share a little of with you in future blogs.
Finally, young Irish golfers are flying high in American collegiate golf this week with Lauren Walsh and Julie McCarthy making headlines but one particular piece of golfing news this week brought me great joy. Mark Power, a young Irish player who is in his first semester at Wake Forest University, won the prestigious East Lake Cup, a stupendous achievement for a freshman in collegiate golf.
He has form, though, – a strong amateur record in Ireland which includes consecutive Irish Boys’ titles. His Mum and Dad are no slouches either – each has won three Irish titles with Mum, Eileen Rose (always known to us simply as ER), also playing Curtis Cup. The pedigree extends further back, too, to previous generations, so there’s an abundance of stellar golfing genes.I just wonder who wins the money on the family golf outings?