LPGA legend Mickey Wright dead at 85

LPGA legend Mickey Wright dead at 85
Golf legend Mickey Wright, who won 82 LPGA events and 13 major championships, died Feb. 17. She was 85. (Associated Press/File)

Golfing legend Mickey Wright, a Hall of Famer who won 82 LPGA titles and 13 championships during her career, died Monday of a heart attack, her attorney said. She was 85.

Wright’s attorney, Sonia Pawluc, told The Associated Press that Wright had been hospitalized for the last few weeks after suffering injuries in a fall. The LPGA confirmed the news of Wright’s death.

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Born in San Diego, Mary Kathryn Wright maintained a private life after retiring from golf and moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 1974, where she spent the final years of her life, TCPalm reported.

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Mickey Wright,” LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement. “We lost a legend, but we may also have lost the best swing in golf history today. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Wright’s smooth golf swing was envied by golfers worldwide. She learned her swing when she was 15 from California golf instructor Harry Pressler, traveling 250 miles round trip every Saturday for two years, Golfweek reported.

“She had the finest golf swing I ever saw,” PGA legend Ben Hogan said.

Wright broke into the LPGA in 1955. According to her LPGA biography, Wright is the only player in LPGA history to hold all four major titles at the same time. She captured the U.S. Women’s Open -- an event she would win four times -- and the LPGA Championship in 1961 and completed the Grand Slam run by winning the first two majors of 1962, the Titleholders Championship and the Western Open.

Wright won 44 times in a four-year run (1961-64), according to the Golf Channel.

In 1963-64, Wright served as the LPGA’s president and was voted Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Women’s Golf in 1964, the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame when it was created in 1967 and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1976, according to the LPGA.

“At my best I would go into what I called a ‘fog.’ I never thought of it as the ‘zone’ you hear about today, though maybe it was something like that,” Wright told Golf Digest in a 2017 interview. “It was a mental state where I could concentrate really well and play with a greater confidence than usual. I had it when I shot 62 at Hunting Creek in Louisville in 1964. It was elusive, but that’s when I played my best.”

Wright retired as an active player in 1969, when she was 34. She won $368,770 during her career, according to the LPGA.

Wright was named Female Golfer of the Century by The Associated Press in 2000.

Kathy Whitworth, who holds the LPGA’s all-time record with 88 career wins, said Wright was the best player she’d ever seen, Golfweek reported.

“The PGA of America is deeply saddened by the passing of Mickey Wright, who will forever be one of the greatest to play our game. Her swing put the greats in awe & we are forever thankful for her efforts to advance women’s golf.” PGA President Suzy Whaley said in a statement.

“There’s got to be golf in heaven,” Wright told Golf Digest in 2017. “I hope I get there and that it’s just me and my 2-iron. Or maybe a couple of angels will be looking on. Everything will look like Sea Island Golf Club did in the old days, sedate and beautiful. I’ll be facing that shot to a well-trapped green again, trying to duplicate that shot from 1957. If it’s really heaven, I’ll pull it off.”