AUTHOR

OBGOLF

09 April 2020

MICKEY WRIGHT OBITUARY

The golf world is mourning the loss of one of the greatest female golfers of all time, Mary Kathryn Wright, better known as Mickey Wright. Wright passed away from a heart attack after spending time in hospital for an injury she sustained when she fell.

Known as a long hitter with a compact and fluid swing, Wright dominated the LPGA Tour in the late 1950s and 1960s. She first joined the LPGA in 1955 and collected a total of 82 LPGA titles, 13 of them majors, over her years on the tour. Wright held the record for the most titles before Kathy Whitworth surpassed her with 88 LPGA wins and Patty Berg secured 15 major titles. 

To this day, Wright remainsthe only LPGA player to be the champion of all four majors at the same time having secured an astounding 44 victories in a four-year stretch. In 1963 alone, she won 13 LPGA tournaments, still a record for a single season, closely followed by her 1964 effort when she won 11 times. Her success saw her named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year twice, in 1963 and 1964. Along with Bobby Jones in 1930 and Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2001, Wright is the only golfer to have captured four consecutive majors. 

"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 said, as quoted by Golf Digest in 2017. "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."

In addition to her winning performances, Wright was known for her mechanically sound and pure swing. Ben Hogan, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, praised it as the finest swing in the game, remarking: Wright had the finest golf swing I ever saw.”

Wright began developing her famed swing at just 14 years old. She kept her wrist cocked as long as possible as she addressed the ball and stayed away from the emphasis on arm motion,something that most women of the era used, which resulted in relatively short drives and iron play.

“I swung the club,” Wright explained in her 1962 instructional Play Golf the Wright Way that has subsequently been reprinted. “That’s it. The keyword is swing, not turn. Not ground your feet like they were in cement so your body doesn’t move. That’s not a swing to me.”

Her last victory was Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner's Circle (now the ANA Inspiration) in 1973 but she withdrew from the LPGA Tour later that year. Since 1969 she had been playing less regularly in tour events due to foot injuries.

Of course, Wright didn’t quit golf altogether; she continued playing recreationally and made some appearances on the senior circuit. "I still love swinging a golf club more than just about anything," Wright said. "For years after my last competitive appearance in 1995, I'd hit balls from my porch.”

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