The statement read, "Her 88 LPGA victories are the most ever on a professional tour."

Without elaborating, Bettye Odle merely added, "Kathy left this world the way she lived it, loving, laughing, and making memories."

She was the first woman to make $1 million (£829,000) on the LPGA circuit in 1981.

She remarked at the time, "I would have traded being the first to make a million for winning the Open, but it was a consolation which took some of the pain off of not winning.

She won her last professional championship in 1985, 23 years after her initial victory.

Whitworth was "one of the most remarkable women," LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in a tribute.

In a statement, she added, "Kathy was a champion in the purest sense of the term, both on the golf course and off.

Sam Snead and Tiger Woods, who hold the joint records for the men's game, as well as the Texan's competitor Mary Kathryn "Mickey" Wright, were all outdone by her by six trophies.

While spending Christmas Eve with family and friends on Saturday night, she passed away unexpectedly, according to her partner.