Mickey Wright, 71, has surgery for breast cancer

Updated: October 27, 2006, 4:44 PM ET
Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Mickey Wright, whom many consider to be the greatest female golfer in history, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and was having surgery Friday, The Palm Beach Post reported on its Web site.

Mickey Wright
AP PhotoWright won 82 times on the LPGA Tour, despite retiring from full-time golf at 34.

Longtime manager Peggy Wilson said the 71-year-old Wright had a mammogram on Oct. 10 that revealed a cloudy spot on her right breast. More tests showed that it was cancer.

"They got her in surgery as quick as they could," Wilson told the newspaper. "They're going to do a lumpectomy. The big question is whether it got into her lymph nodes."

Wright's swing was so pure that Ben Hogan said it was the finest he ever saw. She won 82 times on the LPGA Tour, despite retiring from full-time golf at age 34 in 1969. Wright won 12 majors between 1958 and 1966, and she is the only player in LPGA Tour history to hold all four major titles at the same time.

Wright's dominance led her to an early retirement because she was expected to play every week to carry interest in the LPGA Tour. Not only did she play, she often won. Wright, who grew up in San Diego, had already won 50 tournaments when she was 28.

"I always say Mickey was the best golfer the LPGA ever had," Betsy Rawls said. "I think most of the people who ever saw her play still think that. She sort of revolutionized golf for us because she was so good and her swing was so perfect. Even though we were competitors, she was a joy to watch."

News about Wright came at a tough time for LPGA Hall of Famers. Judy Rankin is recovering from breast cancer, and Patty Berg died two months ago of Alzheimer's disease.

Wright now lives in Port St. Lucie, although she mostly keeps to herself. She last appeared at the Titleholders in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the late 1990s, and nearly every player walking by the practice range stopped to watch her swing.

The surgery was being performed by Dr. James Vopal, who specializes in breast cancer.

"Mickey has been unbelievable about this," Wilson said. "It's like she's winning another U.S. Open, she's handling it so well."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press