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LPGA Tour founder Danoff dies at 88

Bettye Danoff, who was one of the 13 founding members of the LPGA Tour in 1950, has died. She was 88.

Known by fellow playing pros as "Mighty Mite" for her diminutive stature, Danoff died Thursday in Texas, the LPGA Tour said.

In a statement, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said the tour was living proof that Danoff made a difference in the world of golf.

"Because of her courage, and the vision/belief of many others that followed our founders, we all get to participate in a fantastic business and game," said Whan.

Danoff began playing golf at the age of six when her parents opened a driving range and a nine-hole golf course. Among her career achievements was beating Babe Zaharias 1-up in the Texas Women's Open, ending Zaharias' 17-tournament winning streak.

Before turning professional in 1949, Danoff played exhibitions as an amateur with rising PGA Tour star Byron Nelson and was the medalist at the 1948 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.

She traveled with her three daughters while competing on the LPGA Tour in the days before tour childcare.

"I remember traveling for five consecutive tournaments with her while she played," said Debbie Bell, her youngest daughter. "She was often frustrated because she had to find friends and people to help watch us while she competed."

After her husband died suddenly in 1961, Danoff was limited to playing tournaments in Texas and Oklahoma while she raised her family. Later, she was the first grandmother on the LPGA Tour.

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