LPGA founder Marilynn Smith dies aged 89

A statement from the LPGA said Marilynn Smith had passed away early Tuesday surrounded by family and friends, just days away from her 90th birthday.

A file photo of LPGA founder Marilynn Smith. She passed away on Tuesday at the age of 89.   -  AFP

Marilynn Smith, the women's golf pioneer who was one of the founding members of the LPGA, died Tuesday. She was 89.

A statement from the LPGA said Smith had passed away early Tuesday surrounded by family and friends, just days away from her 90th birthday.

Smith was one of the first waves of women professionals which emerged after World War Two, turning pro in 1949 and helping launch the LPGA with 12 other women.

She would go on to win 21 LPGA tournaments between 1954 and 1972, and would claim two major championships, the 1963 and 1964 Titleholders.

“For the LPGA family, Marilynn was special in every way,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “She was our founder, our north star and most importantly, our friend. In her life, she broke barriers, shattered stereotypes and made others believe.”

Smith was one of the tour's most prominent spokeswomen and served as president between 1958 and 1973.

She would also go on to forge a successful career in broadcasting, becoming the first woman to work a men's event in 1973.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.