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[TIMELINE] Hisaki "Chako" Higuchi - 1st Asian Woman to Win on LPGA Tour (1977)

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  • madchinaman
    World Golf Hall of Famer Profile: Hisako Chako Higuchi by Adam Schupak http://www.wgv.com/hof/higuchi.html - Hisako Chako Higuchi was the first Asian woman
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 21, 2005
      World Golf Hall of Famer Profile: Hisako "Chako" Higuchi
      by Adam Schupak
      http://www.wgv.com/hof/higuchi.html


      -

      Hisako "Chako" Higuchi was the first Asian woman to win on the tour
      when she took the 1977 LPGA Championship. Ayako Okamoto won 17 times
      on the tour.

      -


      During her playing days, Japan's Hisako "Chako" Higuchi was as
      beloved as Arnold Palmer or Nancy Lopez in her homeland. Now she
      will be enshrined with them, too.

      Higuchi, a charter member and former star player on the Japan Ladies
      Professional Golf Association (JLPGA), dominated the circuit during
      the 1960s and 70s, ending her career with 72 victories worldwide.
      She topped the money list in Japan from 1968 to 1976.

      Higuchi was a pioneer on the LPGA Tour. In 1977, she became the
      first and only Japanese player to win a major championship on either
      the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour when she captured the LPGA Championship.

      Higuchi made her mark in golf with more than just her golf clubs.
      She was selected for the Lifetime Achievement category for
      championing the cause of Japanese golf, and continues to do so in
      unparalleled acts of dedication and service to her fellow
      professionals. As a competitor, she used her celebrity to advance
      the cause of participation in Japan. In her current role as chairman
      of the JLPGA, she brought back her experiences from the LPGA Tour,
      implementing changes to the JLPGA and spearheading the creation of
      many new programs.

      "Chako's success here in the United States in winning the 1977 LPGA
      Championship opened the door to the world and inspired her fellow
      countrymen, both men and women, to follow in her footsteps," said
      LPGA Commissioner, Ty Votaw. "Her election is not only in
      recognition of her outstanding professional career, but also her
      commitment and dedication to the growth of the game of golf in
      Japan."

      =====================


      2004 Induction Ceremony
      http://www.wgv.com/hof/ind_ceremony.html


      The 2004 Induction Ceremony will be held November 15 at World Golf
      Village. The Class of 2004 consists of Isao Aoki, Tom Kite, Charlie
      Sifford, and Marlene Stewart Streit.

      The World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will once again be
      televised on The Golf Channel. The World Golf Hall of Fame Induction
      Ceremony will be open to the public. Lawn chairs and blankets are
      suggested for comfortable seating. More information will be made
      available as the Ceremony nears.

      This year's Inductees were Leo Diegel, Hisako "Chako" Higuchi, Nick
      Price, and Annika Sorenstam. The World Golf Hall of Fame now boasts
      100 members!

      Nick Price was speaking for himself. But those words, which came
      directly from that big heart of his, also seemed to sum up precisely
      what Monday's World Golf Hall of Fame inductions meant to them all.

      Four people -- Price, Annika Sörenstam, Chako Higuchi and Leo
      Diegel -- were united on this cool autumn evening by their
      considerable talent and abundant joy in a game each played so well.

      They came from different generations and diverse parts of the world.
      But the four newest members of the Hall of Fame all shared the drive
      and determination that enabled them to complete what Sörenstam
      called a "journey" that has led them the biggest honor of their
      careers.

      "I am indeed very, very fortunate," Price said. "I was blessed with
      the talent to do something that I love and enjoy and also make it my
      profession. However, as we all know, playing golf well is just the
      tip of the iceberg. There are so many other facets that one has to
      learn and enjoy along the way.

      "From the very first day I picked up a club while caddying for my
      brother, Tim, I have been in awe of this game. I am still spellbound
      by the way it continues to tease and to entice me back, again and
      again, trying to perfect the imperfectable.

      "A new swing thought here. A change of grip there. A different ball
      position. A new putter to try. And if you love the game as much as I
      do, it's amazing how it finds a way to call you back the very next
      day."

      The game called Price back when he was 11 years old and locked
      himself in the men's bathroom at his local country club because "I
      was too scared to go out and play with three boys I'd never met." As
      he got older, he became a fierce competitor and one of the game's
      well-loved players.

      The game called out to Sörenstam, too, when she was a little girl so
      shy she'd intentionally three-putt so she wouldn't have to hoist the
      trophy and make a speech. Once she finally learned to how addicting
      it was to win, she hasn't let up since.

      The game reached out to Higuchi and called her back to her native
      Japan to grow the game and provide playing opportunities for other
      women like herself. The game spoke to Diegel, back in his heyday in
      the 1920s, and told him to be bold and try to make a living at the
      game when no one else had ever done so.

      A military flyover by the Raging Bulls opened the ceremonies Monday
      night at the World Golf Village and a display of brilliant fireworks
      put an end to the proceedings. But the focus was clearly on the four
      inductees and the impact they've had on their sport.

      "Although they came from worlds apart, they have brought us all
      closer together, and we are all the better for it," LPGA
      Commissioner Ty Votaw said.

      Price has won 41 times worldwide, including three major
      championships. He was nearly without peer in the early 1990s,
      particularly during the 1994 season when he won six times, including
      the British Open and his second PGA Championship.

      A two-time PGA TOUR Player of the Year, Price is as well-liked off
      the golf course as he is accomplished on it. He has been honored by
      his peers for upholding the traditions of the game and by the media
      for his accommodating nature.

      Price, who was inducted by his long-time teacher, David Leadbetter,
      remains competitive at the age of 46. He's got two runner-up
      finishes on the PGA TOUR this year, ranks 17th on the money list and
      will return to his native Southern Africa next month to play in his
      fifth Presidents Cup.

      Price singled out his mother, Wendy, for teaching him about
      sportsmanship and fair play, and spoke of the enduring support
      provided by his two brothers, his wife and three children. He talked
      about his long-time friendship -- both professional and personal --
      with Leadbetter and his beloved caddy, Jeff "Squeeky" Medlin, who
      died of leukemia in 1997.

      "Without his presence in my life, I doubt very much I would be
      standing here right now," Price said.

      Like Price, Sörenstam certainly isn't done yet. In fact, she is
      coming off the two best seasons of her life, and at the age of 33 is
      still in her prime.

      Sörenstam won 11 times last year, and while her victory total in
      2003 hasn't approached that phenomenal, record-tying total, the
      unassuming Swede has managed to make news in several other ways.

      For one thing, Sörenstam completed the career Grand Slam when she
      won the McDonald's LPGA Championship and Weetabix Women's British
      Open. She also sparked the Europeans to victory in the Solheim Cup.

      But it was her appearance in the Bank of America Colonial -- where
      she became the first woman in 58 years to play in a PGA TOUR event --
      that enabled Sörenstam to capture the hearts of golf fans around
      the world. She challenged herself and learned from the experience,
      handling the entire week with tremendous poise.

      Sörenstam, who was inducted by former LPGA Tour Commissioner Charlie
      Mechem, has come a long way from that youngster who shied away from
      the spotlight. So on Monday night, some 47 wins and 10 years after
      she joined the LPGA Tour, Sörenstam took her place with the game's
      elite.

      Mechem opened his remarks by quoting his successor. "Annika has
      taught us all the lesson that it is not good enough to be as good as
      we once were," he said, "but to always strive to be better than we
      ever thought we could be."

      Sörenstam said that her induction into the Hall of Fame meant that
      she had "achieved approval from those I respect." Her journey has
      been one of affirmation and love for what she does.

      Higuchi is the only player from Japan -- male or female -- to ever
      have won a major on the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour. Her victory at the
      1977 LPGA Championship was one of 72 worldwide.

      Higuchi was a charter member of the LPGA of Japan, which at the time
      had just three tournaments a year. She dominated play in the 1960s
      and '70s, leading the money list for nine straight years. Now there
      are 30 players on the LPGA Tour from five different Asian countries.

      But Higuchi, who opened her speech Monday night in English, wanted
      more of a challenge. So for a decade, Higuchi came to the United
      States and played several months a year. Meanwhile, the LPGA of
      Japan was essentially stagnant.

      "Someone called me and said, 'That's why we can't get more
      tournaments -- because you're not playing here,'" Higuchi said. "So
      I had to go back home and contribute."

      Higuchi, who was enshrined by Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth, is now
      chairman of the LPGA of Japan. And true to her word, the circuit now
      has more than 30 tournaments. She called the induction "her greatest
      honor."

      Diegel was one of the first Americans to make his living as a
      player. The Detroit native won 30 times, including consecutive PGA
      Championships in 1928 and '29, before retiring to teach others the
      game he loved.

      Diegel, who was inducted by PGA of America President M.G. Orender,
      played on four Ryder Cup teams. His instructional book, The Nine Bad
      Shots of Golf, was dedicated to "the vast army of struggling golfers
      whose swings need help."

      Diegel, who had an unorthodox, elbows-out putting style people
      called "Diegeling," was instrumental in the development of the
      Tucson Open
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