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Hisako 'Chako' Higuchi

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Chako Higuchi

Chako Higuchi, the first international player to emerge from the Japan LPGA.

Photo courtesy of the World Golf Hall of Fame; used with permission Japanese golfer Chako Higuchi

Japanese golfer Chako Higuchi won 69 times on the Japan LPGA.

Photo courtesy of the World Golf Hall of Fame; used with permission

Date of birth: October 13, 1945
Place of birth: Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
Nickname: "Chako" is her nickname. Her given name is Hisako Higuchi. "Chako" is a common nickname in Japan for individuals named "Hisako" because of their similar pronunciation.

Tour Wins:

  • LPGA: 2
  • Japan LPGA: 69

Major Championships:

1
LPGA Championship: 1977

Awards and Honors:

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame

Quote, Unquote:

Carol Mann: "Off the course she was delightful, but on it she carried herself like an elite athlete - a fierce competitor who showed no emotion."

Judy Rankin: "She had beautiful tempo and great balance. You never thought of Chako hitting a wild shot."

Chako Higuchi Biography:

Before there was Ayako Okamoto, there was Hisako "Chako" Higuchi. Higuchi was the first star of women's golf in Japan, someone who helped launch the Japan LPGA Tour in the late 1960s, then in the 1990s served as its president.

Higuchi never had as much success on the American LPGA as Okamoto, but then, Higuchi didn't play the U.S. LPGA nearly as much. Chako does have one thing Okamoto wishes she had: a major championship.

Higuchi also had one of the oddest swings of any famous golfer. The World Golf Hall of Fame describes Higuchi swaying so much on her backswing that she would actually lose sight of the ball for a moment. "To make her swing work took a great athlete, which Chako was," Carol Mann is quoted as saying.

Higuchi dominated the JLPGA after its formation. From 1968-76, she led the tour in earnings every year. She won the JLPGA Championship nine times and the Japan Women's Open eight times, and totaled 69 wins on the JLPGA from 1968 to 1990.

She won the 1974 Women's Australian Open, and the 1976 Colgate European Women's Open, an LPGA event.

Unlike Okamoto, who played the U.S. LPGA full-time for much of the 1980s, Higuchi only played part-time in the U.S., and never more than 15 tournaments in a year. Despite that, Higuchi finished as high as 10th on the money list (1976).

And in 1977, Higuchi became the first Japanese golfer to win a major championship (in women's or men's golf) at the LPGA Championship. It was a victory that earned her a ticker-tape parade in Japan.

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