LET Team Captain Trish Johnson was thrilled when Japanese Hall of Famer Hisako “Chako” Higuchi attended the players’ party ahead of The Queens presented by Kowa on Wednesday evening.
“I remember watching Chako win the 1976 Colgate European Women’s Open at Sunningdale when I was aged 11. She is one of the first golfers I remember along with Beth Daniel and Sally Little,” Trish said. “Chako was an absolute superstar and I’m amazed that she’s here. I think she’s 77 now and looks amazing.”
When Higuchi began to play golf in the early 1960s, there were few women golfers of any kind in Japan, and no professional tour for women. By the 1970s, Higuchi was such a hero in her home country that when she was seen on the streets of Tokyo, people would stop and clap and by the time she retired from competitive golf in the ’90s, Higuchi had won 69 times on the LPGA of Japan tour and recorded milestone victories on three other continents. Her achievements blazed a trail for the many Asian international players who have followed.
Higuchi dominated Japanese golf from 1968 to 1980, winning the JLPGA championship nine times and Japanese Women’s Open four times. But her most important victories were abroad. She won the Women’s Australian Open in 1974, the Colgate European Women’s Open in 1976 and, in her finest moment, the 1977 LPGA Championship, a victory which prompted a ticker-tape parade in Tokyo.