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Chi-Chi Rodríguez
Personal information
Full name Juan Antonio Rodríguez
Nickname Chi-Chi
Born October 23, 1935 (1935-10-23) (age 74)
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight 150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)
Nationality  Puerto Rico
Career
College None
Turned professional 1960
Current tour(s) Champions Tour
Former tour(s) PGA Tour
Professional wins 38
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 8
Champions Tour 22
Best results in Major Championships
The Masters T10: 1970, 1973
U.S. Open T6: 1981
Open Championship T28: 1973
PGA Championship T15: 1969
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame 1992 (member page)
Old Tom Morris Award 1989
Bob Jones Award 1989

Juan Antonio "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez (born October 23, 1935) is a Puerto Rican professional golfer. He was the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Contents

Early years

Rodríguez was born into a poor family in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He was one of six siblings. His father used to earn only $18 a week as a laborer and cattle handler. When Rodríguez was only seven years old, he helped the family by earning money as a water carrier on a sugar plantation. One day Juan wandered off into a golf course. When he saw that the caddies were earning more money than him, he decided to become a caddy himself.

Rodríguez would take a branch from a guava tree and turn it into a golf club. Using a metal can as a "golf ball", he would practice what he had seen the "real" golfers do, teaching himself how to play golf. By the time he was nine years old, he was proficient at golf and in 1947 at the age of 12, he scored a remarkable 67.

In 1954, when Rodríguez was 19, he joined the Army. During his breaks, he would visit whichever golf course was nearby, where he continued to perfect his game.

Rodríguez, with characteristic charisma, would often make jokes about his past hardships on the golf course, such as, "How long does John Daly drive a golf ball? When I was a kid, I didn't go that far on vacation." And, "Playing golf is not hot work. Cutting sugar cane for a dollar a day—that's hot work. Hotter than my first wrist watch." [1]

Rodríguez turns professional

Rodríguez turned professional in 1960. In 1963, at 28, Rodríguez won the Denver Open, which he considers as his favorite win. In total he won eight titles on the PGA Tour between 1963 and 1979.

At first, Rodríguez used to put his hat over the hole whenever he made a birdie or eagle. After he heard that other golfers were complaining about his little act, he decided to try something new. Juan developed his signature "toreador dance", where he would make believe that the ball was a "bull" and that his putter was a "sword" and he would terminate the "bull". Rodríguez represented Puerto Rico on 12 World Cup teams. In 1986, he won the Hispanic Recognition Award. In 1988, he was named Replica's Hispanic Man of the Year.

Senior PGA Tour

Rodríguez became eligible to play on the Senior PGA Tour (now known as the Champions Tour) in 1985 and did so for many years with great success, accumulating 22 tournament victories between 1986 and 1993. He was the first player on the Senior PGA Tour to win the same event in three consecutive years. He set a tour record with eight consecutive birdies en route to a win at the 1987 Silver Pages Classic.

In 1989, he was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Rodríguez received the 1989 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor. In 1991, he lost an 18-hole playoff to a legendary Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Senior Open. In 1992, Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the first Puerto Rican so honored.

Later years

On one occasion Rodríguez had a brief encounter with Mother Teresa. He considers that moment as the greatest moment in his life. This encounter inspired him to help others. Rodríguez, together with former pro golfer Bill Hayes and Bob Jones, established the "Chi-Chi Rodríguez Youth Foundation", an afterschool program at the Glen Oaks Golf Course in Clearwater, Florida. The principal idea behind the foundation is to instill self-esteem in young people who are victims of abuse, have experienced minor brushes with the law, or have suffered other hardships. Rodríguez also bought his mother a house and gave financial help to his brothers and sisters.

In October 1998, Rodríguez suffered a heart attack. He had an angioplasty to clear the blocked artery and made a recovery. He is married and has one daughter.

Professional wins (38)

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PGA Tour wins (8)

No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of Victory Runner(s)-up
1 Sep 1, 1963 Denver Open Invitational -11 (68-74-65-69=276) 2 strokes United States Bill Eggers
2 Jan 26, 1964 Lucky International Open -12 (72-69-65-66=272) Playoff United States Don January
3 Aug 9, 1964 Western Open -16 (64-69-68-67=268) 1 stroke United States Arnold Palmer
4 Apr 30, 1967 Texas Open Invitational -7 (68-73-70-66=277) 1 stroke New Zealand Bob Charles, United States Bob Goalby
5 Oct 20, 1968 Sahara Invitational -10 (70-71-69-64=274) Playoff United States Dale Douglass
6 Apr 30, 1972 Byron Nelson Golf Classic -7 (66-68-69-70=273) Playoff United States Billy Casper
7 Apr 2, 1973 Greater Greensboro Open -17 (68-66-67-66=267) 1 stroke United States Lou Graham, United States Ken Still
8 Apr 22, 1979 Tallahassee Open -19 (66-69-67-67=269) 3 strokes United States Lindy Miller

Other wins (4)

Senior PGA Tour wins (22)

Senior major championships are shown in bold.

Other senior wins (4)

Results in major championships

Tournament 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
The Masters CUT T33 CUT T21 CUT DNP T26 DNP DNP
U.S. Open DNP DNP DNP WD T40 T44 T42 DNP DNP
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP T44 T71 DNP DNP DNP T15
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
The Masters T10 T30 CUT T10 T20 CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open T27 T13 T9 T29 T26 DNP CUT 60 T46 T32
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP T28 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship CUT T66 T24 T24 T39 T22 DNP CUT DNP T46
Tournament 1980 1981 1982
The Masters T44 DNP T38
U.S. Open CUT T6 CUT
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship WD DNP DNP

DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
WD = Withdrew
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10

See also

References

  1. ^ The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations, ed. Jim Apfelbaum. 2007.

External links



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