Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez

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Chi-Chi Rodríguez
Personal information
Full nameJuan Antonio Rodríguez
NicknameChi-Chi
Born(1935-10-23) October 23, 1935 (age 76)
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)
Nationality Puerto Rico
 United States
Career
CollegeNone
Turned professional1960
Current tour(s)Champions Tour
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins38
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour8
Champions Tour22
Best results in Major Championships
Masters TournamentT10: 1970, 1973
U.S. OpenT6: 1981
The Open ChampionshipT28: 1973
PGA ChampionshipT15: 1969
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1992 (member page)
Old Tom Morris Award1989
Bob Jones Award1989
 
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Chi-Chi Rodríguez
Personal information
Full nameJuan Antonio Rodríguez
NicknameChi-Chi
Born(1935-10-23) October 23, 1935 (age 76)
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Weight150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)
Nationality Puerto Rico
 United States
Career
CollegeNone
Turned professional1960
Current tour(s)Champions Tour
Former tour(s)PGA Tour
Professional wins38
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour8
Champions Tour22
Best results in Major Championships
Masters TournamentT10: 1970, 1973
U.S. OpenT6: 1981
The Open ChampionshipT28: 1973
PGA ChampionshipT15: 1969
Achievements and awards
World Golf Hall of Fame1992 (member page)
Old Tom Morris Award1989
Bob Jones Award1989

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 he was he decided to become a caddy himself.[1][2]

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 67.[1][2]

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.[2]

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." [3][2]

PGA Tour

Rodríguez turned professional in 1960. In 1963 at age 28 Rodríguez won the Denver Open, which he considers his favorite win. He won eight titles on the PGA Tour between 1963 and 1979.[1]

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.[1]

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, earning 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 1991, he lost an 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus in the U.S. Senior Open.[1][2]

Awards and honors

In 1986, Rodríguez won the Hispanic Recognition Award. In 1988, he was named Replica's Hispanic Man of the Year. In 1989, Rodríguez was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. He received the 1989 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor. In 1992, Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the first Puerto Rican so honored.[1]</ref>[2]

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 James, established the "Chi-Chi Rodríguez Youth Foundation", an afterschool program at the Glen Oaks Golf Course in Clearwater, Florida.[1] 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.[1]

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.[2]

In 2004 Rodriguez made a cameo in the movie Welcome to Mooseport, shown golfing with the "President" portrayed by Gene Hackman.[2]

In May 2010, Rodríguez was robbed at his house in Guayama, Puerto Rico by three people who stole $500,000 in cash and jewelry. Rodríguez and his wife were awakened at 1:45 in the morning by masked men who then tied them up and robbed them.[4][2]

On March 11, 2012, at the age of 76, Rodríguez participated as an honorary player in the Puerto Rico Open. He played 18 holes as his final officlal round as a professional in the PGA. There were several events honoring Rodríguez associated with the Tournament, and the tribute received extensive media coverage.[5]

Professional wins (38)

PGA Tour wins (8)

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

Tournament196119621963196419651966196719681969
The MastersCUTT33CUTT21CUTDNPT26DNPDNP
U.S. OpenDNPDNPDNPWDT40T44T42DNPDNP
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPT44T71DNPDNPDNPT15
Tournament1970197119721973197419751976197719781979
The MastersT10T30CUTT10T20CUTDNPDNPDNPDNP
U.S. OpenT27T13T9T29T26DNPCUT60T46T32
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNPT28DNPDNPDNPDNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipCUTT66T24T24T39T22DNPCUTDNPT46
Tournament198019811982
The MastersT44DNPT38
U.S. OpenCUTT6CUT
The Open ChampionshipDNPDNPDNP
PGA ChampionshipWDDNPDNP

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

Champions Tour major championships

Wins (2)

YearChampionshipWinning scoreMarginRunner-up
1986Senior Tournament Players Championship−10 (69-67-70=206)2 strokesAustralia Bruce Crampton
1987General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship−6 (70-69-76-67=282)1 strokeUnited States Dale Douglass

See also

References

External links