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Golf Australia Express : Issue 7
STANDING JUST 5’5” (165cm) Ayako Okamoto was a far less imposing figure than Jumbo. But don’t let her lack of height fool you— she is a genuine Japanese golf immortal. Gifted with one of the most rhythmical golf swings, Okamoto is loved like few other sportswomen in Japan. In a country where golf is king, Okamoto is a royal wonder. Her record is incredible and is made even more impressive by the fact she only took up golf at 22. The former softball pitcher gave up her first sport after becoming hooked on golf, and she turned pro three years later. Okamoto was outstanding throughout the 1980s. By the end of her career, she had notched 62 professional wins, including 44 in Japan, 17intheUSandonein Europe. Although she wasn’t able to win a US major—finishing runner- up six times—she did earn the LPGA Tour Player of the year award and topped the money list in 1987, the first non-American to do either. The now 60-year-old was acknowledged for her contribution to golf when inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005. ‘Empressive’ indeed. THE EMPRESS Ayako Okamoto (born 1951) LIST THE