The Smiling Star is born
2019 AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf and Country Club, England concluded with a blast at the 72th hole when a Japanese rising star Hinako SHIBUNO, famously dubbed ‘The Smiling Cinderella’, confidently drained a birdie putt to win her first major, first victory outside motherland and first major championship trophy for Japan in 42 years. This Cinderella story captured hearts of golf fans around the globe, who is Hinako SHIBUNO, where is she come from, what’s hidden behind that charming smile, Golfistathai.com bring a short detail of her in 10 Things you’ll love to know about Hinako SHIBUNO.
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1.Hinako SHIBUNO born and grew up in Okayama, Japan
She born into a sportsman family. Hinako’s father was a discus thrower while her mother was a javelin thrower. She hasn’t started playing golf until grade 2 and since then she continued to expose talent and passion in golf. In 2014, Hinako won the Chugoku Region Women’s Amateur Championship and helped her high school golf teammate won the National High School Golf Championship in 2015.
2.Hinako SHIBUNO started her successful career with failure
In 2017, Hinako failed to qualify for JLPGA and had to play in the step-up tour circuit for one year. Her first JLPGA appearance was the Earth Mondahmin Cup in June 2018 where she happened to holed out the 9th hole Par 3 which earned her 6 million yen despite missing the cut. Hinako successfully qualified for JLPGA in 2019 and to many surprises, she came out of no where and won the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup which regard as one of the four JLPGA Major championships in May and the Shiseido Anessa Ladies Open in July. The wins bought her a ticket to compete in AIG Women’s British Open, her fist tournament outside Japan, and like you know, the rest is history.
3.Hinako SHIBUNO is a second Japanese, men or women, to win a major championship
The last Japanese to win a major championship dated back to 1977 when a legendary Hisako “Chako” Higuchi won LPGA Championship. Almost 42 years later, a girl from no where, Hinako SHIBUNO who played golf with smile on her face won the 2nd major championship for Japan. If this is not called a Cinderella story of a rising heroine, I have no other way to call it.
4.Hinako SHIBUNO’s interpreter during AIG WBO is Japanese golf idol Ai Miyazato’s husband
Hinako’s first tournament outside Japan is much smoother with kind assistance from Takumi Zaoya, a golf agent and her temporal interpreter that happened to be Ai Miyazato’s husband. After victory, Zaoya said that Ai sent Hinako a congratulation text, a torch passing from Japanese legend to rising star.
5.Hinako SHIBUNO’s nickname ‘Smiling Cinderella’ really fits her character
Hinako said in press conference that she looked at herself not only a golfer, but an entertainer as well. This make her smile and greet with fans during rounds of golf an essential part of her game to make audiences happy. Randel Mell of Golf channel called her ‘10,000 watts’ smile a significant character that captured on-course spectators and people around the globe. Hinako came to Woburn Golf club with intention to make the cut but her already surpass that expectation since the first round. Hinako’s pressure-free mentality makes her a strong competitor on Sunday and when she drained the putt on 72th green, we see fans cheering for her, shouting her name, even her playing partner put her hands in the sky celebrating for her. There is something that make golf entertain we lost in the years, but it has comeback and we see it when looking at Hinako’s smiling face.
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6.Hinako SHIBUNO’s manager dress himself as a Samurai and Clown
As part of the plan to make his player happy, Hiroshi Shigematsu, Shibuno’s manager dress up in black kimono, blue wig and toy sword on Saturday and a clown on Sunday just to make her laugh and relax. Her thought on this? Hinako has no comment and try not to laugh at her own manager.
7.Hinako SHIBUNO has a big preparation for her Sunday Final Pairing
When asked about her preparation for her final round while leading in her first ever major championship, Hinako smiled and answered that she plans to eat, take a bath, eat some candies, watch YouTube and go to sleep.
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8.Hinako SHIBUNO’s Instagram is IG: Pinacoooon, and her followers has increased like 100x times since her Women’s British Open victory!
9.Hinako SHIBUNO now has her Wikipedia page and a snack her eat on course has become popular among twitters. This indicates her popularity is skyrocketing and she will surely become an inspiration for new generations or so-called new wave of Japanese young golfers at home.
10.Hinako Shibuno’s quote after victory reflexed her humility and character very well
“I do feel that I have accomplished something great,” she said. “But I really don’t know the reason why I was able to accomplish it.”
Way to go! Hinako!
Watch Hinako Shibuno’s AIG Women’s British Open Final round Highlight below
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