Chi-Chi Rodríguez

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Chi-Chi Rodríguez
— Golfer —
Juan Chi Chi.jpg
Personal information
Full name Juan Antonio Rodríguez
Nickname Chi-Chi
Born (1935-10-23) October 23, 1935 (age 86)
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Height 5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Weight 150 lb (68 kg; 11 st)
Nationality  Puerto Rico
 United States
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
Masters Tournament T10: 1970, 1973
U.S. Open T6: 1981
The 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.

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 $18 a week as a laborer and cattle handler. When Rodríguez was 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 United States 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."[2][3]

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." Even though he was a very small man, he had a special stance and swing with the driver that enabled him to hit the ball as far as the longest drivers on the tour. 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][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.[2][4]

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 official 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. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of victory Runner(s)-up
1 Sep 1, 1963 Denver Open Invitational −4 (68-74-65-69=276) 2 strokes United States Bill Eggers
2 Jan 27, 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 May 1, 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

PGA Tour playoff record (3–1)

No. Year Tournament Opponent Result
1 1964 Lucky International Open United States Don January Won 18-hole playoff (Rodríguez:70, January:71)
2 1966 Cajun Classic Open Invitational United States Jacky Cupit Lost to par on second extra hole
3 1968 Sahara Invitational United States Dale Douglass Won with par on first extra hole
4 1972 Byron Nelson Golf Classic United States Billy Casper Won with birdie on first extra hole

Other wins (4)

Senior PGA Tour wins (22)

No. Date Tournament Winning score Margin of
1 Jun 22, 1986 Senior Tournament Players Championship −10 (69-67-70=206) 2 strokes Australia Bruce Crampton
2 Aug 10, 1986 Digital Seniors Classic −13 (70-67-66=203) 1 stroke South Africa Gary Player
3 Sep 14, 1986 United Virginia Bank Seniors −14 (69-67-66=202) 3 strokes United States Don January
4 Feb 15, 1987 General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship −6 (70-69-76-67=282) 1 stroke United States Dale Douglass
5 May 10, 1987 Vantage at The Dominion −13 (67-67-69=203) 3 strokes United States Butch Baird
6 May 17, 1987 United Hospitals Senior Golf Championship −8 (70-69-63=202) 1 stroke United States Lee Elder
7 May 24, 1987 Silver Pages Classic −16 (66-65-69=200) 3 strokes Australia Bruce Crampton
8 Jun 7, 1987 Senior Players Reunion Pro-Am −15 (67-69-65=201) 1 stroke Australia Bruce Crampton
9 Aug 9, 1987 Digital Seniors Classic −18 (65-66-67=198) 8 strokes United States Orville Moody
10 Aug 23, 1987 GTE Northwest Classic −10 (70-68-68=206) 1 stroke United States Butch Baird
11 Apr 17, 1988 Doug Sanders Kingwood Celebrity Classic −8 (70-69-69=208) 2 strokes United States Miller Barber, United States John Brodie
12 Jul 31, 1988 Digital Seniors Classic −14 (68-65-69=202) 1 stroke New Zealand Bob Charles
13 Sep 17, 1989 Crestar Classic −13 (66-69-68=203) 1 stroke United States Jim Dent, United States Dick Rhyan
14 May 6, 1990 Las Vegas Senior Classic −12 (68-67-69=204) 1 stroke United States George Archer, United States Charles Coody
15 Jul 22, 1990 Ameritech Senior Open −13 (67-70-66=203) 7 strokes United States George Archer, United States Al Kelley
16 Aug 12, 1990 Sunwest Bank Charley Pride Senior Golf Classic −11 (66-71-68=205) 2 strokes United States Charles Coody, United States Jim Dent, United States Jim Ferree
17 Mar 3, 1991 GTE West Classic −8 (66-66=132) 1 stroke Australia Bruce Crampton, South Africa Gary Player
18 Mar 24, 1991 Vintage ARCO Invitational −10 (70-67-69=206) 1 stroke United States Mike Hill, United States Don January
19 May 5, 1991 Las Vegas Senior Classic −12 (70-68-66=204) 3 strokes United States Walt Zembriski
20 May 12, 1991 Murata Reunion Pro-Am −8 (71-70-67=208) Playoff United States Jim Colbert
21 Nov 8, 1992 Ko Olina Senior Invitational −10 (69-68-69=206) 6 strokes United States Charles Coody
22 Jun 20, 1993 Burnet Senior Classic −15 (69-67-65=201) 2 strokes United States Jim Colbert, United States Bob Murphy

Champions Tour playoff record (1–7)

No. Year Tournament Opponent(s) Result
1 1986 Greater Grand Rapids Open United States Jim Ferree, United States Gene Littler Ferree won with birdie on first extra hole
2 1989 Bell Atlantic/St. Christopher's Classic United States Dave Hill Lost to par on third extra hole
3 1989 General Tire Las Vegas Classic United States Charles Coody, New Zealand Bob Charles Coody won with birdie on second extra hole
4 1990 NYNEX Commemorative United States Mike Fetchick, United States Jimmy Powell,
United States Lee Trevino
Trevino won with birdie on fifth extra hole
Powell and Rodríguez eliminated with birdie on first hole
5 1991 Murata Reunion Pro-Am United States Jim Colbert Won with par on fourth extra hole
6 1991 U.S. Senior Open United States Jack Nicklaus Lost 18-hole playoff (Nicklaus:65, Rodríguez:69)
7 1991 Security Pacific Senior Classic United States George Archer, United States John Brodie Brodie won with birdie on second extra hole
8 1993 First of America Classic United States George Archer, United States Jim Colbert Archer won with par on third extra hole
Rodríguez eliminated with par on first hole

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
Masters Tournament CUT T33 CUT T21 CUT DNP T26 DNP DNP
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP T44 T71 DNP DNP DNP T15
Tournament 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
Masters Tournament T10 T30 CUT T10 T20 CUT DNP DNP DNP DNP
U.S. Open T27 T13 T9 T29 T26 DNP CUT 60 T46 T32
PGA Championship CUT T66 T24 T24 T39 T22 DNP CUT DNP T46
Tournament 1980 1981 1982
Masters Tournament 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
Yellow background for top-10


Tournament Wins 2nd 3rd Top-5 Top-10 Top-25 Events Cuts made
Masters Tournament 0 0 0 0 2 4 14 9
U.S. Open 0 0 0 0 2 3 16 12
The Open Championship 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
PGA Championship 0 0 0 0 0 4 12 9
Totals 0 0 0 0 4 11 43 31
  • Most consecutive cuts made – 9 (1972 U.S. Open – 1974 PGA)
  • Longest streak of top-10s – 1 (four times)

Champions Tour major championships

Wins (2)

Year Championship Winning score Margin Runner-up
1986 Senior Tournament Players Championship −10 (69-67-70=206) 2 strokes Australia Bruce Crampton
1987 General Foods PGA Seniors' Championship −6 (70-69-76-67=282) 1 stroke United States Dale Douglass

Team appearances

  • World Cup (representing Puerto Rico): 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1993
  • Ryder Cup (representing the United States): 1973 (winners)

Depictions in pop culture

File:Are We Not Men We Are Devo!.jpg
The cover art for Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

A morphed image of Rodriguez is featured on the new wave band Devo's debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and an unmodified image on their single "Be Stiff." According to band member Jerry Casale, they had found the image of Rodriguez on a golf strap and wanted to use it, but their bosses felt that the band was making fun of the golfer, so they morphed the image with that of several other people for their album.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Chi-Chi Rodriguez Academy". Retrieved 2012-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Made Up Media: R.Sellers, M.Walker, I.George, D.Crouch, G.Newsham. "Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2012-03-12.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations, ed. Jim Apfelbaum. 2007.
  4. "Chi Chi Rodriguez robbed at home in Puerto Rico". Retrieved 2012-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Fifth Annual Puerto Rico Open Tees Off at The Trump International: Golf Legend Chi Chi Rodríguez to Play His Final Official Round". 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2012-03-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links