Golf pioneer Ok-Hee Ku, who 25 years ago became the first Korean player to win on the LPGA Tour, died Wednesday in her home in Japan at the age of 56. According to multiple published reports, the cause of death was a heart attack.
Ku won 23 times on the LPGA of Japan Tour during a career that spanned more than a quarter century, adding an additional 20 victories on the Korean LPGA Tour. She was the first player ever inducted into the KLPGA Hall of Fame and served as KLPGA president in 2011-2012.
Her lone LPGA victory was a noteworthy one, as in 1988 she captured the Standard Register Turquoise Classic to become the first Korean to ever triumph on the LPGA. The win helped pave the way for Korean-born players like Se Ri Pak and Jiyai Shin, while her triumph came less than four months before the birth of Inbee Park in Seoul, South Korea.
'Ok-Hee Ku was a pioneer for women's golf and a role model to players across many countries,' said LPGA commissioner Michael Whan in a statement. 'We are deeply saddened to learn of her death and offer our sincerest condolences to her family and friends. She made the world of women's golf a better place.'