3 Hispanic-American Golfers That Make South American Shine| 11 December, 2018
Latin American golfers have made terrific strides in recent memory with several golfers winning major championships and earning Hall of Fame status. Legendary golfers such as Puerto Rico-native Chi Chi Rodriguez have added a much-needed flair of personality to go with their high performance on the links.
But there are three Latin American golfers who have transcended the game with their amazing abilities. Here are the stories of how six-time major winner Lee Trevino and four-time LPGA player of the year Lorena Ochoa, both from Mexico, and Masters and U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, the first Argentinian to win either tournament, became legends on the links.
One of the greatest golfers of all-time, regardless of heritage, is Lee Trevino. The “Merry-Mex,” as he was nicknamed, was raised in Dallas by his mother and grandfather after his biological father left the family soon after Lee was born. Trevino grew up next to the historic Dallas Athletic Club, where he discovered a love for golf while working there during the summers before he dropped out of school to focus on developing his golfing skill set.
Trevino won 29 PGA tournaments over his illustrious career, with many of those wins coming against the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. In the 1970s, Trevino was arguably one of the top three golfers of the decade with four major championships. In 1971, Trevino put together one of the greatest professional seasons in PGA history with six tournament wins and two majors. Sports Illustrated was so blown away by Trevino’s season that they gave him the prestigious title of Sportsman of the Year.
Trevino finished his career with six major titles, including an astounding win at the 1984 PGA Championship at the age of 44, some nine years after he almost lost his life after being struck by lightning on the golf course.
Photo by Roman Gomez
The most dominant female Latin American golfer ever is Lorena Ochoa. From the 2006 through 2009 seasons, Ochoa won two major championships, four LPGA Player of the Year awards as well as the 2006 AP Female Athlete of the Year trophy. Ochoa took over the number one ranking from legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam in early 2007 and didn’t relinquish the crown until her retirement from the game in April of 2010.
Ochoa grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico where she blew away the local competition with 22 state tournament wins and a whopping 44 national victories. After winning five straight championships at the Junior World Golf Championship, Ochoa headed to the University of Arizona where she earned NCAA Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002.
Ochoa left school and started her professional career in 2002 and amassed 30 professional victories, qualifying her for the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017. Her most notable championships were the major wins at St. Andrews at the 2007 Women’s British Open and the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2008. In 2007, Ochoa set a new LPGA record with over yearly earnings of $4 million which bested Sorenstam’s previous record of earnings in a season by a staggering $1.2 million.
Photo by Kwee Song Lim
Over the past 15 years, the most prolific Latin American golfer on the PGA Tour is Angel Cabrera. Raised in Cordoba, Argentina, Cabrera had a similar path to golf like Lee Trevino. Cabrera fell in love with the game while caddying at the local golf club. Even though Cabrera started working and playing at the Cordoba Country Club at the age of ten, he didn’t get his first set of clubs until he turned 16 years old.
Known for his distance off the tee (maybe the right golf shoes would have helped), Cabrera struggled to get his professional career off the ground, failing to qualify for the European Tour three consecutive times before making the tour in 1995. Cabrera became a mainstay on the European circuit, routinely posting top-ten finishes in yearly earnings. Cabrera would go on to win 52 professional tournaments during his career.
After becoming a top-ten player in the world, Cabrera made his mark in America with a stunning win at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. In what was a brutally tough tournament, Cabrera held off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk by one stroke, finishing the major at 5-over. Cabrera added another major at the 2009 Masters giving the Argentinian two major titles over three years.
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