Finally, a Little Info on Shibuno

Unusual to Know So Little About a Major Winner like Hinako Shibuno

A tip of the hat and a note of thanks to Bill Speros of Golfweek for finally getting us some information on British Open Winner Hinako Shibuno. After reading his article, written in the “10 things you didn’t know about…” format, I added it all up. I didn’t know about nine of them. However, I did get a bonus for learning how to spell the new champion’s first name. I thought it was with an “m” but it’s an “n.”

I knew that Shibuno had won twice in Japan, and that she had never played outside the country. I suspect that now, she can play wherever she wants, in whatever tournament she wants. Apparently, the win at Woburn almost doubled her career earning in one fell swoop. That’s definitely a life-changer. Other interesting facts remind us that Shibuno ended a 42-year dry spell for Japanese golfers in worldwide majors.. It is also interesting that she joins Hyo Koo Kim as a debut major winner. Kim won the Evian in 2014.

What interested me were some of the later facts, for example, the rate of speed at which she plays. I have seen variations of this since I was a kid. For some people, it seems to work, and for others, maybe not so well. In the old days Julius Boros declined to take a practice swing. That might be the one that makes the day. He wasn’t going to waste it on grass with no ball there. I’ve known a few people that thrive on the play fast principle. I can also remember hovering over each shot, grimacing seriously in hopes that I would somehow be rewarded with a better result. Once in a while, I felt as though I was ossifying by stopping the momentum and doing too much of  that. I should have just pulled the club. walked over and hit the thing. Oh well, we’ll never know.
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The world seems to agree that Shibuno is adorable. Speros tells us that her childhood fascination was Ariel of The Little Mermaid. That’s ok, we all did that, and it was one of the best things about childhood.  Mind you, it doesn’t usually work out. My guy was Zorro, but when I left childhood – well, enough said. Perhaps it is in part that sense of imaginative joy that gives Shibuno her ability to tap her skills without agonizing over them.  Cracking jokes with one’s caddie as the two or three most important shots in your career come up is almost irreverent to some, but Shibuno remained free, loose, and in perspective all the way up 18 after a few “Did you hear the one about…?” She was neither distracted nor flip, just in her right place.

As in the case with many fine players, Shibuno comes from an athletic family. Her parents are discus and javelin throwers. Of course, she is coordinated, and having it in the family genes doesn’t hurt at all. According to Speros, she loves playing softball as much as golf. It’s still a ball with a stick, and both sports have a sweet spot like few others in life. A well hit ball with a bat makes a wonderful sound, and the shiver that runs up the arms tells you that you’ve just hit it square. The same thing happens on the golf course. the only thing is that you don’t drop the club and run around in a square.

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So, what will our new British Open champion do now.?take the LPGA card right away and call 2019 her rookie season, or wait until next year? I can’t see a problem either way. I just want to see Shibuno stay new. All that light she threw off heading down the fairway is good for people of every age. She should be a great addition to a great tour.


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