Chi Chi Rodriquez


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Sports/Athletics


Full Bio


Juan Chi-Chi Rodriguez is one of the great showmen in sports history. In a career which spans four decades, Chi-Chi won 22 Senior PGA Tour victories, 8 regular PGA Tours and has career earnings of over $7 million dollars.

Chi-Chi Rodriguez was born in Rio Piedras in 1935 and as a young boy helped his father work the hot, dusty sugar cane fields. He began caddying at the age of six and actually learned how to play golf with clubs fashioned out of guava tree limbs and tin cans hammered into balls. From the start he has become one of the most successful and widely recognized names in the game of golf.

Chi-Chi's golf expertise began at the age of 12, when he shot a 67. Chi-Chi became known for his eye-hand coordination and imagination skills that more than 40 years have help him overcome all kinds of obstacles.

It has been said that pound for pound Chi-Chi is the longest hitter in the history of golf. At 5-7 and weight ranging from 112-130 pounds, the wiry Puerto Rican has at times driven a golf ball over 350 yards. He has consistently been at over 250 yards throughout his career.

Chi-Chi's talent extend beyond what he does on the golf course, he has a strong desire to make a positive impact on today's youth. He has founded the "Chi-Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation" in Clearwater Florida which is a home to troubled and abused youngsters. Chi-Chi's philosophy is clear, he wants to give kids a chance to succeed. "I figure kids are the future. If I made it, anybody can do it. I think I can be a good role model for them because they could look at me and say, "look, he's a small guy, he was poor and he worked hard and made it."

Chi-Chi's incredible career includes winning PGA tournaments four times in each of the 1990-91 seasons and was the only winner of back to back events in 1991. He became the first player on the Senior Tour to win the same event three consecutive years, he set a senior tour record with eight consecutive birdies en route to a win at the 1987 Silver Pages Classic, represented Puerto Rico on 12 World Cup Teams, won the Hispanic Achievement Recognition Award ('86) and Replica's Hispanic Man of the Year ('88) and was inducted into PGA's World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992.

Despite a strong, successful career, Rodriguez's health started failing him and it was showing in his game.

Rodriguez has not won since 1993 and some of his troubles on the course have coincided with a loss of power. He fiddled with equipment, worked on his game, tried to find out what was wrong, but couldn't figure it out. He was feeling weak and a pain persisted in his jaw, but Rodriguez never saw a doctor. He didn't believe much in medicine, so he left it unattended. Even when he had the worst kind of stomach pain, the kind that had him doubling over, Rodriguez figured it was simply indigestion. Of course, that is not so, as Rodriguez learned, nearly tragically. In October 1998, Rodriguez had a heart attack just before he was to play in a Senior PGA Tour event in California. "I had an artery that was blocked by 50 percent," said Rodriguez, who had an angioplasty to clear the artery. "I was exercising one day and that artery turned loose. Fortunately, one percent of the blood was flowing through that artery or I would have died." Rodriguez is also hoping others will learn from his mistakes.

Now he is feeling better and his heart is coming along fine. Thanks to the modern-day medicine and great doctors, we will continue to see Chi-Chi Rodriguez on the golf course doing his famous sword dance when he holes a putt.

Legendary golfer "Chi-Chi" Rodriguez has demonstrated to be a great golf champion, but he's a greater champion to the lives of our youths and to the Hispanic community.

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