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Hinako Shibuno wins British Open

Hinako Shibuno is nicknamed the ‘Smiling Cinderella’.

Hinako Shibuno is nicknamed the ‘Smiling Cinderella’.   | Photo Credit: Tim Ireland

She became the second Japanese to win a Major, joining Chako Higuchi, who won the 1977 women's PGA Championship.

Japan's Hinako Shibuno hit a gutsy 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win a thrilling women's British Open here on Sunday, completing a fairytale story for a player nicknamed the ‘Smiling Cinderella’.

The 20-year-old, playing in her first Major, shot 68 for 18-under to win by a single stroke from American Lizette Salas. World No. 1 Ko Jin-young had to settle for third place following a 66.

Shibuno, who had never played a professional event outside Japan before, became the second Japanese to win a Major, joining Chako Higuchi, who won the 1977 women's PGA Championship.

Japan on Monday hailed the fairytale finish. “She did it!” said TV presenter Tomoaki Ogura after Shibuno, in her debut tournament overseas, became Japan's first Major-winner in 42 years.

All over the media

Shibuno's win at her first Major dominated morning television shows in Japan on Monday, topping news items. The story broke too late for the front pages of Japan's newspapers, but was splashed across their websites.

Despite the huge popularity of golf in Japan, only one Japanese player — male or female — had previously won a Major: Chako Higuchi at the 1977 Women's PGA Championship.

Social media was abuzz with congratulations for the 20-year-old Shibuno, who only turned pro last year.

“A star is born!” tweeted one Japanese user. “A historic achievement,” another wrote.

On Japanese television, Higuchi said Shibuno looked as “relaxed” as if she were playing in Japan.

“She is a new kind of player,” the Daily Sports newspaper quoted Higuchi as saying.

Shibuno herself seemed overwhelmed by the victory.

“I didn't feel that nervous when I was on the last putt,” she told reporters. But after the win “I was just covered in goosebumps and I feel so tense now I just don't know what to say!”

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 10:10:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/hinako-shibuno-wins-british-open/article28827100.ece

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