Ok-Hee Ku, a Korean pioneer both on the LPGA Tour and on circuits across Asia, died Thursday at age 56, according to the LPGA Tour. The cause of death was a heart attack at her home in Japan, according to published reports.
Ku became the first Korean player to win on the LPGA Tour when she triumphed at the 1988 Standard Register Turquoise Classic in Phoenix, and she played consistently on the LPGA Tour for several years from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Before and after her stint in the United States, she was a consistent winner on the women’s tours in Japan and her native Korea.
She compiled 43 wins in Asia over a quarter of a century of competition and held the record for most wins in a Korean LPGA season with five until Jiyai Shin won seven times in 2007. She was the first player inducted into the KLPGA Hall of Fame, and served as the president of the KLPGA in 2011-2012.
''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.''