Jackie Pung: Hawaii's First Tour Star

Jackie Pung twice came close to winning the U.S. Women's Open in the 1950s, but the first time lost in a playoff, and the second time was disqualified after posting the winning score.

Full name: Jacqueline LiWai Pung

Date and place of birth: Dec. 13, 1921, in Honolulu, Hawaii

Date and place of death: March 15, 2017, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Significant Wins

  • 1953 Palm Springs Open
  • 1953 Triangle Round Robin
  • 1955 Sea Island Open
  • 1955 Jacksonville Open
  • 1958 Jackson Open

Those five victories are Pung's wins in the early days of the LPGA Tour. Her most prestigious victory came as an amateur at the 1952 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.

In the Majors
Pung didn't win any of the major championships of women's golf. Her best finish was runner-up at the 1953 U.S. Women's Open, when she lost a playoff to Betsy Rawls. She also had a third-place showing in the 1958 LPGA Championship.

Notable Notes: Jackie Pung very nearly won the 1953 U.S. Women's Open in her rookie season as a pro. The Hawaiian golfer lost in a playoff to Betsy Rawls.

Four years later, Pung should have won the 1957 U.S. Women's Open, but was disqualified in one of the most infamous hard-luck stories in golf annals. Pung finished at 299, one stroke better than Rawls. But it was discovered when checking her scorecard that Pung signed for a 5 on the fourth hole, when in fact she had scored a 6. Her total of 299 was correct — but that one hole score was wrong. She was disqualified, and Rawls became the winner.

Members of the host course, Winged Foot, passed the hat and collected a $3,000 "consolation prize" for Pung — which was $1,200 more than Rawls' first-place check!

Pung essentially retired from golf after 1964, but in 1976, according to Peter Alliss' The Who's Who Of Golf, attempted a comeback. Her golf wasn't successful, but her weight loss regimen was: She lost 100 pounds in order to try that comeback.

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