TOKYO, Japan – Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki, Japan’s winningest golfer, will join the World Golf Hall of Fame’s 2011 class.
Ozaki, 63, was elected through the Hall’s international ballot, and will be inducted May 9 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. (USA) with South Africa native Ernie Els, Americans Doug Ford and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and the late Jock Hutchison of Scotland.
“Jumbo Ozaki is most deserving of this honor as his long and impressive career shines brightly for golf in Japan and around the world,” said Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum.
Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki 50%
Sandy Lyle 45%
Colin Montgomerie 29%
Peter Alliss 26%
Ian Woosnam 24%
Graham Marsh 21%
Retief Goosen 20%
Norman Von Nida 16%
Darren Clarke 6%
Max Faulkner 8%
Ozaki becomes the fourth hall of fame member from Japan, joining Hisako “Chako” Higuchi (2003), Isao Aoki (2004) and Ayako Okamoto (2005).
“I am very happy, very honored and appreciate everyone who has supported me since I turned pro in 1970 . . . but to be honest I feel I am still an active player and I want to keep competing on the (Japan) Tour,” Ozaki said. “The emergence of players like Ryo Ishikawa force me to keep my game sharp. I am delighted to join the other legends of the Hall.
“My only regret is not playing more outside of Japan, but I dedicated my life to Japanese golf and am extremely grateful the voters thought I was worthy of this honor.”
Born in Tokushima, Ozaki has more than 100 victories in Japan and was the leading money winner on the Japan Golf Tour 12 times since 1973. His best showing at a major was T-6 at the 1989 U.S. Open with top 10s also in the Masters (1973) and Open Championship (1979). He won six Japan PGA Championships and five Japan Opens.
Ozaki was the leading vote-getter on the international ballot with 50 percent. Typically, 65 percent is required for induction, but 50 percent is the minimum should no one top 65 percent.