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Trailblazing golfer Ku Ok-hee dies in Japan

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- Ku Ok-hee, the first South Korean to win on the LPGA Tour, has passed away at the age of 56, the local governing body of women's golf said Thursday.

The Korean LPGA (KLPGA) said Ku died of a heart attack on Wednesday at a golf club in Shizuoka, Japan. Ku had been staying in her residence on the course and didn't play golf on the day she passed away, the KLPGA added.

Ku won the Standard Register Turquoise Classic on the LPGA Tour in March 1988, becoming the first South Korean to find the winner's circle in the world's most prestigious women's tour.

Since her maiden win, South Koreans have become a dominant force in women's golf. Over the last quarter century, 37 South Korean golfers, including those of Korean descent, have claimed 118 LPGA titles, led by Pak Se-ri, a World Golf Hall of Famer with 25 wins.

Ku made her professional debut in 1978 and began playing in Japan full-time in 1983. She notched 20 victories on the KLPGA Tour and 23 wins on the LPGA of Japan Tour.

Ku served as the president of the KLPGA from 2011 to 2012.

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