Mr. Lu, as he was known to golf fans throughout the world, died on March 15 of unidentified health difficulties, according to the Professional Golf Association (PGA) of Taiwan. He was 85 years old at the time.
When he became runner-up at the 1971 British Open at Royal Birkdale in England, he helped put Taiwan on the golf map. IMG’s Mark McCormack took responsibility for the nickname “Mr. Lu” while conducting his annual duties as a BBC commentator for the Open program in his annual year-end review. The moniker stayed.
Lu, who was playing in his debut Open, was almost unknown, but his distinctive pork pie hat made him stand out in a crowd. Lu won over the crowds by lifting or doffing his hat before bowing to appreciate their ovation. When he discovered the forecast called for extremely warm weather, he bought the bright blue hat to shield his neck from the sun.
We are saddened to learn of the passing of 2-time Hong Kong Open champion Lu Liang-huan at the age of 85. Mr Lu won the inaugural HK Open in 1959 before becoming our resident pro from 1962 to 1964. His 2nd victory at Fanling came in 1974. Our thoughts are with his family. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/7EdEcfz1lz
— Hong Kong Golf Club (@hkgolfclub) March 18, 2022
Mr. Lu, a former member of the Chinese Air Force, battled Lee Trevino to the finish, an old friend from Trevino’s Marine Corps days when the two had played in Okinawa in 1959.
During the 1971 Open, Trevino said, “I remember playing him in Taiwan one day and he beat me something like 8 and 7.” “Ever since I used to soar the ball beyond his short drives, he’s called me ‘Bird.'” With his drives, he’s always on the straight and narrow.”
But not on the final hole of the 100th British Open’s final round. Lu’s shot went into the left rough, narrowly missing a fairway bunker and forcing him to stand in the sand below the ball. Lu choked up and took a powerful stroke with his 5-wood from a hanging lay, tumbling backward in his finish. His shot ricocheted into the gallery and grazed Lillian Tipping in the face. Lu was concussed as her ball ricocheted back into the fairway.
Mr. Lu’s face became white when he came over to see what had happened. Lu would then travel to the hospital to see how she was doing, but she had been discharged. “Mister Lu, I am OK,” a message arrived at his hotel the next week at the French Open. This week, get a lot of birdies.” He won the tournament after she wrote him daily cables wishing him luck, becoming him the first Taiwanese and Asian golfer to win on the DP World Tour. Tipping and her husband were later given to an all-expenses-paid trip to his homeland, and they exchanged Christmas greetings over the years.
Lu, who was born in Taipei, was first introduced to golf as an elementary school student after accepting a job as a caddie to help support his family. He made improvised clubs out of bamboo and smashed little guavas for balls because he couldn’t afford his own golf clubs. During a decades-long career spent primarily on what is now the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour, he learnt the game under the instruction of H.S. Chen, a well-known Taiwanese teacher, and won all across Asia, including four times at his home country’s Open. He represented his country in the World Cup on multiple occasions, and in 1972, he and his teammates pulled off one of the great upsets by teaming together to win the trophy.(This is Taiwan’s only victory in the competition.)
Lu won the Hong Kong Open for the first time in 1959 before becoming the club’s resident professional from 1962 to 1964. During that time, Lu played an exhibition match in Hong Kong against Arnold Palmer, who was so impressed that he invited him to compete in the Masters in 1972. Lu was named to the Asia Pacific Golf Hall of Fame in 2010.
C.T. Pan, a Taiwanese PGA Tour golfer and Olympic bronze medalist, paid tribute to Lu in a Facebook post, remembering him as a man “with a large heart, and full of charm.”
“Mr. Lu is the teacher I looked up to the most in my childhood,” Pan wrote, “not only because of his high-end golf talents, but also because of his sharpness and coolness.” “Thank you for your efforts to golf, teacher Lu.” “May you find serenity.”
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