Hinako Shibuno won her first LPGA major championship at the 2019 AIG Women's Open in what was her first professional tournament played outside her native Japan.
A year later, Shibuno is seeking out a second major championship in as many years at the 2020 US Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. As you're watching that unfold, you may have heard announcers refer to Hinako Shibuno as the "Smiling Cinderella." Why is Hinako Shibuno called the Smiling Cinderella?
Shibuno got the Smiling Cinderella nickname from the Japanese media after she won the Salonpas Cup, the Japanese LPGA's first major of the year in 2019. She was 20 years old at the time, and the win was considered her breakthrough victory on a big stage. All the while, Shibuno was smiling and looking like someone who was enjoying what they were doing -- hence the smiling part. Maybe the Cinderella part is lost in translation, but it's probably the idea that Shibuno is now young golf royalty in the country.
That nickname has been brought to the LPGA, when Shibuno plays, since she seems to maintain a cheery attitude, even in difficult situations.
However, this week at Champions Golf Club has been difficult, and we've seen less smiling and more concentration on each and every shot in Houston. She has found moments of levity, but it's tough to be happy in these conditions.
Curiously, fame may have made Shibuno a little less happy. After winning the AIG Women's Open, she said the inevitable fame that would come with her victory at Woburn would upend her life.
“I know there was a big reaction after the first day, so I can't imagine what it will be like after today,” she said. “Now that I've won, I think a lot of the Japanese people will know me. In actuality, I just wanted to live a quiet life.”