09 October 2017

Ai Miyazato Says Farewell

This year, the Evian Championship not only celebrated their five years as a major event but also served as the closing chapter in the career of Ai Miyazato. The event was her final competitive golf appearance.

Following her announcement in May that she would be retiring, the 32-year-old Japanese player decided that rather than finishing her season at the final LPGA event of the year, which will be held in her home country of Japan, she would say farewell at Evian, two months ahead of the season’s end. The Evian Championship holds symbolic meaning for her; having won for the first time on the LPGA Tour there in 2009, it holds good memories.

Eight years on, after holing the final putt of her professional career, Miyazato was greeted by Gary Player, members of the media, friends, and fans. 

“It was a great moment and I'll never forget that I had that feeling by the 18th green,” said Miyazato, while holding flowers presented to her by Player, as quoted by Golf Digest. 

“I feel very happy right now and I’ve felt this way since I made the decision to retire, so there really hasn’t been any mixed emotions or regret,” stated Miyazato, as quoted by LPGA.

Miyazato, who was known as a teen phenom, began to shine on the professional circuit when she won her first LPGA title in 2009, three years after she gained her LPGA Tour card. She reached No.1 in the Rolex Rankings in 2010, staying there for 12 weeks. Since then, Miyazato’s career has been under a microscope.

“I've never seen any single LPGA player get the media attention Ai got since Nancy Lopez was a rookie,” said veteran golf writer Ron Sirak.

“Ai is like Tiger Woods in Japan,” said Golf Channel Japan reporter Mitsuki Katahira. “She is so tiny, but she was winning, so gave all of us hope. She is very sweet to everyone.”

Despite all her accolades, Miyazato was unable to win a major championship on the LPGA Tour. She won the Evian Masters twice before the tournament became a major in 2013. Still, her appearances always drew public and media attention, especially from her home country which put the weight of its expectations on her shoulders. It was that pressure which drove Miyazato to push herself, but her motivation began to wane and over the past four years she has increasingly struggled with the decision of whether to keep playing. Then, earlier this year she made the announcement that 2017 would be her final season.

When asked about she’ll be doing with all her new free time, Miyazato  responded: “Just having a normal life.”

  • Born : 19 June 1985 (age 32)
  • Higashi, Okinawa, Japan
  • Nationality : Japan
  • Turned professional :2004
  • Current tour(s) :LPGA of Japan Tour (joined 2004)
  • LPGA Tour (joined 2006)
  • Ladies European Tour
  • Professional wins : 25
LPGA Tour (9)
  • Evian Masters
  • Honda PTT LPGA Thailand
  • HSBC Women's Champions
  • Tres Marias Championship
  • ShopRite LPGA Classic
  • Safeway Classic
  • Evian Masters
  • LPGA Lotte Championship
  • Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
JLPGA Tour (15) 
  • Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open
  • Daikin Orchid Ladies
  • Suntory Ladies Open
  • APiTA Circle K Sunkus Ladies
  • Masters GC Ladies
  • Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open
  • Vernal Ladies
  • Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open
  • New Catapillar Mitsubishi Ladies
  • Japan Women's Open Golf Championship
  • IDC Otsuka Kagu Ladies
  • Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open
  • JLPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup
  • Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open
  • Sankyo Ladies Open
Achievements and awards
  • Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winner
  • William and Mousie Powell Award


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