Japanese legend Ai Miyazato has cited lack of motivation as the reason she decided to retire at the end of the 2017 LPGA season.
“I’ve been struggling to maintain my motivation for the last four or five years. Being a professional is all about results and lately I haven’t been able to achieve good results. I’ve found it hard to stay focused, even in training,” said Miyazato, who has nine LPGA titles to her name and was the world’s No 1 golfer in 2010.
“I have received a lot of support from many people, so I would like to repay from my position. I received many messages from many people, saying that I have done well. Many players told me that they will miss me. But I am very thankful. Friends, players, family were very warm and accepting about my retirement,” added the 31-year-old during a press conference in Tokyo yesterday.
Standing just five feet and two inches tall, Miyazato used her simple, easy swing to amass more than US$8 million in 12 seasons on the LPGA Tour. She spent 11 weeks at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings in 2010 but was unable to add a Major win to her resume. Her last win on tour came five years ago in the 2012 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Miyazato became a sensation in Japan when she won the 2003 Miyagi TV Dunlop Ladies Cup as an 18-year-old amateur. In her rookie season on the Japan LPGA Tour in 2004, she won five tournaments and added six more the following year. She then headed to the United States for the 2005 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, which she won by a record 12 shots.
Miyazato’s decision to retire was met by a stream of tributes from her peers as she was one of the most popular players on tour, known for her constant smile and pleasant demeanor.
“If there is a nicer person than Ai on this planet, I haven’t met them. Ai is a world-class player and an even better member, person and friend,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.