Ai Miyazato to retire from professional golf

Ai Miyazato, former world No.1 woman golf player and the winner of nine LPGA tournaments, made and unexpected announcement Friday that she would retire from professional golf at the end of the 2017 season.

At a press conference at a Tokyo hotel on Monday, she elaborated that she had lost her “motivation to play competitively,” and that was the reason for her decision to quit.

During her career, Miyazato, affectionately known to her fans as “Ai-chan,” won nine LPGA tournaments, and 15 times on Japan tour.

Miyazato was born into a golfer family – both of her brothers are pros – and started playing the game at the age of four, encouraged and coached by her father who is a licensed professional golf teacher. While in the third grade at Tohoku High School, Miyazato won the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies’ Open Tournament in September 2003 at the age of 18.

She continued to win after turning pro, and won the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship to become “the No.1 in Japan” in 2005. She is credited with greatly increasing the audience and popularity of women’s golf in Japan.

After moving to play in the U.S. LPGA circuit, she won her first title at the Evian Masters in 2009, and went on to win five more titles in 2010 when she ranked No.1 in the World on the LPGA tour.

Miyazato says she will play in tournaments during the rest of the season, including the Suntory Ladies Open June 8~10th.