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Finding Comfort

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

May 10 2013, Katie Ann Robinson
Nearly six months ago, 25-year-old Japan native Chie Arimura sat quietly in a crowded room filled with the rest of the LPGA rookie class as they celebrated earning their LPGA Tour cards for the 2013 season. She could hardly put two words together in English.

But just last week at the Kingsmill Championship, Arimura stood confidently in front of a room and delicately pieced together a few words to introduce herself.

“Hello, my name is Chie Arimura. I am from Kumamoto, Japan. Everybody on Tour give me nickname ‘Archie.’ Thank you very much.”

As Arimura sat down in her chair with blush cheeks and an innocent grin on her face, everyone applauded her solid attempt at speaking English and chuckled as they wondered what the story behind her new nickname was. No questions were asked though; for they knew just the simple introduction was a huge feat for Arimura.

Arimura, who has been working with an English teacher in Japan and frequently uses the LPGA’s Language Training Center, beamed later on as she explained the back story of her brilliant alias.

“So, my twitter name written on the back of caddie's bib, the spell was wrong,” said Arimura, whose Twitter handle is @arimurachie. “Actually, it said ‘arichie’ but everyone thought said ‘archie.’ So they call me that.”

For a seemingly timid international rookie on the LPGA Tour, the nickname did wonders for Arimura’s comfort as she feels more accepted among the other pros.

“Nicknames are fun,” said Ariuma. “I’m happy I have one.”

What most people don’t know about the petite 5-foot-2 rookie is that she comes to the LPGA Tour with four years of experience and success on the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA).

She made her professional golf debut in 2006 at 18 years old and played 11 tournaments on their tournament schedule. She earned her JLPGA Tour card at the end of the season with a third-place finish in the qualifying tournament.

It wasn’t long before she claimed her first professional title at the 2008 Promise Ladies Golf Tournament. Twelve victories and three years later, Arimura stood in the winner’s circle at the 2012 Japan Championship Konica Minolta Cup, her first professional major championship title. With this win, she broke into the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and started to think about taking her career to the LPGA Tour.

She said she had been hesitant with her decision to try for the LPGA Tour, but the major championship win provided her plenty of confidence that she could compete alongside some of the greatest female golfers in the world.

“I was thinking of LPGA Tour for a long time, but very undecided,” said Arimura. “I got a lot of experience in Japan. When I won major tournament, it helped me decide to go to Q-School.”

With Arimura ranked No. 19 in the Rolex Rankings when she headed to compete at the 2012 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, it was no surprise that Japanese media made their way to the United States to watch Arimura finish in a tie for fifth to earn exempt status for the 2013 LPGA season. Many say she is comparable to Japanese star Ai Miyazato, who claimed 12 JLPGA titles in two years before joining the LPGA Tour.

“Ai Miyazato is a role model for Japan golfer,” said Arimura. “She gave the dream and inspiration to lots of young players and myself.”

Arimura opened her rookie season with a tie for 28th at the HSBC Women’s Champions, where she nearly clinched her first LPGA title as a non-member just two years earlier. She currently ranks in the top 5 in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race.

With an already impressive golf résumé, it won’t be long before this rookie is comfortable competing on a new tour. As for her season goals? Nothing specific comes to mind.     

“I just want to play good my first year,” said Arimura. “My goal is to keep my card for next year but also become fluent in English!”

Topics: Player Feature, Arimura, Chie

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