MIYAZATO READY FOR RETIREMENT
The week is finally here. After announcing in May her intentions to retire from the LPGA Tour, Japanese great Ai Miyazato is teeing it up at The Evian Championship this week for her final competitive event.
“I feel happy, but I’m kind of sad to leave at the same time, because like I said, I’m going to miss all my friends on the Tour,” said Miyazato, who won the 2009 and 2011 Evian Masters prior to this event receiving major status in 2013. “Specifically the first couple days it’ll be really the mixed emotional feelings that I think I’m going to have. I need to really control myself because otherwise it will be really tough for me.”
The Evian Championship marks the culmination of a career that took Miyazato to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for 11 weeks in 2010. That same year, she led the LPGA Tour with five victories, and she captured four other titles during her 12 years on the LPGA Tour. Miyazato also has 15 JLPGA titles to her name, and has become one of the most beloved players on Tour.
“This is definitely one of my favorite tournaments all year-round,” said Miyazato, whose win at the 2009 Evian Masters was her first on the LPGA Tour. “Specifically this week it’s going to be my last event, like last-last event, and I feel great. I’m ready for this week to play really well actually, but I get to see all my friends in this tournament. So it’s been great so far.”
Miyazato has played sparingly in 2017, only teeing it up in 11 events. However, she comes to Evian-les-Bains fresh off her season-best finish of T5 two weeks ago at the Cambia Portland Classic.
And what’s next for Ai Miyazato? Only time will tell.
“I haven’t made any decision, but now I have time to think about it. It will be fun,” she said, with her signature smile lighting up the room.
PRESSURE NOT GETTING TO RYU
This has surely been a season to remember for So Yeon Ryu. The 27-year-old from the Republic of Korea captured the ANA Inspiration in April for her second career major championship victory, and followed that with a win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in June. That victory in Arkansas moved her to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, a position she has now held for 12 consecutive weeks.
But it has not been a wholly easy ride. Ryu admitted to feeling tremendous pressure thanks to all the accolades that come with the World No. 1 title.
“I didn’t realize it until I played at the British Open that after that I would think about it, then actually like being World No. 1 is a lot of pressure,” said Ryu. “I didn’t realize it, but finally I realized how much it is, how tough it is. But another thing I realized is that I don’t want to like give up. I don’t want to just run away. I just want to put on this pressure, and I want to fight through.”
If Ryu can take the victory on Sunday, she will join countrywoman In-Kyung Kim as the season’s only three-time winner. This is already Ryu’s first multiple-win season on the LPGA Tour, and she currently leads the Rolex Player of the Year standings by three points over Lexi Thompson. Ryu also sits atop the standings for Rolex ANNIKA Major Award honors.
THOMPSON ON A ROLL
Lexi Thompson enters the final major championship of the season in peak form, fresh off of her second victory of 2017 at the Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim. Thompson is the only American with multiple wins this season and the only player on the LPGA Tour with wins in each of the last five seasons.
Thompson hopes to join Suzann Pettersen (2013) as the only players to win both The Evian Championship and the event preceding. The other three players to win the event prior went on to miss the cut at Evian Resort Golf Club.
The 22-year-old sounds poised for the challenge of the quick turnaround from last week’s win, saying, “It’s definitely tough. Even though it’s only a six-hour time difference, it’s hard to get used to. I think I slept for like 11 hours last night. I’ve never slept that long, in a while. It is definitely hard to get used to the time change and just a lot of travel and having to play golf the next day, but it’s something I’m kind of used to. I’ve done the travel since I was 15 years old going out of the country and everything, so I’m pretty used to it.”
If Thompson can win again this year, she’ll be the first American with three or more wins in a season since Stacy Lewis won three times in 2014.
So Yeon Ryu is playing in her fifth Evian Championship, and also played in the Evian Masters in 2011 and 2012; her best major finish is T2, coming in 2016
Lexi Thompson is playing in her fifth Evian Championship, and also played in the 2010-12 Evian Masters; her best major finish is second, coming in 2015
Ai Miyazato is playing in her fifth Evian Championship, and also played in the 2005-2012 Evian Masters; her best major finish is T15, in 2013, and she won the 2009 and 2011 Evian Masters
“No.” - AI Miyazato, when asked if she had changed her mind about retirement
“She’s going to be always my idol star. Even though I cannot see her anymore on the Tour, she’s still going to be in my heart and she’s going to be my really good friend forever. I really want to be rooting for her in another chapter of her life, and also someday I’m like going to retire, as well, then she’s going to have the experience a little earlier than me, so for sure she’s going to be a really great advisor for me when I get time to get retired.” - So Yeon Ryu, on Ai Miyazato
“The Tour is definitely going to miss her. I’ve played a lot of golf with her, and she’s not only a great player, obviously, what she’s done for the game, but just her whole attitude and demeanor, she’s so nice so every single person, always has a smile on her face. You never know when she plays bad or good. I think she did wonders for the Tour, and everybody is going to miss her.” - Lexi Thompson, on Ai Miyazato