DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., May 29, 2017 – Nine-time LPGA Tour winner Ai Miyazato announced Monday at a press conference in her native Japan that she will retire from the LPGA Tour following the 2017 season.
“I started golf when I was 4,” Miyazato said on Monday. “It’s over 20 years. I have received many supports from many people. So I would like to repay from my position.”
She added, “I received many messages from many people, that you have done well. Many players, older and younger, told me that they will miss me. But now I am very thankful. Friends, players, family were very warm and accepting about my retirement.”
Over her 12-year LPGA Tour career, Miyazato has amassed nine victories, 62 top-10 finishes and more than $8 million in career earnings. She spent 11 weeks in the No. 1 spot on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings in 2010, and became the most beloved Japanese golfer since Ayako Okamoto.
The 5-foot-2-inch golfer is known for her slow, smooth swing and garnered a huge fan following in her home country. Prior to joining the LPGA in 2006, Miyazato was a standout player as an amateur and later on the JLPGA. In 2003, she won the Miyagi TV Dunlop Ladies Cup as an amateur, a victory that Miyazato points to as the turning point in her early career. As a rookie on the JLPGA in 2004, she won five tournaments and six more the following year before heading to the 2005 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, where she won by a record 12 shots.
In addition to her on-the-course accomplishments, Miyazato is known by her fellow players for her bright smile and always pleasant demeanor. Her graciousness and desire to give back earned her the 2012 William and Mousie Powell Award. The award is given an LPGA member who, in the opinion of her playing peers, by her behavior and deeds, best exemplifies the spirits, ideals and values of the LPGA.
“If there is a nicer person than Ai on this planet, I haven’t met them,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “Ai is a world-class player and an even better member, person and friend.”
Miyazato will next play at the site of her most recent LPGA victory in 2012, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, which will take place June 23-25 in Rogers, Ark. Her final LPGA event is still being finalized.