Lack of motivation forces Miyazato to retire
Former women's world No. 1 golfer Ai Miyazato said yesterday that a crisis of confidence triggered her decision to retire from professional golf at the end of the current season.
The 31-year-old Japanese, a nine-time winner on the US LPGA Tour, admitted that her struggles dated back to 2012, when she claimed her last tournament victory.
"It was getting harder and harder to stay motivated," a tearful Miyazato told a news conference in Tokyo.
"That was partly to do with having reached the top of the rankings," added the Okinawan-born sensation, who has been tormented by her failure to win a Major.
"I actually began feeling this four to five years ago and, at that point, I basically had to keep going while groping for some way to deal with it."
Her mental coach told her that many players came to a point in their careers when they lose some motivation for the game and asked her to try to find a way through it.
"So I fought on for four years, but I couldn't really admit to myself that the motivation wasn't coming back and I wasn't able to practise enough or throw myself into training... The ideal I wanted just wasn't there any more," she said.
Miyazato won five titles in her rookie season on the domestic Japanese Tour in 2004 before joining the LPGA circuit on a full-time basis two years later.
She won her first LPGA title at the 2009 Evian Masters in France, a victory she said remains one of her favourite memories, and rose to No. 1 in the world rankings the following year.
With a slow, simple swing that made her one of the cleanest ball-strikers in women's golf, Miyazato finished her career without winning a Major.
Her best result was tied for third at the Women's PGA Championship (2006 and 2010) and the Women's British Open (2009).
She claimed the last of her 25 professional victories at the NW Arkansas Championship in 2012.
"I made this decision based on the feeling that I'd reached my limits," said Miyazato.
She gave no hint of her future plans, saying that she had the rest of the season left to play and that deciding to call it quits has actually given her more motivation.
"Now it would be nice if I can return the support I've been given in a new way," she said. - WIRE SERVICES