Ai Miyazato wants to limit her appearances in Japan next season and said Friday she does not intend to play on the Japan LPGA tour until after the majors wrap up at the Women’s British Open in August.
“I’m not thinking about playing on the Japan tour until all the major events are over,” said Miyazato, who earned a U.S. LPGA tour card earlier this month.
“First of all, I want to play and try and get into my stride. I’m thinking about playing in Japan when the majors are over and I can look at the results I’ve achieved (on the U.S. LPGA Tour),” the 20-year-old told a press conference in Tokyo.
Miyazato won the inaugural women’s World Cup with Rui Kitada in South Africa in February and claimed six titles on the Japan tour this year, including her first victory at the Japan Open.
The women’s game in Japan has enjoyed a massive popularity boost since Miyazato burst onto the scene and won five titles in her rookie season as a pro in 2004.
Miyazato tried to play down concerns that interest in the women’s tour would wane in her absence.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been the driving force (for the Japan tour). I have a strong desire to follow my dream and I don’t think that the tour’s popularity will dwindle.”
According to sources close to the player, Miyazato is planning to play on every U.S. LPGA tour event from February through April, beginning with the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay in Hawaii.
Miyazato, who will be based in Los Angeles, added, “First I want to win a tournament and will set myself a target of finishing in the top 10 in the money rankings.”
Miyazato claimed her tour card in style by winning the final qualifier in Florida by a record 12 strokes.
“My biggest goal for this year was to top the qualifier so I’m obviously very pleased about that,” said Miyazato.
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