Former World No. 1 Shin Ji-yai to focus on Japanese tour in 2014

December 23, 2013
Shin Ji-yai announced that she'll be focusing on playing Japan next year. (Yonhap)

Shin Ji-yai announced that she’ll be focusing on playing in Japan next year. (Yonhap)

Former world No. 1 female golfer Shin Ji-yai will focus on playing in Japan next year. She says she has her sight set on the ‘money title trifecta’ – as she looks to do in Japan what she has already done in Korea (2007) and the United States (2009).

Her agency, Sema Sports Marketing, said however, that Shin, who has been dealing with back and wrist problems in recent years, had been feeling exhausted while playing both the U.S. and Japanese tours in the past.

The 25-year-old South Korean golfer plans to play in 12 events on the U.S. tour, the minimum number required to retain her playing privileges for the following season, while spending most of her season on the Japanese tour.

Shin won three LPGA events in 2008 as a non-member, including her first major at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Those wins gave her full-time playing rights for 2009, the year in which she grabbed three more victories en route to winning the money title and Rookie of the Year honors.

But, she dropped to 22nd on the money list this year with $602,875.

Overall, she has 11 wins on the U.S. tour. Her most recent victory came in February this year at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the first tournament of the season.

Sema Sports Marketing also said Shin’s main corporate sponsor, Mirae Asset Financial Group, will not retain the golfer after her endorsement deal runs out next February. She signed a five-year deal worth 1 billion won ($942,000) per year. Sema’s father said Shin will try to sign on with a Japan-based corporate sponsor since she will play most of her 2014 season there.