Sunday, December 22, 2013

Momoko Ueda Announces Departure from LPGA

Just yesterday I speculated that Momoko Ueda might try to limit her LPGA schedule in 2014 to the minimum number of starts required to keep her card for 2015.  So I decided to check out her blog to see if she's said anything recently about her plans for next season.  It turns out she announced just after Thanksgiving that she won't be playing on the LPGA in 2014.  In her announcement, she looked back on her 6 years on the LPGA, explained her decision to focus exclusively on the JLPGA next year, thanked Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Ayako Uehara, and Shiho Oyama, along with her family, her team, and her fans, and let everyone know that after a brief hibernation she wants to start the spring healthy and go after new dreams and new goals.  She hasn't given up on her goal of winning in the United States, though.  She said that she still intends to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Ueda qualified for the LPGA by winning the Mizuno Classic in 2007 in part because of a super-rare double eagle in the final round.  That year, she won 4 other times on the JLPGA and led the tour's money list.  In the midst of her rookie year on the LPGA the following season, Ueda won twice more on the JLPGA, but followed them up with only 2 more wins in Japan, the AXA Ladies in 2009 and the Mizuno Classic in 2011.  Those 2 Mizuno wins count as LPGA wins, as well, and they're Ueda's only ones in her 6 years on tour.  By my count, Ueda played 107 events as an LPGA member; her only top 3s came from those Mizuno wins and she added only 6 more top 10s.  Even though she made the cut 78.5% of the time on the LPGA and won almost $1.70M, it's clear that her expectations and goals were much higher and that not being close to contention over 90% of the time weighed heavily on her.  She didn't join the LPGA just to make cuts and collect paychecks.  Not long before she turned 27, she decided it was time to play the JLPGA full-time.

So Ueda finishes this phase of her LPGA career ranked 34th among the players who joined the tour since 2005, ranked 6th (as of July) in her rookie class of 2008, and ranked 7th (as of March) among the LPGA's 2-time winners.  Let's see if she can make like Shiho Oyama and fight her way back to being one of Japan's top female golfers again!

1 comment:

wibruce said...

Wish her all the best. Met her when she was in Wisconsin for LPGA and she was the nicest person you could ever want to meet. Will always be a fan. She is a true champion and a credit
to the game.