Back in December, I passed along the news that Ji-Yai Shin plans to focus on the JLPGA this season. Back then, she was still talking like she'd keep dual membership on the LPGA and JLPGA and simply play the LPGA-required minimum number of events to keep her card for 2015. In keeping with that plan, Shin showed up at #22 on the 2014 LPGA Priority Status List dated 1/9/14. Well, the LPGA released a new list on 1/14/14, and guess what? Shin's name no longer appears on it! (Hat tip to Tony Jesselli for spotting the change.) I guess she put 2 and 2 together and realized that playing 12 events on the LPGA would be just as exhausting as playing 20.
Apparently, that extends to not signing up for the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, as well (as IceCat pointed out on the same Seoul Sisters.com thread). This supports the idea of focusing on the JLPGA, as non-JLPGA members Ayako Uehara and Harukyo Nomura are the only Japanese players to appear on the field list and Shanshan Feng, the sole remaining dual LPGA-JLPGA member in the world for 2014, doesn't appear on it. I guess it's easier to get to Thailand than Australia from Japan (plus Honda sponsors the former event, so you should see plenty of Japanese names there--and Shin is angling for a major Japanese sponsor).
What's weird about Shin's decision to leave the LPGA entirely and skip the Women's Australian Open is that she's the defending champion! What's even weirder is that she's already been featured in press releases on the tournament. What's weirdest is that she's also featured in press releases announcing that she'll be playing in Australia the week before in the Volvik RACV Australian Masters. Is she withdrawing from that event, as well? She doesn't appear on the LET's field list.
Assuming that Shin's not travelling to Australia to start the season, this certainly shows how serious she is about getting some rest in 2014. I mean, by removing herself from the LPGA's season-long points race, she's leaving $1M on the table. I hope she's not hurt....
[Update 1 (9:49 am): Here's the LET's field list for the Women's Australian Open. The only Shin there is Jenny, not Ji-Yai....]
[Update 2 (11:28 am): Here's the LPGA's response to my inquiry.]
[Update 3 (3:16 pm): it's worth recalling that former dual LPGA-JLPGA members Chie Arimura, Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Harukyo Nomura, and Ayako Uehara have all chosen the LPGA over the JLPGA for 2014. And everyone but Chie and Mika will be starting 2014 in the Bahamas!]
[Update 4 (1/18/14, 1:11 am): Check out Centurion's thoughts on Shin's situation.]