Sakura Yokomine, a ‘mom golfer’ who dreams of making a leap forward

Sakura Yokomine, a ‘mom golfer’ who dreams of making a leap forward

“When I was in my 20s, when I was winning often, golf wasn’t so fun that I wanted to retire when I turned 30. On the contrary, he now loves it so much that he wants to continue playing golf as long as possible.”

Finished the first round of the OK Financial Group Shotman Open (total prize money of KRW 800 million) of the Korea Ladies Professional Golf (KLPGA) Tour, which opened at the Club 72 Haneul Course in Incheon on the 15th, with a score of 1 under par 71 (3 birdies, 2 bogeys) and ranked in the top 30. Yokomine Sakura (38) said this and smiled comfortably. I was reminded of him honestly answering various questions during a friendly match between Korean and Japanese tour stars held in Okinawa, Japan in 2009.

Yokomine participated in this competition as an invited player. He said, “I said to Ahn Seon-ju, who was active in Japan, ‘I want to participate in the Korean competition,’ and with the help of many people in Korea, I was able to compete in two competitions, this competition and next week’s Hana Financial Group Championship.” This is the second time Yokomine has competed in a KLPGA Tour tournament since the 2017 Hite Jinro Championship.

Yokomine, once the best player in Japan, ranked 70th in prize money last year, and this year, he participated in 15 tournaments as an invited player and ranked 111th in prize money. He said he would secure a seed for next year by taking the JLPGA Tour qualifying test again this year. Yokomine said, “If you win 30 games in Japan, you will receive a permanent seed,” and “My goal now is to get 7 more wins to reach 30 wins.” He still has an unbreakable spirit.

Yokomine is one of the most popular stars on the Japan Ladies Professional Golf (JLPGA) tour in the 2000s. She has 23 wins, including being named JLPGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2005, JLPGA Tour Money King in 2009, and JLPGA Tour Player of the Year in 2009 and 2013. She ranks 6th in career prize money on the JLPGA Tour (394 games, 1.066 billion yen). During his heyday, he had such an attractive play that many Japanese fans were mesmerized when “Sakura-chan (a familiar Japanese name)” appeared on the Golf Channel. With a small body of 155cm, he overswings so much that the club head touches his left foot during the backswing, and he hit a long shot of up to 270 yards. Even though the putter is a cutting method, it was surprisingly accurate. In order to improve the accuracy of his shots when he was a junior, he practiced hitting a target made of bamboo with a driver by placing it 30 meters in front of him. He has an interesting history that makes him look like the protagonist of a golf cartoon. He is close to Korean players such as Ahn Seon-ju, Lee Ji-hee, Choi Woon-jeong, and Heo Mi-jeong, who walked the golf path together from his junior days to his professional stage.

Yokomine is a ‘mother golfer’ who gave birth to a son in February 2021. He married Yotaro Morikawa, a former soccer player and mental training expert, in 2014. He became a mental coach after being introduced by a friend. Mr. Morikawa is also the author of the book ‘How to Raise a Child Strong in Practical Challenges’, which was translated and published in Korea in 2018.

Yokomine Sakura is continuing her career as a player after giving birth to her son (Tori) in 2021. Due to his influence, the JLPGA Tour has an increasing number of competitions that operate childcare facilities. The photo is a photo of a daycare facility notification provided by his sponsor, Epson. /Yokomine Sakura Instagram

Last year, the JLPGA Tour launched a tournament that operated a daycare center for the first time. This year, the number of competitions running daycare centers has increased by nearly 10. Yokomine said, “I hope this will help create an environment so that athletes who want to continue their careers even after having children can experience less difficulties.” The operation of daycare centers is common on the U.S. LPGA Tour. Korea is not there yet.스포츠토토

He told the story of how he had enjoyed delicious Korean grilled pork belly with his family the day before and showed photos. It was grilled pork belly in which the meat was grilled in the center of an iron plate and eggs were placed around it. It is said that his mother is helping raise the child. She also brought her mother to Korea.

Golf is said to be a ‘mental sport,’ so wouldn’t it be best if her husband were a mental coach? Mr. Morikawa smiled and said, “90% of the skills that enable the best performance are made up of the mentality, and on top of that,” he said. Yokomine still hits a 250-yard driver shot. The swing has been refined to be more compact than before.

Yokomine entered the U.S. LPGA Tour in 2015 when she was 30 years old. Although he maintained his tour seeding until 2021, he never won a championship. He said, “I went through a severe slump, but it was a time when I learned a valuable sense of challenge as a golf player.”

It is said that he received warm encouragement from KLPGA Tour Chairman Kim Jeong-tae, who participated in the pro-am of this tournament, saying, “I hope that you and your family will make good memories along with good competition in Korea.”

As the oldest player in this tournament, he said, “With a precious heart, I want to play my best game one round at a time during the two weeks I am in Korea.”

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