A 10-year-old Japanese golfer approaches the 12th sponsor


El Cajon, CA (AP) — Japan’s Miroku Sudo looks like a professional golfer with 11 sponsor logos on polo shirts, caps, bags, and even belts. Her parents say the deal is worth the mid-six digits each year and has a 10-year contract. Her 12th sponsorship awaits when she returns to her home three hours away from Tokyo.

Sponsors are so important that Sto’s mother and caddy, former figure skater Sto Miyuki, had her daughter turned into a sponsor’s belt before sitting in a video interview and carefully placed her hat in her hand so that the logo could be seen.

Miroku Sudo is confident that he wants to become a “legend” through an interpreter.

She has a way to go.

She is only 10 years old.

Sudo won consecutive titles in groups under the age of six on a par 3 course at the 2017-18 World Junior Golf Championships, but not as old as he was.

She struggled in a group of 9-10 years old this year, tying 17,18 shots behind the winner in a par 74, 4,201 yard layout at the Siquan Resort Willow Glen Course. She has left San Diego without a title three times in a row (the 2020 tournament was canceled due to a pandemic).

While a 9-10 year old girl and boy are wandering around the putting green awaiting the award ceremony, Sudo interviews at the edge of a nearby green, including an interview with a Tokyo TV crew who chased her for three days. On a suburban course. She lay on her back for a moment, and she showed some playfulness when she did the equivalent of a snow angel on the shaded grass.

If not, it’s all business. She and her mother wore similar clothes, such as wearing coral sheer soccer shorts.

Sudo is famous in Japan, who is crazy about golf, and in recent years has produced two major champions, Hinako Shibuno of the 2019 Women’s Open and Hideki Matsuyama of the 2021 Masters. It is not uncommon for women to have higher TV ratings than men in Japan.

Even at her age, strike golf exploits are routinely featured on television, but not so much in other parts of the world — at least not yet.

She is not the first child actor. When Michelle Wie shot 64 on Honolulu’s home course, she was 10 years old and she became the youngest player to qualify for an American female amateur public link. At the age of 13, she won the tournament and remains the youngest USGA champion. She almost won the LPGA Major at the age of 16 and eventually won the US Women’s Open in 2014.

That same year, 11-year-old Lucie Rie became the youngest player to qualify for the United States Women’s Open. Her sixth grade missed the cut at Pinehurst No.2. Earlier this month, Li, who became a pro, won her second Epson Tour event and is almost guaranteed her next year’s LPGA card.

When it comes to sponsorship, Suto has arrived at the right time.

Li ran into trouble with the USGA when it appeared in Apple’s ads three years ago. Regulations at the time prohibited amateur golfers from using their names and portraits for personal gain in promoting or advertising their products. The USGA warned her only once.

However, the USGA and R & A (Japan is under the jurisdiction of the latter) have modernized the rules. Starting this year, amateur status rules have lifted all advertising, expense-related, and sponsorship restrictions. The rule changes are aimed at elite amateurs who may need funding to reach their full potential.

Kids still have a long way to go to achieve it.

The most famous golf genius was a young Californian named Tiger Woods. He has been ranked six times in eight years at Junior World, a tournament that has attracted the best players from around the world since 1968.

Woods, who appeared at the Mike Douglas Show at the age of two, wasn’t able to use sponsorship funds. In a March World Golf Hall of Fame speech, Woods enthusiastically talked about his parents borrowing a second mortgage at home. He pays for his growth through the National Junior Program.

Another Hall of Fame, Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, won the Junior World five times in a row in her age group.

Sudo has won other international junior titles in addition to titles in Malaysia and Europe, such as last year’s US Kids Championship.

She laughed and admitted that winning these tournaments was “very difficult” and said her putting wasn’t good in the Junior World. She also broke the driver during the practice round and a new driver was rushed to order and brought in by the Tokyo TV crew.

Homeschooling Sudo said he wanted to match Woods’ six junior world titles. She has plenty of time given that the top end is a group of 15-18 years old.

Does Sudo feel pressure?

“There is no pressure,” she said.

And since she is chasing her goals, there is no lack of attention or sponsorship.


Other AP Golf: https: //apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports