I have to give Chie Arimura credit. She is one of the most popular Japanese golfers on the LPGA of Japan (some might argue currently the most popular). She is successful both on and off the course, winning tournaments and winning sponsors. The money on the JLPGA is very good. Honestly, she could have stayed there for the remainder of her career and, if she’s invested wisely, had a very comfortable life. Instead, she is taking a chance and testing her skills against the best in the world on the LPGA tour.
Speaking of her success, at only 25 years old she has 13 JLPGA wins including 3 in 2012. The biggest of those victories was her triumph at the JLPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup. This marked the first Major of her career. It was a very emotional win. In retrospect, I wonder if it helped her make the decision to come to the United States easier in a way. That is, she’s won every kind of event she can on the JLPGA.
LPGA fans might remember that Chie came close to winning the 2011 HSBC Women’s Champions event. She led that event through 3 rounds, only to lose the lead on Sunday, missing a birdie putt on 18 that would have forced a playoff with the winner, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb. Back then, I wondered if that loss would ultimately mean Chie would probably stay in Japan. I am very happy it didn’t.
Chie follows in the footsteps of the last two LPGA Rookies of the Year, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo. She isn’t coming in to her rookie season already owning an LPGA win like those two did, but like them she is coming in as a multiple winner on a major Asia women’s professional tour. Can she make the same adjustment that they did? If she can, she just might hold the Louise Suggs trophy at the end of the year.