Women’s Golf: Miyu Yamashita’s Precision Shots Born of Thorough “Data-oriented” Approach
Dominating the prize money ranking and Mercedes ranking, behind the scenes of her big breakthrough as revealed by her father, who has worked with her as a coach.
Miyu Yamashita, 21, a new heroine in the world of women’s golf, is too strong.
At the Miyagi Television Cup held in late September, she set a new tour record for the fewest strokes played with a score of 60. She has won three matches so far this season and has finished in the top 10 in 17 of the 26 matches she has played, boasting an astonishing consistency. In addition to the prize money ranking, he is also leading the Mercedes ranking, which is based on the new point system introduced this season.
Since turning pro in 2008, Yamashita had only one win until last year, but why has he been able to achieve such good results this year? Behind his rapid growth is his father, Masaomi, who continues to support him as a coach (all statements in parentheses are his).
He says, “Ever since I started playing golf at the age of 5, we have worked together to create the style I have today. I have never praised him for his golf game until now. Even after the Miyagi Television Cup, all I did was reflect on what I had done wrong. If I were to praise him, I would only do it once, on the day I retire. What I emphasize is “thinking with data. I teach them not to change their play based on their feelings at the time, but to always make choices based on data. The results of my efforts are finally starting to show.
To embody his “data-oriented approach,” Katsumi says he has given his daughter a new weapon.
In 2008, when I debuted as a pro, I spent 3 million yen to buy a ballistic measuring device called Trackman. It measures the amount of backspin, launch angle, and tilt of the axis of rotation of the ball. All the pros use it in practice, but we bring it to the game. At first, people looked at us coldly, saying, “You’re too serious! (Laughs.) We measure everything we can, not only during games, but also during morning practice sessions. Based on this data, I try to grasp the conditions and develop the habit of thinking about course management.
Katsumi is usually the representative of a company that handles renovation and other projects. On weekdays, he provides instruction remotely via videophone connection during his work hours. He has also started to pay more attention to conditioning this season.
I have been doing 20 minutes of aerobic exercise on the morning of games in addition to stretching,” he said. I also never let him practice Monday through Tuesday. I am conscious of taking a good rest, having learned from last season when I got tired in the second half of the season.
His latest hobby is “collecting cosmetics.
Yamashita is a precise shooter who is always right on the money in a match. On the other hand, in his personal life, Yamashita is a normal 21-year-old who goes at his own pace.
He says, “I have always liked to be alone and have a free spirit. On my days off, I play with my three dogs or play video games by myself. I often play ‘Disney Tsum Tsum. I play it all the time, but my score never gets any better (laughs). It’s the only one I can beat. I also seem to be into collecting cosmetics lately. I have a lot at home. I often go to the hairdresser, and I guess I’m at an age where I care about how I look.”
There are only seven tournaments left. If she continues to play like this, she will surely break the record of Momoko Ueda (36) as the youngest money queen at 21 years and 156 days old. Katsutomi encourages Yamashita to continue her quest for a great accomplishment.
The title depends a lot on the play of other players. I hope that Yamashita will continue to play well on his own without getting carried away.
Will the “data-oriented” approach that the father-son duo has developed be carried through and result in the birth of a new queen?
From the October 28 and November 4, 2022 issues of FRIDAY
Photo： Courtesy of Katsuomi (1st and 2nd photos) Getty Images