Sakiki Baba Pursuing Global Excellence Through Lower Tours in America, Faces Challenges to Unleash Her Talent | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Sakiki Baba Pursuing Global Excellence Through Lower Tours in America, Faces Challenges to Unleash Her Talent

A year and a half after her shocking U.S. Women's Amateur victory, the crown jewel of Japanese women's golf makes her debut on the U.S. lower tour, and her physical coach reveals "what's inside the physical transformation" of the world's best amateur.

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Baba hitting a tee shot in her tour debut on March 8. Kamata says, “Compared to when she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, her body has grown considerably,” but Baba is still aiming higher!

In the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship, Sakiki Baba (18) became the second Japanese person in history to win. She made her tour debut at the “Florida Natural Charity Classic” held from March 8th to 10th.


“On the first and second days, she played under par and positioned herself well at 12th place, four strokes behind the leader. However, on the final day, with a poor performance including a double bogey, she finished at 3-under in 14th place. While she didn’t make it to the top 10, she outperformed veteran players like Ayako Uehara (40), who finished 69th. For a debut match, it wasn’t perfect, but perhaps close to 100 points,” said a sports desk editor.

Having passed the pro test in November last year, Baba chose not to participate in the qualifying tournament (QT) for a seed position on the domestic tour in Japan. Instead, she opted to challenge the final qualifying tournament for the U.S. Women’s Tour, aiming to fulfill her dream of becoming a successful player overseas. However, reality proved to be tough as she finished 62nd at 5-under overall, failing to secure a tour card.

“There are many areas I need to improve to become a stronger golfer,” she said, expressing her frustration.

With a sense of frustration evident in her words, she struggled to decide on her main battlefield and eventually chose to compete in the lower-tier tour in the United States. Takashi Kamata, who has been Baba’s physical trainer since she was 15 years old and once coached Ai Miyazato (38), shares his thoughts,

“I believe the main challenge for Sakiki to fully develop her talent lies in autonomy. Until now, she has relied heavily on the dedicated support of her parents and coaches. However, for her trip to the United States this time, neither her parents nor her coach accompanied her, and she fought almost single-handedly. This season will be a year of honing her autonomy and experiencing American golf firsthand through rigorous training.”


Baba’s strength lies in the distance she achieves with her 175cm tall stature.

“Despite her slim appearance, she possesses strong physicality. Muscle strength is not only determined by the cross-sectional area (thickness) of the muscles but also by the longitudinal section (length). To leverage this length, we focused on thoroughly training her core. Recently, her body balance has improved, and she’s gradually overcoming the challenge of being too thin. With continued training, she can attain an even more evolved physique.

However, gaining power suddenly without accompanying skills is meaningless. Building the body to support skill improvement is essential. This year, it’s about how much she can strengthen herself mentally included. If things go well, it wouldn’t be surprising for her to win overseas majors the following year after showing progress.”

To become a strong golfer— with the strongest physique nurtured through diligent training and autonomy honed through solitary battles— Baba could surely become the shining queen in America and around the world.

She is rapidly gaining attention as Hope. She belongs to Suntory, the same company as Hinako Shibuno (25) and others. Expect more media appearances in the future.

From the March 29, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Kyodo News, Jiji Press

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