Ann Shin Ae Discusses Her Return to Japan and Thoughts on Decreasing Media Exposure | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Ann Shin Ae Discusses Her Return to Japan and Thoughts on Decreasing Media Exposure

Sportswriter Kim Myeong-soon, who has been covering Anne Shin-hye for many years, looks into her return to professional golf this season and where she is now in her challenge in Japan.

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Last November, Ahn Shin Ae spoke about her enthusiasm for taking on the challenge of playing in Japan. She has been making efforts, including securing the right to participate in mid-season events until September through re-ranking.

Ahn Shin Ae made her debut on the Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (JLPGA) Tour in 2017, creating a sensation as the “Sexy Queen.” After stepping back from the front lines at the end of the 2019 season, she made her comeback at a domestic tournament in Korea last November.

She passed the Final QT (Qualifying Tournament) held at the end of the year and is participating in the Japan Tour this season for the first time in five years. After the Nichirei Ladies tournament held from June 14 to 16, the first re-ranking, which determines participation rights for the mid-season (until the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open in September), took place, and Ahn Shin Ae secured her spot by ranking 26th.

Despite a few years of hiatus and being 33 years old, she is still hanging on in the grueling tour. Out of the 11 tournaments she participated in from the season opener in March until mid-June, she made the cut in six. She demonstrated her competitiveness on the regular tour by finishing tied for 10th at the AXARE Ladies in MIYAZAKI in March. When asked about her feelings on passing the first re-ranking, she expressed her genuine delight.

“I am truly happy that I can continue to participate in matches. I am even more excited to play in majors and tournaments that I have never played in before.”

Regarding her golf form and condition, she said, “There was a period of about three weeks in the first half where I took a break, and I feel that my sense for the game has dulled a bit. I want to continue playing matches to improve my shot and build my confidence.” She seems to feel that by continuing to play in matches, she can achieve stable results. Since there are many courses she will be playing for the first time, managing and understanding conditions will be very important.

“The conditions of the short game change with each tournament, so I have to adapt to the greens, grass, and rough each time. To catch up with the players who consistently rank at the top, I feel I need to put in more effort.”

Her shot accuracy still boasts top-class ability, and expectations are growing for her first tour victory.

By passing the re-ranking, she cleared one of her goals for the first half of the season. However, at the tour site for the first time in five years, she feels a generation change.

“Young players are really leading the Japan tour, and their performance is remarkable. They have distance, but many are also very skilled in the short game.”

Regarding the atmosphere of the galleries, she said, “Japanese spectators and fans have good manners, and I feel their strong support for the players every time I participate in a match. Despite being away from the tour for five years, I find it very strange and am always filled with gratitude that there are fans who still support me,” she said with a smile.

From now on, she will enter a series of grueling summer tournaments. Of course, she has the desire to win, but she is primarily focused on playing her own game.

“After participating in several tournaments, my shot distance has increased, and my accuracy has improved. If I can maintain this form, I believe I can expect good results in the second half of the season. My greens in regulation percentage is low, so that is something I need to correct. The greens are small, and there are many elevated greens, so there is a bit of pressure when hitting second shots or tee shots on par 3s. I want to work hard on practicing to further improve my shot accuracy. My goal is to pass the second re-ranking.”

In 2020, despite having the right to participate in the Japan tour, Ahn Shin Ae was forced to give up traveling between Japan and Korea due to entry restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a decline in her motivation and her natural disappearance from the public stage. Having once withdrawn from the front lines, Ahn Shin Ae is now back in front of many Japanese fans, steadily achieving results and continuing her golf career. Her mental fortitude deserves even more applause.

Of course, her desire to entertain viewers with her bright-colored outfits and mini skirts, which often become a topic of conversation, has not changed. Interestingly, Ahn Shin Ae was aware that the media’s attention on her is lower than it used to be. She laughed and said about this:

“It is true that there is less interest in me than before (laughs). But I am still enjoying golf every match. If anything, the pressure is gone, and I can enjoy my golf, and I feel very relaxed.”

Of course, if she gets involved in the battle for victory, her opportunities to appear on broadcasts and in the media will naturally increase. As a visual queen competing among the younger players, we hope she will play a role in revitalizing the golf world in the second half of the season.

  • Interview and writing Myung-Woo Kim PHOTO Takehiko Kohiyama

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