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September 12, 2017

Ai Miyazato

Evian-les-Bains, France

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back for our final press conference today, and obviously a very anticipated one. We are here with two-time Evian Masters champion and former world No. 1 Ai Miyazato. As many of you know, Ai has announced her intentions to retire from the LPGA Tour, and the Evian Championship will be her final time out with us. Ai, can we change your mind?

AI MIYAZATO: No. (Laughs.)

THE MODERATOR: So this has been, I'm sure, a wonderful but a bittersweet week for you so far. You have 18 holes, but what are your feelings as you come here to Evian for the last time?

AI MIYAZATO: Well, first of all, I'm very happy to be here. This is definitely one of my favorite tournaments all year-round, and specifically this week it's going to be my last event, like last-last event, and I feel great. I'm ready for this week to play really well actually, but I get to see all my friends in this tournament. So it's been great so far.

THE MODERATOR: You said earlier this year that perhaps what changed your mind was you had lost maybe the motivation to play. Has that changed at all as the end has started coming closer?

AI MIYAZATO: Well, it's funny to say this because -- so I made the decision last year, and it's been almost a year ago, but because it's been limited, the limited period of time, so I'm starting to feel like a little bit more motivated to play golf because every week is not the same anymore for me. I had this since I was 20 -- no, 18, and it's been 14 years. Every single tournament is going to be my last event, so I'm starting to feel like I want to enjoy my game more and more, which is making it more simple to play well.

I've been playing good since last year. I feel good with my game, and like I said, I'm ready for this week, too.

Q. Have you investigated retirement? What goes on in retirement in your eyes?
AI MIYAZATO: You know what, it's still up in the air. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm actually not making a decision on purpose because the first -- like I said, I want to focus on every tournament, and I want to play well every tournament -- well, it's going to be the last tournament this week, but even this week, I still want to play well. Until the last moment, I still want to focus on my game and I want to enjoy every single moment. Because of that, I haven't made any decision, but now I have time to think about it. It will be fun.

Q. Can you just tell me three things you're going to miss?
AI MIYAZATO: Three things? Oh, man. Well, all my friends, that's for sure. That's come up in my mind. You know, this is like part of a big family because we all are traveling together the last over 10 years, and I'm definitely going to miss my friends. You know, playing the good golf courses, that will be missed so much, too, because I've played so many good golf courses. To have played good golf courses around the world, that has been a joy as a professional golfer.

And the last thing, hmm, I don't have a third one actually. Maybe those two, if that's enough for you.

Q. Who's here with you this week to celebrate your final event?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, just me and Tak, actually. Well my parents are supposed to be here, but my dad got sick and he couldn't make it, so that's kind of disappointing and kind of sad, but it is what it is. I think that means I have to enjoy myself more and more. But I'm pretty much available this week, so I can hang out with my friends, too, so it'll be nice.

Q. You have a lot of dinner dates planned?
AI MIYAZATO: Yes, it's coming up.

Q. You're obviously a superstar in Japan. Can you take me back to early in your career when it was the craziest? Paint a scene for me of when it was maybe overwhelming at times in Japan.
AI MIYAZATO: Yes, I think there was a good side and like a past side, of course. I was young, and I think it was -- actually to pay attention from everybody was actually helping me to play well because I had so much pressure on my shoulders, but then at the same time I was so able to focus on my game, too. So I was so motivated, and that's why I think I achieved my goal to be No. 1 in the world, which was awesome, and that will be my highlight of my life, too.

So the beginning was actually more enjoyable, I think. And then when I didn't play well, it was the really hard part because obviously I want to keep playing well, but then it's almost impossible to do that because the golf can be the same as your life; there's so many ups and downs. You have to accept your situation sometimes, but I was still able to get -- pay attention from everybody, so I couldn't handle it sometimes to be honest, but including that, all the -- I'm not saying because I'm having the press conference, but all the media from Japan, everyone is really nice to me. They didn't say any bad things to me, which was great. So I think that's how I got through maybe, kind of a little bit less tension and less pressure on my shoulders like the last maybe five years or so. So it was good.

Q. Is there anyone who's already retired, players that you've talked to about this next step?
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah, could be I want to hear something from Lorena maybe because she's one of my friends, and we still keep in touch. What she's doing right now is still inspiring. She's still done so many things for the LPGA and for her country, too. I can't be like her because Japan is a little different, but I want to do something like similar stuff.

Q. Who are you going to give all of your collection of nice long high stockings to?
AI MIYAZATO: I don't think no one wants it. (Laughs.)

I don't have anyone so far. I think I'm just going to keep it myself.

Q. You had mentioned Lorena. You played in her final event with her. Have you thought back about what that experience was like, especially with it being this week?
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah, I was actually thinking about it, you know, and it was definitely an honor to have played with her in her last event, but now my turn. I think it's a different situation how we made the decision. When she made the decision she wanted to spend more time with her family, I think that was the main reason she made the decision. But for myself, it's about motivation, so it's more like a personal -- both of them are personal, but she -- it's hard to explain it, but how I understand a little bit how she felt in her last tournament. Like I said, it's a different situation, but it's kind of a little bit bittersweet. Well, I feel happy, but I'm kind of sad to leave at the same time, because like I said, I'm going to miss all my friends on the Tour. Specifically the first couple days it'll be really the mixed emotional feelings that I think I'm going to have. I need to really control myself because otherwise it will be really tough for me.

Q. Do you remember much about that event, what it was like and the people following? Do you remember what the experience was like being out there with her during that final event?
AI MIYAZATO: Lorena? Well, I remember I played with -- Lorena and me and there was Natalie Gulbis, and I know Lorena and Natalie were really good friends, so they kept talking about what they're going through, and it was good to hear all the different stories. It was really fun.

But I think after the second round, Lorena was actually crying when she signed her scorecard because she knew that's the very last time to play with us. I think I get that feeling, too, but including that, I think it's going to be a great memory for sure.

Q. Obviously this is a special place for you, Evian; what is it about this place that brings out the best in you and has over the years?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, this was my first win. That was a very special moment to me. Well, obviously I really struggled the first four years since I came to the States, and I just couldn't play my best. It was a really tough moment that I had. But finally I won this tournament, and I remember the last putt, my hands was really shaky, and it was almost impossible to hit the putt. But I did it, and then I made a birdie on the last hole, and it was a great memory for sure.

But 2011 when the huge earthquake hit in Japan, at the time I was with two different Japanese girls, we made like the Cherokee Foundation, and that tournament actually helped us, which was great. It was good news to Japan, the people we're helping and care of Japan, and that was definitely encouraging to Japanese people. That's a good memory, too.

Q. And your father is obviously a huge influence, your instructor. Can you just comment on what he's meant to your career and just how important he is?
AI MIYAZATO: He is definitely a good coach, and he's definitely a good dad and a good friend of mine. He knows me really well, of course, as a dad, as a coach, too. I trust in him what -- we kind of had a fight a little bit, but we ended up usually can understand what we're saying, so he was actually a really good listener, too, and I get sometimes stubborn, but he accepts that. So it went really well, and he usually says more like -- he talks about more outside of the golf course, too; you need to be happy and you need to make a balance between life and golf. So he's not only just the golf course, he's been a great teacher of my life. I'm glad I have him.

THE MODERATOR: On behalf of the LPGA, good luck, we will miss you, and any time you want to come back, you are always welcome.

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