GOLF

A ten-year-old golfer already famous in Japan

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A 10-year-old Japanese golfer, Miroku Suto, would like to become the next Michelle Wie or Tiger Woods.

These two golfers rose to fame as young children. Woods went on to become one of the greatest golfers of all time. And Wie caught the eye for her early success and went on to win the US Women’s Open in 2014.

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Suto already has more than 10 sponsors or companies paying him money for promote their names. She wears the colors of the sponsors and logos on her clothes when she plays or talks to television reporters.

She became known in Japan for participating in international golf events for very young children. But even with her wins, she’s still not widely known in other parts of the world.

Not always a winner…

Suto recently hit a golf course near San Diego, Calif., to compete in the World Junior Golf Championships. She competed against other 9 and 10 year olds and finished in 17e square. She was 18 strokes behind the winner.

Miroku Suto of Japan plays during the final round of the World Junior Championships golf tournament held at Singing Hills Golf Resort on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in El Cajon, Calif. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Although Suto played well on smaller golf courses in other years, she didn’t do as well as she got older. The course near San Diego covered about 3,800 yards and was a par-74 for his age group. Par is the term used in golf to describe the number of strokes most good players will need to complete 18 holes.

Suto won the championship on a shorter course at the age of six. This year was the third year in a row that she left the World Junior Golf Championships without winning.

…but making money

The difference between Suto and other famous kid golfers is that she is already making money. In recent years, international golf organizations have decided to allow non-professional players to earn money from their name or image.

Suto’s parents say she will earn over $100,000 this year. The girl’s goal, she says, is to be “a Legend.” The money she earns now will help pay for her travels and training.

One day, perhaps, she could be referred to as Japanese players Hinako Shibuno – who won the Women’s British Open in 2019 – or Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Masters in 2021.

Difficult future

It is difficult for players who became famous in their childhood to have the same success as adults. But there are examples for Suto to follow.

Miroku Suto of Japan plays during the final round of the World Junior Championships golf tournament held at Singing Hills Golf Resort on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in El Cajon, Calif.  (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Miroku Suto of Japan plays during the final round of the World Junior Championships golf tournament held at Singing Hills Golf Resort on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in El Cajon, Calif. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

In 2014, American Lucy Li became the youngest player to to qualify for the US Women’s Open. She missed the cut that year, meaning she didn’t play well enough to stay in the tournament after the first two days. However, Li recently won his second professional tournament. She is now 19 and will probably play next year on the top women’s tour – the LPGA.

At the age of 16, Li appeared in an advertisement for the computer and cellphone company Apple. At that time, non-professional players were not allowed to appear in advertisements. Li received a warning from the US Golf Association for taking money from Apple. But with the new rules in place, Suto doesn’t have those concerns.

Pressure?

Suto was asked how it felt to reach the same level as players such as Woods or Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, who have won multiple world youth titles. “No pressure,” Suto told The Associated Press.

Although she hasn’t performed well recently in San Diego, Suto has won youth tournaments in the United States, Malaysia and Europe.

She says she finds it “very difficult” to win competitions. Sometimes, like in San Diego, she didn’t putt very well. Putting is the act of gently hitting the ball with a flat club in the hole. Other times, she has problems with her clubs. She broke her driver and there had to be one precipitate to her from Japan. The driver is the large club often used to hit the ball far at the start of the hole.

Suto said she is aiming to win six world junior titles, the same number as Tiger Woods. She still has time to achieve this goal, as she can continue to play in the competition until she turns 18.

I am Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learn English based on an Associated Press report.

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words in this story

promote – v. make people aware of something by talking about it or advertising it

logo nm a symbol used to identify a company and which appears on its products

Legend – nm a famous or important person known for doing something good

to qualify – v. earn the right to do something

Rush – v. act quickly or try to do something without a lot of time

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