“Last smile candy.
That’s how fans, media, and even the players who sweated it out with Ibomi, 35, cheered her on to a new beginning as she decided to end her 13-year career on the Japan Ladies Professional Golf (JLPGA) Tour.
Ibomi will play her farewell event in Japan at the JLPGA Tour’s Nobuta Group Masters GC Ladies (¥200 million purse), which begins on Sept. 19 at Masters Golf Club in Mikishi, near Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.
When official practice for the tournament began on Sunday, the Japanese media rushed to cover her farewell match.
Japan’s Sportichi ran a feature story on the 17th titled “Smile Candy Retires”. The full-page article recapped the past 13 years of Ibomi’s career in Japan and included a special interview with her. “A two-time money winner on the JLPGA Tour in 2015 and 2016, with 21 career wins, Ibomi was known as ‘Smile Candy’ by her fans and was one of the most popular players on the tour. Lee, who has been greatly loved by fans, will retire after this week’s tournament.” The article went on to cover Lee’s 13-year career on the JLPGA Tour, as well as her golfing life from her beginnings in South Korea to her professional career.
The Chunichi Shimbun also reported, “Lee Bomi, who won the 2015 and 2016 tournaments twice and has 21 career wins, will retire this week,” adding, “She has led the tour as a big star on the JLPGA Tour for the past 13 years while enjoying great popularity.”
“I want to finish my last game with a smile on my face,” Yahoo Sports quoted Lee as saying in an interview during the press conference.
There was also a special pavilion dedicated to the retiring player.
To commemorate his retirement and fresh start, the tournament organizer, Japan’s Nobuta Group, set up a special “Ibomi Pavilion” in front of the clubhouse during the tournament. The Pavilion displayed trophies and photos of the tournaments he won, and sold merchandise to commemorate his retirement.
As soon as the doors opened, not only fans but also colleagues came to buy merchandise to commemorate his retirement.
“Fans and players alike came to the pavilion to take pictures with the trophy, and fellow players Yuka Yasuda and Kumiko Haneda even bought towels commemorating her retirement to hang on their caddy bags,” said Ibomi’s local manager in Japan.
The news of her retirement also brought her fans together.
Ibomi is one of the most popular players on the JLPGA Tour. In her heyday, lines would stretch for tens of meters to get her autograph after a match. Some devoted fans would follow her to all of her tournaments throughout the year, even traveling to support her in South Korea.
After this tournament, the scattered fans decided to reunite as they would no longer be able to see Ibomi compete in Japan.
For his farewell match, Ibomi had a surprise in store for his fans. She will play her final match with her caddie, Shigenori Shimizu, who she played with in 2015 and 2016 and who helped her win the money title two years in a row. Shigenori is a veteran caddie with 40 wins on the JLPGA Tour. He has caddied for Ibomi since 2013 and has shared 17 of her 21 career wins.먹튀검증
“This week is not over yet, so I will keep up my good form until the end and show my best,” Lee said at the press conference after her nine-hole practice round.
After winning the 2010 Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPFA) Tour Order of Merit and Grand Prize, Ibomi moved to the JLPGA Tour in 2011, where she won her first title at the Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup in March 2012 and went on to win 21 times in her career, including the 2017 CAT Ladies.
In 2015, her fifth year in Japan, she won the money list, and the following year, in 2016, she won the money list for the second consecutive year. In 2015, she earned ¥23,049,7057 in prize money, becoming the first player on the JLPGA Tour to surpass the ¥200 million mark, and in her 13 years of playing 288 tournaments, she earned ¥86,632,264 in career prize money.
Lee’s official retirement ceremony will be held after her second round match on the 18th.