One of Japan’s fastest-rising pro golf stars is joining the Rakuten family. On April 29, Rakuten announced the signing of 21-year old Mone Inami to a sponsorship agreement that will see the world-ranked LPGA golfer don the Rakuten logo on her cap. Inami will also feature in a series of promotions spanning the Rakuten Ecosystem, including online marketplace Rakuten Ichiba, online travel agency Rakuten Travel, and of course, the company’s online golf reservation service, Rakuten GORA.
Inami surging in 2021
Inami has become an increasingly visible presence on the Japanese golf scene since her breakout campaign in 2019, where she won her first professional tournament and was named Rookie of the Year by both the Japan Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association (JLPGA) and the Golf Tournament Promotion Association of Japan (GTPA). She has since gone on to capture six tournament wins, including four wins already in 2021, earning recognition as one of the most promising rising stars in the sport.
Inami began playing golf at the age of ten, and never looked back, with consistently strong showings in amateur tournaments throughout the 2010s. In 2016, while still a student in high school, Inami was named to the Japan Golf Association’s national amateur team, which went on to participate in the Neighbors Trophy Team Championship, an annual competition between teams from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. After graduating from high school, Inami passed the LPGA’s professional entrance test on her first try.
This new partnership stands out as Rakuten’s first-ever sponsorship of a professional golfer. “I am delighted and honored to partner with Rakuten in this sponsorship agreement, a company which supports top teams and athletes all over the world,” Inami commented. “This new agreement has given me a powerful supporter. It has made me want to set my sights even higher.”
The LPGA is not yet inviting back fans for tour events, but Inami is excited to continue wowing fans watching around the globe.
“While we continue to play tournaments without fans for the foreseeable future, I will do my best on the course to deliver smiles and encouragement to everyone watching and cheering us on through the screen. Thank you so much for your support now and in the future.”
As this year’s LPGA Tour kicks into high gear, Mone Inami will look to extend her series of wins. As of May 17, Inami is the 28th ranked women’s golfer in the world, up 35 places since the start of the year, and the Tokyo native shows no signs of slowing. With Rakuten’s support and Inami’s continued growth as a star athlete, she is sure to be an athlete to watch for years to come.
Sport as a way to inspire and contribute to society
As the owner of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles professional baseball team and the Vissel Kobe J.League soccer franchise in Japan, and with global partnerships with FC Barcelona and the Golden State Warriors, Rakuten has long understood the positive role sports can play in society. Partnerships with individual athletes include Stephen Curry, and support of his “Underrated Tour” to encourage and highlight previously underrated young basketball players, as well as Andrés Iniesta, the legendary midfielder who joined Vissel Kobe in 2018 from FC Barcelona. As Iniesta continues to inspire fans across Asia, he is also collaborating with the club to help train the next generation of Japanese soccer stars.