Mikko Ilonen: Finland's most successful golfer announces retirement from golf aged just 39

Finnish golfer Mikko Ilonen in action
Finnish golfer Mikko Ilonen in action

Finland's most successful golfer Mikko Ilonen has announced his retirement from golf at the age of just 39 in order to spend more time with his family.

The five-time European Tour winner hopes to remain involved in golf in Finland, but says that after a winter off he realised he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Ilonen had not featured on the European Tour since December, and after mulling things over, released a statement on his website confirming his big decision.

His statement read: "I made a conscious decision to not involve golf in my off-season that started post World Cup of Golf in November last year. Instead, I have focused on my family and my own wellbeing.

"I have used the time well, which means that I have enjoyed the proper winter and I have done some things as I used to do as a kid, such as skiing and snowboarding. The quality time I have had with my wife and two kids has meant so much to me and I have realised that I don't want to prioritise other obligations ahead of my family.

"As a professional golfer, or as an athlete, you sometimes have to be very selfish. I have been selfish for 20 years now and I think it is about time for me to care about others as they have cared for me. I am very grateful for what golf has given me, but now I want to focus on giving back to those that have supported me and to golf in general.

"I am convinced that my retirement is not an end to one thing, but instead the beginning of something new and exciting. My passion is golf and I am determined to find a way of supporting golf in general and Finnish junior golfers in particular.

"I am really looking forward to what the future has in its hands and I hope that I can inspire young boys and girls in Finland and abroad to reach their goals in golf and in life."

Ilonen was the first Finnish golfer to win the Amateur Championship, and went on to claim five titles, two of which came in 2014 when he win the Irish Open and World Match Play Championship when at the peak of his powers.

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