New Zealand's top golfer David Smail says a Japanese woman threatened his family after he ended their affair.
The Smails have chosen to speak to the Waikato Times to tell their side of a story about the woman who has threatened to ruin their marriage and Smail's life.
A remorseful Smail, 40, says that, when he repeatedly tried to end his affair with 27-year-old Sato Kurihara, she threatened her own life, his life, and also to expose the relationship to media outlets in both Japan and New Zealand.
Smail's wife, Sheree, says she will stand by her husband and their 25-year relationship.
This week, Miss Kurihara carried out one of her threats. She sent intimate images of the couple to news outlets. She said she was prepared to send "about 2000" pictures and a sex tape to support her story. Smail, however, denies that she has 2000 pictures.
In broken English, Miss Kurihara described the Hamilton golfer as New Zealand's version of serial adulterer Tiger Woods, but Smail also denies this saying he has had only one affair.
"We'd prefer to give one interview to the paper that has supported me over the years and be left alone to sort this in private," Smail said.
By speaking to the Times, the Smails hoped to diffuse the situation. They want Miss Kurihara to leave the family alone and drop the threats.
This week, an emotional Smail said he ended the relationship "for good" three weeks ago. Miss Kurihara was aware he had a wife and two children in New Zealand.
Smail, who fought back tears and held his wife's hand, told the Times how sorry he was for letting down his wife, family and friends.
"I've made a terrible mistake and had a relationship and that was unacceptable.
"I'm just really sorry to my family and friends.
"If I had my time again, I'd change everything."
Smail is taking legal action against his former lover, alleging she is stalking him.
Miss Kurihara worked with one of Smail's friends and "was very forward", he said. He did not want to talk about how long the affair lasted, but Miss Kurihara claimed in emails to the newspaper that it was three years. Smail denies this.
To buy time when she started to threaten him, Smail says he told Miss Kurihara he would leave his wife and kids and marry her, but he told the Times he had no intention of doing that.
"That was never the case. I was in such a bad situation with threats, that I ended up having to lie to her to protect everybody; to get on with organising a lawyer in Japan."
A stoic Mrs Smail said Miss Kurihara had interfered with the wrong marriage.
"She's not going to win any battle with us and that's all she's ever planned to do from the word go.
"She doesn't know what she messed with when she picked us to battle with."
Mrs Smail received a call from Miss Kurihara last week telling her about the affair.
"I knew when she looked at me, I knew what had happened, that she'd got the call," Smail said.
"I just told myself then that I had to tell her everything and not leave anything out."
But Mrs Smail, a former professional golfer herself, said she was 100 per cent behind her husband and vowed to stick with him.
"Like I said to Dave, if you love someone so much, you can't just stop loving them straight away, you just can't.
"It's weird, but I've seen other people and seen things happen to them and I always think how can they, but I just love him so much and I know our kids do too ... and that's not going to change and I don't want it to change.
''He's the same person, it's not the end of the world, he hasn't murdered anyone, that's the main thing.''
Smail said although he knew it would take time, he was committed to making the marriage work.
''We know he loves us, he doesn't need to prove it,'' Mrs Smail said.
Now, Smail plans to spend as much time as possible with his wife and children, but the couple did not rule out a return to golf in Japan, where he has been a successful competitor for 13 years, with career earnings of more than $10 million.
''Certainly I don't have to keep playing golf if I don't want to,'' Smail said.
''But in saying that, there's also the love of golf too. To give it all away for this; I think that's what she [Miss Kurihara] would want.''
Mrs Smail said she was ''shocked, stunned and devastated'' about the situation and there was no way they were going to let Miss Kurihara change their lives.
''We're not going to let her dictate to us what we'll do with our lives, we're not,'' she said.
Then to her husband she added: ''You'll go back to Japan and you'll blinkin' win too.''
Smail's Japanese manager Chris Tomo said a lawyer in Japan was pursuing Miss Kurihara with charges of stalking and looking into other charges.
Japanese Tour executive director Andy Yamanaka said Smail would receive support from the tour.
He could not speak highly enough of the New Zealand No 1. ''David has been a member of the Japan Tour for many many years. He is one of the top players and one of the nicest people on tour.''
So golf is likely to play a part in the couple's future, as it always has, but both know repairing their marriage is the main priority.
''I can't stop loving someone I've loved for 25 years,'' Mrs Smail said. ''But I'm prepared to work and this is nothing compared to what we've got to work on and we will, nothing's impossible.
''I don't know why but I think it's a good road ahead, I think it will be better than it has been.
''I think we'll spend more quality time with our family.''
Smail nodded in agreement.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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