Scores were low in the first round of the Resort Trust Ladies JLPGA event Friday. Kaori Higo led the way with a bogey-free 66, followed by Mikiyo Nishizuka with a bogey-free 67, but right on their tails are some of the biggest names on the tour:
1st/-6 Higo (66)
2nd/-5 Nishizuka (67)
T3/-4 Sakura Yokomine, Miki Saiki, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Yun-Jye Wei, Rui Kitada (68)
T8/-3 Hiromi Mogi, Esther Lee, Tomoko Yokoyama (69)
Higo, Yokomine, Saiki, Wei, and Mogi are coming off a week off, so the rest must have done them good. Jeon, meanwhile, bounced back from her worst tournament of the season last week in a big way--hers was the only bogey-free 68 of the bunch, although she couldn't match Wei's 6 birdies or Saiki's 18th-hole eagle. Yokomine, meanwhile, was the only player in the top 30 to bogey the 18th.
It'll be interesting to see how this mix of highly-ranked players square off against each other over the weekend. Yokomine and Saiki are both in our Best Off the LPGA top 10 and Jeon is just out of it, but all have had disappointing 2008s thus far by their high standards. Higo and Wei started the season hot but have struggled of late and are barely hanging onto the mid-20s range in the rankings, just behind Mogi in the high-teens.
Further back but not yet out of it are the following notables:
T11/-2 Ji-Hee Lee (#7), Ayako Uehara (#9), Na Zhang (#15), Eun-A Lim (#16), Akane Iijima (#17), Maiko Wakabayashi (70)
T18/-1 Miho Koga (#2), Hiroko Yamaguchi (#10), Yuko Mitsuka (#18), Chie Arimura (#24) (71)
T29/E Akiko Fukushima (#3), Shinobu Moromizato (#5), Yukari Baba (#8), Mie Nakata (#23), Yui Kawahara (72)
And still with a chance to get in contention by Sunday are:
T44/+1 Yuri Fudoh (#11), Erina Hara (#20), Midori Yoneyama (#21), Ritsuko Ryu (73)
T56/+2 Shiho Oyama (#14) (74)
We'll have to wait and see if Higo and Nishizuka can keep up their fine play tomorrow, if Yokomine and Saiki can catch or pass them, and whether Koga or Fukushima can go low and be in position to get in the mix on Sunday. With Bo-Bae Song and Hyun-Ju Shin sitting this one out, it'll be up to Jeon, Lee, and Lim to carry the Korean flag forward on Japanese fairways and greens this weekend.