Saori Ikushima has made a grand total 1 cut on the JLPGA this season, but today she broke 70 for the 1st time in 2008 with a flawless 66 in the 1st round of the Meiji Chocolate Cup. She has a 2-shot lead on the hottest Korean golfer on the JLPGA right now, Ji-Woo Lee, who has posted 8 top 20s in her last 11 starts--including 3 top 10s and a T3 last week--and who joined Ikushima and Akiko Fukushima (-1, T14) as the only players in the field to shoot bogey-free 1st rounds. Also 2 shots back is Saiki Fujita, who matched Ikushima with 6 birdies.
Here's how the top 10 looks:
1st/-6 Ikushima (66)
T2/-4 Lee, Fujita (68)
T4/-3 Hyun-Ju Shin, Yuri Fudoh, Yuka Shiroto, Mayu Hattori, Sachie Kikuchi (69)
T9/-2 Chie Arimura, Erina Hara, Yuko Saitoh, Julie Lu, Tomoko Kusakabe (70)
Shin, Fudoh, and Arimura are looking for their 2nd win of the season, while the rest are hoping to continue the run of 1-time winners on the JLPGA that started back in the very 1st tournament and has continued uninterrupted ever since.
The rest of the JLPGA's best have their work cut out for them this weekend:
T14/-1 Fukushima, Miki Saiki, Yuko Mitsuka, Yuki Ichinose (71)
T21/E Ayako Uehara, Yukari Baba (72)
T28/+1 Miho Koga, Akane Iijima, Shiho Oyama (73)
T38/+2 Sakura Yokomine, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ritsuko Ryu (74)
T58/+3 Shinobu Moromizato, Yun-Jye Wei (75)
T75/+4 Midori Yoneyama, Esther Lee (76)
But with a relatively untested top of the leaderboard, there may be a chance to make up a lot of ground over the final 36 holes.
Can Yuri Fudoh finally break the 1 billion yen barrier in career winnings this week? Can Ji-Woo Lee break through into the JLPGA's Korean elite? Only time will tell!