25th-ranked Esther Lee is off to an early lead in the opening round of the Japan Women's Open after shooting a 4-under-par 68. Barely breaking 70 were Yui Kawahara and Mika Takushima. 16-year-old amateur Kotono Kozuma is only 3 shots back, along with JLPGA regulars Maiko Wakabayashi and So-Hee Kim. Among the big names going out early, Momoko Ueda and Ji-Hee Lee shot 73s, Yuko Mitsuka and Shiho Oyama 74s, Yuri Fudoh and Midori Yoneyama 76s, and Miho Koga and Chie Arimura 77s. Yup, the scoring is generally high. More as more scores come in!
[Update 1 (4:45 am): Mie Nakata joined the big group at -1 (T5), while Nikki Campbell's 70 put her alone in 4th. Rounding out the top 10 at E for the day were Akiko Fukushima, Ai Tanaka, and Yeojinn Kang. The hits just kept coming for the rest of the field. Ai Miyazato, Ayako Uehara and Yuki Ichinose shot 74s (T20), Erina Hara, Bo-Bae Song, Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, and Ji-Woo Lee 75s (T30), Miki Saiki, Hiroko Yamaguchi, Kaori Higo, and Mayu Hattori 76s (T44), Sakura Yokomine and Shinobu Moromizato 77s (T59), Mi-Jeong Jeon 78 (T72), Tamie Durdin 80 (T89), and Yun-Jye Wei 81 (T96). Yeesh! As the JWO "readerboard" is only in Japanese and the JLPGA tournament site has not yet posted its hole-by-hole ranking, I'll hold off on more for now.]
[Update 2 (8:48 am): OK, here's the leaderboard I'm used to. A few notes on it: Esther Lee's round was the only bogey-free one of the day; Nikki Campbell sandwiched 5 birdies on the front between a bogey on the 1st hole and a double bogey on the 9th, but parred every hole on the back; Ji-Woo Lee eagled the short par 5 6th hole, but shot a 40 on the back; Ai-chan was -2 through 11 but doubled the 12th and made bogeys on the very same holes--the medium-length par 4 15th and short par 5 18th--that Momoko Ueda had birdied to salvage her round; Ayako Uehara was -1 heading into the par-3 14th and tripled it; Yun-Jye Wei went 36-45, with a par on the 10th and a double on the 11th her only non-bogeys of the back. There are many more horror stories than uplifting ones, with birdies seemingly coming less often than doubles or worse the further down the leaderboard you get. If anyone finishes this tournament under par, I'll be amazed!]
[Update 3 (8:56 am): Wow, you'd think Kyodo wire service would try a little harder for a major, wouldn't you?]