Scoring is high in the 1st round of the JLPGA's penultimate event, the Daio Paper ElleAir Ladies. As of this writing, only 12 players are under par. Ai Miyazato had been one of them until she double bogeyed the vicious par-3 16th to drop back to E. Now she's joined the 23 players at par or better. Scoring would be even higher were it not for the great number of birdie holes on the front 9. If you don't take advantage of #4 to #6 and the 9th hole, however, the back is full of trouble. #13 to #16 have caused all kinds of problems even for the leaders, while all too many players have failed to even break 40 on the back 9. Shinobu Moromizato's 72 is an extreme example of this overall trend. She made 6 birdies, 6 bogeys, and 6 pars today, but all her birdies occurred on the front and all her bogeys on the back. Yup, she went 30-42. Tomoko Kusakabe was the only player to buck this trend when she opened the back with a bogey-free 33, but she blew up to a 41 on the front. In fact, only 3 other players--Ji-Woo Lee, 18-year-old Sakurako Mori, and amateur Kumiko Kaneda--were able to shoot 34s on the back. And, of them, only Kaneda had even a decent front side. Which is why she sits 1 shot off the lead at -2.
Thus it should be no surprise that only 4 players have broken 70 so far today. Akane Iijima, Yun-Jye Wei, Junko Omote, and Mihoko Iseri will have their work cut out for them, however, as they could only manage 69s. Iijima had the most drama to her round--a par-birdie-double-birdie-birdie-birdie-bogey-par-birdie string on the front followed by 3 birdies in her 1st 5 holes and 2 bogeys in her last 3 holes on the back--but none of them played bogey-free golf. Hence, despite making a double bogey on each side, Yuko Mitsuka is right in the thick of the tournament, having posted a 71 thanks to 5 birdies and no bogeys in her other 16 holes.
[Update 1 (4:30 am): Defending champion Momoko Ueda, by the way, made her 1st birdie of the day on the 16th hole (she's 1 of only 7 players to accomplish that feat so far today) to pull back to +2. That's a 3-shot swing on her playing partner Ai Miyazato, which again shows how fragile the leaders' position is on this course.]
[Update 2 (6:03 am): Play seems to have been suspended. Here are the results thus far:
T1/-3 Iijima, Wei, Omote, Iseri (69)
T5/-2 Esther Lee, Kaneda, Michie Ohba (70), Yuki Ichinose (through 16)
T9/-1 Mitsuka, Natsu Nagai (71), Sakura Yokomine (through 17), Ayako Uehara (through 15)
T13/E Moromizato, Tamie Durdin, Mori (72), Ji-Hee Lee (through 17), Miyazato (through 16), Midori Yoneyama (through 15)
T24/+1 Miki Saiki (through 17), Hiromi Mogi (through 15)
T34/+2 Erina Hara, Eun-A Lim, Maiko Wakabayashi, Ji-Woo Lee, Mie Nakata (74), Ueda (through 16), Akiko Fukushima (through 16), Rui Kitada (through 15)
T48/+3 Mi-Jeong Jeon, Bo-Bae Song, Chie Arimura, Hiroko Yamaguchi, Yuki Sakurai, Riko Higashio (75), Miho Koga (through 16), Mayu Hattori (through 16), Ritsuko Ryu (through 16), Saiki Fujita (through 15)
T70/+4 Yukari Baba, Kaori Higo (76)
With only 7 strokes separating the top of the leaderboard and bottom of the notables, anything can happen tomorrow, particularly if the weather remains dicey.]
[Update 3 (11/22/08, 6:40 pm): OK, they finished the 1st rund. Ichinose stayed at -2, Yokomine and Uehara at -1, Ji-Hee Lee at E, Ueda at +2, and Koga, Hattori, and Ryu at +3. But Yoneyama improved to -1, Saiki to E, and Fukushima to +1, while Miyazato fell back to +1, Mogi to +2, Kitada to +3, and Fujita to +4.]