With both Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda in the field for the JLPGA's third-to-last event of the 2008 season, there's plenty of drama this week in Chiba's Ito-En Ladies. But it was Shiho Oyama who took control in the 1st round with a bogey-free 64 that included a 30 on the back 9. Still, her lead is only 2 shots after Mayu Hattori responded with 3 birdies and no bogeys on each side. And with Sakura Yokomine firing a 32 on the front and Momoko Ueda and Erina Hara matching that feat on the back to join Maiko Wakabayashi at 68, not to mention a trio of leading money winners 5 shots back, Oyama has her work cut out for her this weekend. Her final-round meltdown last week, a 77 that dropped her from being in contention to ending up 13 shots behind winner Ji-Yai Shin, has to be providing extra motivation this one.
Here are the top 10 and notables:
1st/-8 Oyama (64)
2nd/-6 Hattori (66)
T3/-4 Ueda, Yokomine, Hara, Wakabayashi (68)
T7/-3 Ji-Hee Lee, Akiko Fukishima, Yuri Fudoh, Bo-Bae Song, Nikki Campbell, Kaori Higo, So-Hee Kim, Tomoko Kusakabe (69)
T15/-2 Ai Miyazato, Miho Koga, Ayako Uehara, Ji-Woo Lee, Mie Nakata, Yun-Jye Wei, Yuki Sakurai (70)
T23/-1 Eun-A Lim, Hiroko Yamaguchi (71)
T31/E Yuko Mitsuka, Chie Arimura, Akane Iijima, Miki Saiki, Yukari Baba, Yuki Ichinose (72)
T49/+1 Esther Lee, Hiromi Mogi, Rui Kitada, Tamie Durdin (73)
T59/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon, Saiki Fujita (74)
T69/+3 Midori Yoneyama (75)
96th/+11 Ritsuko Ryu (83)
Jeon has been struggling of late; we'll see if she can fight her way back into the top 20 over the weekend or if she misses the cut. And we'll see if Miyazato, Koga, Lee, Fukushima, and Fudoh can join Ueda and Yokomine in trying to put some pressure on Oyama, or whether the 22-and-under crowd of Hattori, Hara, Wakabayashi, Song, and Sakurai will lead the charge.