The JLPGA's Korean contingent acquitted themselves well in the 1st round of the JLPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup today. Young Gun Bo-Bae Song jumped out to a 2-shot lead over Ji-Yai Shin, Ji-Hee Lee, and Mi-Jeong Jeon, along with Yuko Mitsuka, by taking advantage of the par 5s and par 3s. But the elite field is bunched and nobody is out of it.
Here are the complete results:
1st/-3 Song (69)
T2/-1 Shin, Ji-Hee Lee, Jeon, Mitsuka (71)
T6/E Akiko Fukushima, Yuri Fudoh, Erina Hara, Shinobu Moromizato, Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba (72)
T12/+1 Sakura Yokomine, Miho Koga, Hiromi Mogi, Chie Arimura (73)
T16/+2 Momoko Ueda, Eun-A Lim, Hiroko Yamaguchi, Midori Yoneyama, Rui Kitada (74)
T21/+3 Maiko Wakabayashi, Esther Lee (75)
T23/+4 Ayako Uehara, Hyun-Ju Shin, Ji-Woo Lee (76)
T26/+5 Mayu Hattori, Saiki Fujita (77)
Mitsuka was +2 over her last 6 holes, while Shin, Lee, and Jeon played birdie-bogey ping-pong for most of the day. Fukushima went 33-39 and Fudoh matched her 4 birdie, 4 bogey total. Yokomine birdied her 1st 2 holes, but endured a bogey-bogey-double-par-bogey run on the front, while Ueda's 1st birdie of the day came on the 17th.
There are so many storylines to follow this week. Song torched the field in the very 1st event of the season, but hasn't won since. Ji-Hee Lee has won twice, owns the lowest scoring average among JLPGA regulars, and is looking to stay ahead of Yokomine and Koga in the race for the money title. Jeon has been slumping lately, but can break the 100-million-yen barrier in season winnings for the 3rd straight year with a win this week. Mitsuka, too, can break the 100-million-yen barrier with what would be her 2nd win of the season and 3rd of her career. Shin needs no introduction. Suffice to say that any money she earns this week only pads her world-leading winnings total for 2008. Fukushima, like Jeon, has been slumping in the last third of the season, but she, too, has a chance to break the 100-million-yen barrier, as does Fudoh, who's looking for her 5th win of 2008. A win by Koga gives her a chance to take the money title from Lee and would allow her to match Fudoh's JLPGA-leading total. Yokomine is looking for her 2nd straight win, which would turn a good season into a great one, particularly if it resulted in her finally winning a money title--she's finished 4-3-2 over the last 3 seasons.
With Shiho Oyama and Miki Saiki skipping this week to prepare themselves for LPGA Q-School, it turns out that Ai Miyazato ended her season less than 3 million yen shy of qualifying for the Ricoh Cup. Maybe this will convince Ai-chan to play a few more JLPGA events in 2009, particularly given all the gaps in the LPGA schedule.
But enough about next year. Can Song stay ahead of a star-studded field over the final 54 holes? Stay tuned!