Wednesday, March 4, 2009

JLPGA Kicks Off 2009 Season with Daikin Orchid Ladies

If you can read Japanese (or have a half-decent translation program at hand), you, too, can check out the JLPGA's preview of the Daikin Orchid Ladies event in Okinawa that kicks off their 2009 season. I'm brushing off my own rusty Japanese to figure out who's in the field and what the 1st round pairings are. You can expect all the JLPGA's finest to be there, except for those playing in the HSBC Women's Champions Showdown in Singapore.

Defending champion Bo-Bae Song is going off the 1st tee at 10:18 am with Sakura Yokomine and Mayu Hattori. They'll get to see a lot of Mi-Jeong Jeon, Erina Hara, and Yuko Mitsuka in the pairing before them, as well as Yuri Fudoh, Miho Koga, and Shinobu Moromizato after them. If you click on the names in the other front-side pairings, you'll see that the tournament organizers continued this pattern of placing up-and-coming young players (including promising amateurs) with established stars. Of particular interest to me are the professional premieres of Kumiko Kaneda (10:00 am), Rikako Morita (9:51 am), and Yuki Sakurai (9:42 am)--who actually started her professional career on the LET but may well have decided to play regularly on the JLPGA this season or split her time between the 2 tours--as well as the return to the JLPGA of Miki Saiki (9:24 am) after her failure to secure any status on the LPGA at their 2008 Q-School and Hyun-Ju Shin (10:36 am) after injuries kept her out of most of the 2nd half of last season. Among the 2008 Step-Up Tour graduates going off the back alongside the 30- and 40-something veterans (including Korean legend Woo-Soon Ko), I'm most interested in Mai Arai (8:30 am).

We'll see how all the newbies fare and how quickly they adjust to life in the JLPGA fast lane starting tonight!

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