With Ji-Yai Shin, Momoko Ueda, and Shiho Oyama--all top 10 players on the JLPGA last season (despite the former 2's limited schedules)--returning to Japan during the LPGA's summer vacation, the JLPGA's current finest knew they would have to bring their A-games from their own 2-week break. Of the best of them, only Sakura Yokomine might have had any rust to complain of, as virtually every player in the top 15 played in the LET/LPGA's Evian Masters and/or the LGU's Women's British Open. But at least she would be rested coming into the JLPGA season's 2nd half. With Ai Miyazato, the hottest golfer on the planet after her win at Evian and near-miss at the WBO, taking a week off (along with Mi-Jeong Jeon, Yuri Fudoh, and Yuko Saitoh), the time is now for Yokomine to take advantage of her top competitions' jet lag at the AXA Ladies.
Things didn't quite work out that way today for the top-ranked player on the JLPGA, though. She made 2 birdies and a bogey on each side for a solid 70, but 28 players did as well or better than she did. Still, even with 16 players ahead of her, she's only 4 shots behind the co-leaders, Yuko Mitsuka (31-35), Ji-Hee Lee (34-32), and Hyun-Ju Shin (34-32). Only problem is, she's also behind Momoko Ueda (34-34), Shiho Oyama (32-36), Ji-Yai Shin (36-33), Chie Arimura (36-32), and Miho Koga (37-32). So here's how the top 10 and notables stand heading into the weekend:
T1/-6 Yuko Mitsuka, Ji-Hee Lee, Hyun-Ju Shin (66)
4th/-5 Toshimi Kimura (67)
T5/-4 Chie Arimura, Momoko Ueda, Shiho Oyama, Ji-Woo Lee, Hiromi Takesue (68)
T10/-3 Ji-Yai Shin, Miho Koga, Akane Iijima, Rikako Morita, Kumiko Kaneda, Yayoi Arasaki, So-Hee Kim (69)
T17/-2 Sakura Yokomine, Tamie Durdin, Rui Kitada, Riko Higashio (70)
T29/-1 Erina Hara, Akiko Fukushima, Yukari Baba, Hiromi Mogi, Nikki Campbell, Esther Lee (71)
T41/E Ayako Uehara, Eun-A Lim, Ah-Reum Hwang, Miki Saiki, Saiki Fujita, Sakurako Mori, Mai Arai, Mayu Hattori, Da-Ye Na (72)
T60/+1 Mie Nakata, Bo-Bae Song, Yun-Jye Wei (73)
T75/+2 Maiko Wakabayashi (74)
T83/+3 Shinobu Moromizato, Midori Yoneyama (75)
T90/+4 Woo-Soon Ko (76)
Moromizato, the #2-ranked player on tour and top JLPGA finisher at the WBO (T25 despite a final-round 78), will need to make a huge charge just to make the cut. Looks like you may need to be under par after Saturday's round to be playing on Sunday. Looking at tomorrow's pairings, it should be quite interesting to see how low the leaders can go and where the cut line will fall.