2nd-round leader Mika Miyazato had better watch it today in the Japan Women's Open. There are low numbers to be had out there and some of the biggest names in Japanese women's golf are shooting them.
Some JLPGA young guns who have been shooting blanks for most of the season are showing the way to do it. Yuki Ichinose made 7 birdies on her way to a 66 that brought her to -2 overall, while Sakurako Mori had a 6-birdie 69. Not to be outdone, Akane Iijima also made 6 birdies but fired a 68.
So it should come as no surprise that we're seeing early charges from Miho Koga (bogey-free 33 on the front to get to -3), Ai Miyazato (birdies on 7, 9, and 10 to join her), Momoko Ueda (who shot a bogey-free 33 of her own on the front to get to -4 overall), and Shinobu Moromizato (who briefly got to -5 overall after her 3rd birdie in her 1st 7 holes, but just bogeyed the 8th). Meanwhile, it's been feast and famine for the player everyone's chasing, Mika Miyazato, who's started her round birdie-bogey-birdie-birdie-bogey. She has a 3-shot lead on Akiko Fukushima right now.
But it's bed time for me. Look for an early morning update!
[Update 1 (12:40 am): OK, one more update, but not on scores. If you check out the 3rd-round pairings page, you can find out where most of the golfers in the field are from. Kyushu, the island I did my Fulbright on, is well-represented, what with Kagoshima's own Sakura Yokomine, Fukuoka natives Yukari Baba and Rui Kitada, and more Kumamoto girls than any other region in Japan, including Yuri Fudoh, Momoko Ueda, Miho Koga, Chie Arimura, and Yuki Ichinose. Never knew that Ayako Uehara was Okinawan, though, just like Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, and Shinobu Moromizato. I'm sure this is all common knowledge in Japan, but it's news to me. Kyushu and Okinawa are like the Florida and California of American women's golf, it seems.]
[Update 2 (7:25 am): Mika-chan extended her lead to 4 over Akiko Fukushima and Bo-Bae Song today, even though she didn't make a par on the front (5 birdies, 4 bogeys) and suffered a walkoff bogey. At -11 overall, she has a commanding lead on the golfers who made big moves today, from Saiki Fujita (68, -5, 4th) and the huge crew at -4 that includes Ai Miyazato (68), Miho Koga (68), Momoko Ueda (69), Shinobu Moromizato (70), Miki Saiki (70) (along with Yuri Fudoh and Yukari Baba, who both settled for 72, and Sakura Yokomine, who shot an uncharacteristic 74) to Mi-Jeong Jeon (68, -3, T14), Ayako Uehara (70, -2, T16), and Ji-Woo Lee and Hiromi Mogi (69, -1, T18). So the cream of the JLPGA definitely rose on moving day, but not fast enough to not need a lot of help from the LPGA rookie on the verge of winning her 1st major championship. A win for Mikan would ratify her untraditional decision to head straight for the LPGA as a new pro, rather than work her way up the ranks on the JLPGA for several years or longer. I'll be rooting for her tomorrow! Gambare, Mika-chan!]