Friday, April 16, 2010

Nishijin Ladies Classic Friday: Ueda Tops Star-Studded Leaderboard

An eagle on the par-4 15th propelled hometown favorite Momoko Ueda into the 1st-round lead at the Nishijin Ladies Classic today in Kumamoto, Japan. But lurking right behind her are some of the best players in the world. Ji-Yai Shin doubled the 2nd hole but closed with a 31 to pull within 1 of Ueda. Seon Hwa Lee bogeyed her 1st hole but played her next 17 holes of bogey-free golf at 4-under to get within 2 of the lead, where she was joined by Inbee Park and Sakura Yokomine, who birdied 4 and 5 of their last 11 holes, respectively. Yuri Fudoh continued the trend of strong finishes with 3 birdies in her last 10 holes to remain 3 off the pace, while Sun-Ju Ahn birdied two of her last 3 holes to join her; only Hyun-Ju Shin bucked the trend by starting with birdies on 3 of her 1st 4 holes and falling off the pace with a 37 on the back, the worst score among the top 24 players in the field on that side. Meanwhile, Chie Arimura roared back from a bad start with 3 straight birdies to close out her round and stay within 4 of Ueda.

Here's how the top 10 and notables stand as they head into the weekend:

1st/-5 Momoko Ueda (67)
T2/-4 Ji-Yai Shin, Chieko Amanuma (68)
T4/-3 Sakura Yokomine, Inbee Park, Seon Hwa Lee, Mie Nakata, Saiki Fujita, Midori Yoneyama, Asako Fujimoto (69)

T11/-2 Yuri Fudoh, Sun-Ju Ahn, Hyun-Ju Shin, Mayu Hattori (70)
T16/-1 Chie Arimura, So-Hee Kim, Na-Ri Lee (71)
T23/E Young Kim, Rui Kitada, Yukari Baba, Miki Saiki, Jae-Hee Bae (72)
T36/+1 Teresa Lu, Mika Miyazato, Ji-Hee Lee, Hiromi Mogi, Yuki Sakurai (73)
T49/+2 Yuko Mitsuka, Eun-A Lim, Tamie Durdin, Esther Lee, Yuki Ichinose (74)
T66/+3 Akiko Fukushima, Miho Koga, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Bo-Bae Song, Ritsuko Ryu, Li-Ying Ye (75)
T82/+4 Akane Iijima, Maiko Wakabayashi (76)
T91/+5 Erina Hara (77)
T98/+6 Ji-Woo Lee, Rikako Morita (78)
T104/+7 Na-Ri Kim (79)

Some big-name players will have to have good moving days just to make the cut. Among those in the middle, I'm most curious to see how Mika Miyazato does this week. So far, she's started her pro career exclusively on the LPGA, eschewing dual LPGA-JLPGA membership, but I wonder if she's rethinking that decision, given the gaps in the LPGA's schedule this year.

[Update 1 (3:41 am): Gotta admit, Beth Ann Baldry's Mojo 6 day 1 round-up makes me want to watch the event when it's televised on CBS on May 1st and 2nd.]

[Update 2 (3:45 am): Nice 1st win for Bo Bae Kim on the KLPGA. Final-round 67 and a pair of birdies in the 2-hole playoff is not too shabby.]

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