With Mi-Jeong Jeon leading the KLPGA's 3rd major, the Hite Cup, ex-KLPGA star Sun-Ju Ahn, who had come back from a 4-stroke deficit to Jeon in the final round of the Sankyo Ladies last Sunday, had a great chance to extend her 40 million yen lead on Jeon in the JLPGA money list. So what does she do in the 1st round of the Fujitsu Ladies today but take the lead with a 9-birdie 65?
Unlike Brittany Lincicome, whose 11-birdie performance yesterday on the LPGA gave her a 4-shot lead on her nearest competitor, Ahn is pursued by a host of amazing golfers. 6 of the 7 players within 2 shots of her played bogey-free golf, including Chie Arimura, Bo-Bae Song, Ayako Uehara, Rui Kitada, and amateur Harukyo Nomura (who'll be competing for an LPGA card this December in Daytona Beach), and the 7th, Young Kim, is a former LPGA standout who opened with a 6-birdie 67. Only 4 back are none other than Sakura Yokomine and Ji-Yai Shin. Yokomine was last year's money-list leader and the 1st player in JLPGA history to break the 175 million yen barrier in a single season; there's no doubt she'd love to repeat this year and deny Ahn's bid to break her record. Shin, meanwhile, came up in the KLPGA right around the same time as Ahn and they were the top 2 players on tour for quite some time. A win for Shin this week could vault her to #1 in the Rolex Rankings, so she has extra motivation to reestablish her dominance over Ahn.
Let's see who among the leaders and notables make a charge at Ahn this weekend:
1st/-7 Sun-Ju Ahn (65)
T2/-6 Chie Arimura, Bo-Bae Song (66)
T4/-5 Rui Kitada, Young Kim, Ayako Uehara, Kaori Yamamoto, Harukyo Nomura [a] (67)
T9/-4 Hiromi Mogi, Li-Ying Ye, Yuko Shinsakaue, Serena Aoki [a], Megumi Takahashi [a] (68)
T14/-3 Ji-Yai Shin, Sakura Yokomine, Na-Ri Kim, Ritsuko Ryu, Yuki Ichinose, Jae-Hee Bae (69)
T21/-2 Shinobu Moromizato, Nikki Campbell, Saiki Fujita, Asako Fujimoto, Mayu Hattori (70)
T29/-1 Ji-Hee Lee, Akiko Fukushima, Yukari Baba, Maiko Wakabayashi, Ah-Reum Hwang, Onnarin Sattayabanphot (71)
T40/E Yuri Fudoh, Akane Iijima, Shiho Oyama, Hyun-Ju Shin, Miki Saiki, So-Hee Kim, Esther Lee (72)
T56/+1 Yuko Mitsuka, Tamie Durdin, Na-Ri Lee, Yun-Jye Wei (73)
T72/+2 Ji-Woo Lee, Hiromi Takesue, Erina Hara (74)
T77/+3 Mie Nakata (75)
T85/+4 Kaori Aoyama (76)
T88/+5 Rikako Morita (77)
I'm rooting for Oyama, Mitsuka, Durdin, and Hara to make the cut!
[Update 1 (1:29 pm): Scoring conditions were brutal over in Korea today; the JLPGA's Jeon ballooned to an 82 and dropped all the way to T30. The LPGA's Song-Hee Kim and Sun Young Yoo held it together and are right in the thick of things at the halfway point!]