The JLPGA's 2011 season kicks off this week with the Daikin Orchid Ladies. Virtually all of the JLPGA's Finest from last season (minus only Miho Koga) will square off in Okinawa, and they'll be joined by the top players from Q-School. Of particular note are defending champion and 2010 Player of the Year Sun Ju Ahn, Chie Arimura, who almost stood up to a Sunday charge from Hall of Famer Karrie Webb at the HSBC Women's Champions on the LPGA, and Sakura Yokomine, who won the Yumeya Championship on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour last Saturday in her 2nd start of the season (she had a disappointing top 10 on the TLPGA in January).
Speaking of early-season disappointments, most of the players with dual membership on the LPGA and JLPGA in the field this week are looking to bounce back from worse-than-hoped-for play on the LET and LPGA last month. We're talking:
Hee Young Park
In addition, former LPGAers--
as well as top-rank former KLPGAers--
He Yong Choi
--are looking to make some noise in their (for some, new) home tour's debut.
For some reason, the JLPGA no longer links to player profiles from their field list, but they make up for that by providing those links to their 1st-round pairings sheet. Here are some of the most interesting groups teeing off from the 1st tee on March 4th:
10:09 am: Sakura Yokomine, Mika Miyazato, Haruka Yamaguchi [19-year-old amateur]
10:27 am: Ai Miyazato, Shinobu Moromizato, Miki Yonaha [18-year-old amateur]
10:18 am: Momoko Ueda, Chie Arimura, Nozomi Kohagura [15-year-old amateur]
10:36 am: Ji-Yai Shin, Bo-Mee Lee, Rikako Morita
9:42 am: Yuri Fudoh, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Inbee Park
10:00 am: Sun Ju Ahn, Saiki Fujita, Masayo Yonamine [20-year-old amateur]
9:33 am: Akiko Fukushima, Mayu Hattori, Shanshan Feng
9:15 am: Miki Saiki, Asako Fujimoto, Hee Young Park
9:06 am: Akane Iijima, Rui Kitada, Meena Lee
9:24 am: Ji-Hee Lee, Yuko Mitsuka, Hiromi Mogi
9:51 am: Yukari Baba, Ayako Uehara, Hina Arakaki [12-year-old amateur]
10:54 am: Ai-Yu Tu, Nobuko Kizawa, Bo-Bae Song
Among those buried on the back are Shiho Oyama (10:27 am), He Yong Choi (11:03 am), Teresa Lu (9:33 am), Soo-Yun Kang (10:54 am), Tamie Durdin (10:36 am), Erina Hara (10:18 am), Maiko Wakabayashi (10:00 am), Ritsuko Ryu (10:09 am), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (8:57 am), and Yuki Ichinose (9:42 am).
I can't wait for this to start!
[Update 1 (12:24 am): OK, bangkokbobby has great footage from Taiwanese tv on Ya Ni Tseng's hero's welcome in an airport at home, so it's time to bust out the Japanese tv footage. Oh, wait, I can't find anything. Jeez!]
[Update 2 (3/6/11, 9:42 am): Just came across this nice, if Okinawa-centric, preview!]