Sun-Ju Ahn, Chie Arimura, and Tamie Durdin fired the low rounds of the day Friday at the JLPGA's 1st major of 2011, the Salonpas Cup, although they took different paths to their sizzling 67s. For Ahn, last year's money-list title-holder on tour, it was back-to-back birdies both early and late in a bogey-free round that gave her a share of the lead with Momoko Ueda (on whom more in a moment) at -6. For Arimura, who played in the group ahead of Ahn with Morgan Pressel (on whom more shortly), all her birdies came in her 1st 12 holes, but she, too, played bogey-free golf to stay within 4 of Ahn and Ueda's lead. For Durdin, who ended up in the same place as Arimura and 1st-round leader Yuri Fudoh (on whom...) after 36 holes, the road was a little rockier: after starting hot 2 groups behind Ahn with 2 birdies and and eagle in her 1st 6 holes and keeping it going with a birdie on the 10th, she ended her bogey-free run on the par-5 12th, but bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 17th.
Between Ahn and Ueda on the one hand and Arimura, Durdin, and Fudoh on the other are only a handful of young talents. 23-year-old Teresa Lu, who played so badly on the JLPGA last season that she didn't even earn full status for this year at their end-of-season Q-School, got to -5 on the strength of 5 birdies and 2 bogeys. 23-year-old Mayu Hattori shot her 2nd-straight 70 to stay alone only 1 shot further off the lead. 22-year-old Bo-Mee Lee showed why she was a KLPGA top gun last season with her 2nd-straight sub-par round to join 21-year-old Megumi Kido at -3.
So how about that other co-leader, Momoko Ueda? The former JLPGA money-list title-holder has been steady but not spectacular on the LPGA since joining in 2008, yet has struggled over the past year or more with a nagging knee injury and generally indifferent play. April was feast or famine for her, with 2 missed JLPGA cuts preceding her best result in months at last week's Cyber Agent Ladies, where she moved into the top 10 with a final-round 69. Today she made 5 birdies and had only 1 hiccup--a bogey on the long par-3 15th. Not bad!
Meanwhile, defending champion Morgan Pressel, who started the day 2 shots ahead of playing partner Arimura, started the day hot with a bogey-free 32 but ended it cold with a birdie-less 38. Still, she's only 5 shots back with 36 holes left to play. Fudoh's in even better position, even after making 2 bogeys and no birdies in her 1st 8 holes, thanks to her 3 birdies (and no thanks to her 2 other bogeys) over her last 10.
So here's how the leaders and notables stand heading into the weekend:
T1/-6 Sun-Ju Ahn (71-67), Momoko Ueda (70-68)
3rd/-5 Teresa Lu (70-69)
4th/-4 Mayu Hattori (70-70)
T5/-3 Megumi Kido (72-69), Bo-Mee Lee (70-71)
T7/-2 Chie Arimura (75-67), Tamie Durdin (75-67), Yuri Fudoh (69-73)
T10/-1 Na-Ri Lee (75-68), Morgan Pressel (73-70), Meena Lee (73-70), Yuki Ichinose (73-70), Miki Saiki (71-72), Hee Young Park (70-73)
T16/E Ji-Hee Lee (75-69), Inbee Park (74-70), Lala Anai (74-70), Yuko Mitsuka (73-71), Nikki Campbell (71-73)
T22/+1 Shiho Oyama (75-70), Na-Ri Kim (75-70), Ji-Na Lim (75-70), Akiko Fukushima (73-72), Rui Kitada (73-72), Ji-Woo Lee (72-73), Yumiko Yoshida (71-74)
T31/+2 Hyun-Ju Shin (75-71), Mika Miyazato (72-74), So-Hee Kim (72-74)
T34/+3 Ai Miyazato (76-71), Hiromi Mogi (76-71), Rikako Morita (76-71), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (76-71), Mie Nakata (75-72), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-72), Kaori Aoyama (75-72), Miki Sakai (75-72), Sakura Yokomine (74-73), Mika Takushima (74-73), Julie Lu (73-74), Li-Ying Ye (72-75)
T48/+4 Na Yeon Choi (77-71), Saiki Fujita (77-71), Shinobu Moromizato (76-72), He-Yong Choi (76-72), Soo-Yun Kang (76-72), Esther Lee (75-73), Tao-Li Yang (73-75), Ayako Uehara (72-76)
MC: Mi-Jeong Jeon (78-71), Yukari Baba (77-72), Asako Fujimoto (77-72), Miho Koga (76-73), Kaori Ohe (76-73), Kumiko Kaneda (75-74), Akane Iijima (75-75), Erina Hara (73-76), Bo-Bae Song (74-76), Ritsuko Ryu (74-76), Ah-Reum Hwang (78-73), Lee-Anne Pace (79-73), Yun-Jye Wei (77-74), Miki Uehara (77-74), Pei-Ying Tsai (79-74), Erika Kikuchi (78-75), Yuki Sakurai (76-78)
Nice to see lots of LPGAers and others who struggled yesterday bounce back to make the cut, but sad to see so many JLPGA stars just miss it. It'll be interesting to see if the leaders can keep the pedal to the metal on moving day or whether they'll open the door to charges from behind like the ones they made today!