The action is heating up at the Stanley Ladies! 1st-year professional and LPGA rookie Harukyo Nomura opened with a bogey-free 30 on the front to catch 1st-round leader Chie Arimura at -9 through 27 holes, then hung on with 8 pars and a birdie on the medium-length par-4 17th to get to double digits under par. Arimura, who needed an eagle of her own on the hole she had previously gotten an albatross, stumbled a little early on the back with 2 bogeys, but birdied 3 of her last 4 holes to join Nomura at -10 and keep alive her hopes for a wire-to-wire win. Will Nomura get her 2nd JLPGA win in her 2nd start on tour as a professional? Or will Arimura hold on for her 8th JLPGA victory?
A host of very good golfers--1 veteran, some others just starting out, and most in the prime of their careers--will be trying to make both questions moot. Midori Yoneyama has collected 8 trophies since she 1st started playing on the JLPGA in 1998, but she hasn't won since 2007 and had missed the cut in her 2 previous starts before breaking 70 yesterday for only the 5th time this season. Still, she's only 3 shots behind the co-leaders. Even closer are 21-year-olds Asako Fujimoto and Rikako Morita. Fujimoto birdied 3 of her 1st 4 holes and 4 of her last 6 to post a 67 that brought her within 1 shot of the lead, while Morita bounced back from an opening double with a bogey-free 31 on the back that moved her within 2. Among the prime-time players within 5 shots of the lead, Miho Koga, who won the money-list title a few years ago but hasn't been the same player since, fired a 7-birdie 66, tied with Saiki Fujita for 2nd-low round of the day, to pull within 5. Fujita, meanwhile, is tied with Fujimoto only 1 off the lead. But the biggest name in the hunt is none other than Sakura Yokomine, who would be closer than 2 back if it weren't for a 4-hole stretch early on the back in which she made 3 bogeys. Still, just about everyone had their hiccups today: Mi-Jeong Jeon tripled the long par-4 12th to settle for a 69; Eun-A Lim struggled in the same stretch that got Arimura and Yokomine but held on to join Lim and Jeon at -5; and so did recent money-list leader Miki Saiki, who bounced back to 4 off the pace with a pair of consecutive late birdies.
So this is still anyone's tournament. Who will take charge of it tomorrow? Let's check out the list of contenders and notables:
T1/-10 Harukyo Nomura (69-65), Chie Arimura (65-69)
T3/-9 Saiki Fujita (69-66), Asako Fujimoto (68-67)
T5/-8 Sakura Yokomine (67-69), Rikako Morita (67-69)
7th/-7 Midori Yoneyama (67-70)
8th/-6 Miki Saiki (68-70)
T9/-5 Miho Koga (73-66), Ji-Hee Lee (70-69), Mi-Jeong Jeon (70-69), Eun-A Lim (69-70), Chiharu Tsunekawa (68-71)
T14/-4 Shiho Oyama (73-67), Pei-Ying Tsai (73-67), Ayako Uehara (70-70), Nikki Campbell (70-70), Mamiko Higa [a] (70-70), Young Kim (69-71), Soo-Yun Kang (67-73), Junko Omote (67-73), Miki Sakai (67-73)
T27/-3 Mayu Hattori (74-67), Shinobu Moromizato (73-68), So-Hee Kim (73-68), Kaori Aoyama (71-70), Jae-Hee Bae (71-70), Aiko Ueno (71-70), Yuki Ichinose (69-72), Li-Ying Ye (69-72), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (68-73)
T38/-2 Bo-Mee Lee (73-68), Sakura Kito [a] (72-70), Na-Ri Lee (70-72), Ji-Woo Lee (69-73), Maiko Wakabayashi (68-74)
T47/-1 Hyun-Ju Shin (74-69), Tao-Li Yang (74-69), Kumiko Kaneda (73-70), Mika Takushima (73-70), Kaori Ohe (73-70), Akane Iijima (72-71), Na-Ri Kim (72-71), Ah-Reum Hwang (72-71), Yumiko Yoshida (71-72), Bo-Bae Song (68-75)
MC: Ritsuko Ryu (69-75), Yuko Mitsuka (75-70), Tamie Durdin (74-71), Megumi Kido (72-73), Lala Anai (71-74), Miki Uehara (71-74), Mie Nakata (75-71), Megumi Takahashi [a] (72-74), Erika Kikuchi (73-73), Mai Arai (73-73), Julie Lu (75-72), Ji-Na Lim (76-72), Hiromi Mogi (74-74), Eun-Bi Jang (76-73), Erina Hara (75-74), Esther Lee (73-78), Teresa Lu (79-73), Sakurako Mori (76-76)
WD: Rui Kitada (74-WD)
I think there's a sub-65 round out there tomorrow. Wonder who will get it!