Thursday, September 29, 2011

Japan Women's Open Thursday: Defending Champion Mika Miyazato Co-Leader at Even Par

Mika Miyazato loves the Japan Women's Open.  She bounced back from a heartbreaking Sunday breakdown in 2009 with a runaway wire-to-wire win in 2010.  And after today's 70, in which she mixed and matched 4 birdies with 4 bogeys, she's in perfect position to defend her title.  That's not to say it's going to be easy.  She's tied at E with Ji-Hee Lee, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Teresa Lu, and Kumiko Kaneda.  She's only 1-up on Chie Arimura, Na-Ri Kim, Young Kim, and Saiki Fujita.  Sun-Ju Ahn, Ai Miyazato, Eun-Hee Ji, Akiko Fukushima, Harukyo Nomura, and Ayako Uehara are among those only 2 behind.  Yuri Fudoh, Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, and Mayu Hattori lead the chase pack from 3 back.  Heck, even though Momoko Ueda and Shanshan Feng opened with 75s and Sakura Yokomine and Bo-Bae Song with 76s, they're by no means out of this 72-hole tournament.

Here's how the leaders and notables stand at the end of the 1st round of the most important tournament of the year for women golfers in Japan:

T1/E Mika Miyazato, Ji-Hee Lee, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Teresa Lu, Kumiko Kaneda (70)
T6/+1 Chie Arimura, Na-Ri Kim, Young Kim, Saiki Fujita (71)
T10/+2 Sun-Ju Ahn, Ai Miyazato, Eun-Hee Ji, Akiko Fukushima, Harukyo Nomura, Ayako Uehara, Erika Kikuchi, Yui Kawahara (72)

T18/+3 Yuri Fudoh, Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, Mayu Hattori, Eun-A Lim, Na-Ri Lee, Ah-Reum Hwang, Mamiko Higa [a] (73)
T27/+4 Rikako Morita, Ritsuko Ryu, Yuki Ichinose, Yun-Jye Wei, Miki Uehara, Chihiro Ikeda [a] (74)
T35/+5 Shanshan Feng, Momoko Ueda, Bo-Mee Lee, Rui Kitada, Asako Fujimoto, Ji-Woo Lee, Hinako Yamauchi [a], Haruka Morita [a] (75)
T47/+6 Sakura Yokomine, Bo-Bae Song, Tamie Durdin, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Eun-Bi Jang, Sakura Kito [a] (76)
T59/+7 Shinobu Moromizato, Hyun-Ju Shin, Li-Ying Ye, Kaori Aoyama, Megumi Kido (77)
T68/+8 Junko Omote (78)
T71/+9 Yuko Mitsuka, Rui Yokomine, Tao-Li Yang (79)
T83/+10 Soo-Yun Kang, Woo-Soon Ko (80)
T90/+11 Kaori Ohe, Maria Iida (81)
T94/+12 Miki Saiki, Sakurako Mori (82)
T99/+13 Maiko Wakabayashi (83)
WD Hiromi Mogi

If these scores don't convey how difficult Ohtone Country Club's East course is playing, consider that nobody could put together a bogey-free round, there were about as many double bogeys as birdies from the field, and Ai Miyazato made more bogeys (7) than pars (6) or birdies (5).  The usual crop of teenyboppers who are invited to play in this event did fairly well for themselves today; I'll have more on any of them who rise higher on the leaderboard in later rounds.  For now, the most interesting story to me is whether Mikan can shrug off her poor performance last Sunday when she had a chance to win and keep grinding away against a top-notch field.

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