After the 1st round of the JLPGA's 1st major of 2012 got washed out, Ibaraki Golf Club's West course was ripe for the taking when the Salonpas Cup started for real on Friday. Of the 23 players who broke 70 that day, Morgan Pressel and Ji-Yai Shin were the best of the best, firing matching bogey-free 65s to take a 1-shot lead on Chie Arimura and Mi-Jeong Jeon and a 2-shot lead on a large group of golfers that included Ai Miyazato, Sun-Ju Ahn, and Inbee Park. Today, Pressel extended her bogey-free run to 36 holes (and counting) and opened up a 2-shot lead on Shin and a 3-shot lead on Jeon and Ahn.
Can Pressel win here as easily as she did in 2010? Well, with leads on the likes of Shanshan Feng of 4 shots, Ji-Hee Lee and Bo-Mee Lee of 6, Miyazato, Arimura, and Park of 7, Moriya Jutanugarn of 8, and Sakura Yokomine, Yuri Fudoh, and Mika Miyazato of 9, it's not like there are all that many big-name golfers within easy striking distance of her. She certainly won't have to worry about Michelle Wie, Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, Harukyo Nomura, Bo-Bae Song, or Nikki Campbell--they all missed the cut. So it's looking like the top 5 golfers right now have the best shot of nailing down their 1st win of the new season (except for Feng, who was medallist at the LET's team event back in the 1st week of March!).
Will Pressel make it 2 out of the last 3 Salonpas Cup titles? Will Ahn make it 2 in a row? Will Shin remember where she left her Final Round Queen crown? Or will the elite veteran Jeon make a name for herself against some of the best golfers in the world? Stay tuned!