Tomorrow's final round of the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open is a microcosm of the 2013 JLPGA season. Whereas in the recent past Korean golfers were either dominating the tour (Sun-Ju Ahn) or regularly in the running (Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ji-Hee Lee, Bo-Mee Lee, Inbee Park), this year has been characterized by a clash between older and younger generations of Japanese golfers.
Through 2 rounds in Aichi, 23-year-old Rikako Morita (67-67, -10) leads Shiho Oyama, who turns 36 today, by 2 shots, with only 1 other player, 23-year-old Shiho Toyonaga, within 5 shots of the lead. Oyama gave herself quite the birthday present today by birdieing her last 3 holes in a row and 4 of her last 6 holes, making up for a slow start that saw her fall 4 shots behind Morita in the 1st 8 holes. Whether Morita will get her 2nd win of the season and 4th of her career or Oyama will make her 13th career victory her 1st in 2 seasons is a great story.
But the generation gaps go lower down the leaderboard as well. Natsuka Hori (-4), Miki Sakai (-3), and Da-Ye Na (-3) are representing the youngsters, while Sakura Yokomine (-3), Momoko Ueda (-3), Miki Saiki (-3), and Mihoko Iseri (-3), not to mention Mi-Jeong Jeon (-3) and Ji-Hee Lee (-2), have all achieved veteran status. At -1, Harukyo Nomura takes on Yuri Fudoh, Yuko Mitsuka (who got to -6 early in her round but couldn't keep it going), Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, and Na-Ri Kim.
Can't wait to see who prevails and whether generation rather than nation will continue to be the major fault line on the JLPGA.