Na-Ri Lee fired a bogey-free 65 to take a 1-shot lead on 23-year-old Shiho Toyonaga in the 1st round of the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic, but there are some huge names hot on their trail. Last week's playoff winner Bo-Mee Lee and the LPGA's Mika Miyazato each posted 6-birdie 67s, while Sakura Yokomine came in with a bogey-free 68, Ji-Yai Shin with a 5-birdie 69, Sun-Ju Ahn with a 3-birdie 70, Rikako Morita with a 3-birdie 71, and Shanshan Feng with a 2-birdie 72. We'll see over the next 36 holes whether Lee can keep the pedal to the metal and snag her 1st JLPGA victory in her 6-year career in Japan.
2013's ongoing rivalry between Japan's young guns and the JLPGA's South Korean stars continues apace. Among those joining Feng at E were Natsuka Hori, Yuki Ichinose, Hyun-Ju Shin, and So-Hee Kim. Among those matching Morita's -1 total were Soo-Yun Kang, Erina Hara, and Maiko Wakabayashi. Kaori Ohe and Asako Fujimoto tied Ahn at -2, while Shin had good company at -3 with Ji-Hee Lee, Na-Ri Kim, Ritsuko Ryu, Megumi Kido, Erika Kikuchi, Misuzu Narita, and Lala Anai (not to mention ONnarin Sattayabanphot). Joining Yokomine in the top 10 were 20-year-old Juria Kurata and Ji-Min Lee (along with Tamie Durdin and Kaori Aoyama). And rounding out the top 5 were Ji-Woo Lee, Ah-Reum Hwang, and Asuka Tsujimura.
Mayu Hattori (75), Miki Saiki (74), Kumiko Kaneda (74), Mamiko Higa (73), Yumiko Yoshida (73), and Yuko Mitsuka (73) got off to tougher starts and will have to keep one eye on the cut line tomorrow as they try to fight their way into contention. To do so, they'll have to make like Toyonaga, who birdied 4 holes in a row on the way to posting a bogey-free 30 on the front; Durdin, who also made 4 birdies in a row on the front; Shin, Na-Ri Lee, Hwang, Yokomine, Kikuchi, Ji-Min Lee, and Pei-Lin Yu, who each got on 3-hole birdie trains; and Miyazato, who birdied 4 of her last 7 holes.
Speaking of Miyazato, I wonder if Morita and Higa were a little nervous to be playing with her; neither played up to their usual standard in the 1st round. With 35 golfers within 5 shots of the lead and only 36 holes to go, moving day will be quite telling tomorrow. Stay tuned!