Sakura Yokomine made 5 birdies in her 1st 10 holes and 4 in her last 5 to post a bogey-free 63, move to -11, and open up a commanding lead on a star-studded field after 36 holes of the Nobuta Group Masters GC Ladies. The 2009 JLPGA money-list leader has been overshadowed in recent seasons by the South Korean renaissance led by Sun-Ju Ahn and Mi-Jeong Jeon, and for most of this season has been well behind Rikako Morita and the other Japanese young guns on tour who are having breakout years, but today she could do no wrong.
With a 5-shot lead on Ahn, Shanshan Feng, and Phoebe Yao, a 6-shot lead on Momoko Ueda and Shiho Oyama, and a 7-shot lead on Morita and Miki Sakai, Yokomine is not only poised to win for the 3rd time in 2013, but is also ready to make a big statement heading into the tour's home stretch. What makes her 1st 2 rounds even more impressive is that Jeon (#9 on the money list) and Ji-Yai Shin missed the cut, as did #3 Miki Saiki, #5 Natsuka Hori, #6 Mamiko Higa, #12 Ritsuko Ryu, #14 Erika Kikuchi, and recent 2-time winner and #10 Na-Ri Lee. Moreover, Yokomine's 8-up on #11 Bo-Mee Lee, 9-up on LPGA Rookie of the Year candidate Ayako Uehara, 11-up on #4 Yumiko Yoshida, and 12-up on #8 Teresa Lu. Her 63 is the lowest score on the JLPGA since Junko Omote matched it in the 1st round of the Samantha Thavasa Ladies back in July and only the 3rd sub-65 round since (Esther Lee and Yuki Ichinose put together 64s).
It's always tough to back up a great round, but if Yokomine can do it tomorrow, she'll have made the end of 2013 a heck of a lot more interesting on the JLPGA!