JLPGA money-list leader Rikako Morita fired a 5-birdie 68 in the 1st round of the Nobuta Group Masters GC Ladies to take a slim lead on Sun-Ju Ahn, Momoko Ueda, Ji-Hee Lee, Da-Ye Na, and Phoebe Yao at -3 and Shanshan Feng, Sakura Yokomine, Shiho Oyama, Ayako Uehara, and others at -2.
Most of the leaders poured it on as their rounds went on. Morita was -4 and bogey-free over her final 12 holes, while Lee was -5 and bogey-free over her last 10, with 4 of those birdies coming in her final 6 holes. Ueda, meanwhile, birdied 3 of her last 6 holes, and Na, Yao, and Uehara joined Morita, Ahn, and Lee in playing the back without a bogey.
Others didn't fare quite so well, but are definitely in the hunt. Yukari Baba, Bo-Bae Song, and Erina Hara are the biggest names at -1, while Yuri Fudoh, Na-Ri Lee, Yuko Mitsuka, Yumiko Yoshida, Misuzu Narita, Megumi Kido, Esther Lee, and Asako Fujimoto were among the 39 golfers to shoot par or better today in Hyogo.
Which means that some really big names will have one eye on the leaders and one eye on the cut line tomorrow. Ji-Yai Shin, Miki Saiki, Bo-Mee Lee, Teresa Lu, Mamiko Higa, Erika Kikuchi, Ritsuko Ryu, Kumiko Kaneda, and Maiko Wakabayashi are at +1, while Soo-Yun Kang, Young Kim, Harukyo Nomura, and Akane Iijima are among those who find themselves just on the wrong side of the projected cut line. Mi-Jeong Jeon, Mayu Hattori, and Shinobu Moromizato at +3, Hyun-Ju Shin at +4, So-Hee Kim at +5, and Natsuka Hori at +6 have even more players to leapfrog to be playing on the weekend.
Let's see what happens tomorrow!