2013 was an exciting season on the JLPGA, but many of last year's top players are struggling in 2014. Miki Saiki (#70 on the money list this season after finishing #6 last one), Kumiko Kaneda (#54 after finishing #24), Shiho Oyama (#42 after #9), and Sakura Yokomine (#35 after #2) are the most egregious examples, but Teresa Lu (fallen from #3 to #21), Yumiko Yoshida (#5 to #19), Mi-Jeong Jeon (#12 to #22), Mamiko Higa (#8 to #15), and even Rikako Morita (#1 to #7) are finding it hard to sustain the level of excellence we've grown accustomed to from them. Heck, even returnees Momoko Ueda (#80) and Ji-Yai Shin (#12) haven't seen the results they've wanted thus far this season. Yes, the year is young, but for International Crown Team Japan members Yokomine and Morita in particular, the pressure is on.
Enter the year's 1st major on tour, the Salonpas Cup, with Shanshan Feng returning to JLPGA action, and visiting pros Anna Nordqvist, Ha Na Jang, Ai Miyazato, and Mika Miyazato (the latter 2 are the top 2 on the 4-player team but are having even tougher 2014s than their teammates) as well as standout amateurs Minjee Lee, Minami Katsu, Haruka Morita, and Yumi Matsubara looking to test themselves against the JLPGA's finest.
And just who are those players? So far, Bo-Mee Lee, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Yuki Ichinose, Ayaka Watanabe, and Sun-Ju Ahn hold the top 5 spots on the money list, with Ichinose becoming the 1st player to win twice on tour this season just last week. It'll be interesting to see how they and the rest of the lesser-known players rising to the top in 2014 do when paired with the big names in the 1st round on the 10th tee:
11:15 am: Minjee Lee, Ritsuko Ryu, Esther Lee
11:24 am: Yumi Matsubara, Yukari Baba, Miki Sakai
11:33 am: Haruka Morita, Natsuka Hori, Mi-Jeong Jeon
11:42 am: Mamiko Higa, Ayaka Watanabe, Sun-Ju Ahn
11:51 am: Erina Hara, Shiho Oyama, Onnarin Sattayabanphot
12:00 pm: Yuki Ichinose, Bo-Mee Lee, Shanshan Feng
12:09 pm: Minami Katsu, Rikako Morita, Ai Miyazato
12:18 pm: Sakura Yokomine, Anna Nordqvist, Mika Miyazato
12:27 pm: Ji-Yai Shin, Yuri Fudoh, Ha Na Jang
12:36 pm: Yumiko Yoshida, Miki Saiki, Phoebe Yao
So everyone has something to prove coming into this week. Let's see who's ready to do it!