Friday, July 4, 2014

Nichi-Iko Ladies Friday: Sakura Yokomine and Maiko Wakabayashi Fire 65s to Take Lead

Defending champion Young Kim birdied 5 of her 1st 7 holes to jump out to an early lead in the Nichi-Iko Ladies, but finished bogey-double-par to open the door to a host of players.  Leading the charge was Sakura Yokomine, who shot a bogey-free 65, and Maiko Wakabayashi, whose 31 on the back lifted her into a tie for the lead with the player who looks like she's peaking at just the right time for Team Japan in the LPGA's International Crown.  Meanwhile, KLPGA transplant Yeon-Ju Jung fired her best round as a JLPGA member, a 7-birdie 66 that left her tied with 6-time winner Akane Iijima 1 shot behind the co-leaders.  Ritsuko Ryu, 20-year-old Rie Tsuji, and 22-in-2-days Natsuka Hori all made it into the mid-60s, as well, shooting 67s with 1, 2, and 0 bogeys, respectively.

With many big-name players taking the week off to prepare for the Women's British Open, you have to look lower on the leader board to find the remaining well-known players:  Teresa Lu shot a 70, Bo-Mee Lee a 71, Yumiko Yoshida a 72, and Yuko Mitsuka withdrew.  That leaves former top players like Bo-Bae Song (70), Shinobu Moromizato (72), and Hyun-Ju Shin (72) amid a sea of players like Wakabayashi, who have shown glimpses of greatness but haven't sustained it:  Na-Ri Lee, Miki Sakai, and Lala Anai at -3, Junko Omoto, Hiromi Mogi, and Kaori Ohe at -2, Na-Ri Kim, Mayu Hattori, and Yukari Baba at -1, Saiki Fujita and Erika Kikuchi at E, Esther Lee at +1, Rui Kitada, Ji-Woo Lee, and Kumiko Kaneda at +2, Yun-Jye Wei and Yuki Sakurai at +3, and Kaori Aoyama at +6.

So Yokomine has a great opportunity to make a big statement on the eve of the Women's British Open.  Let's see how she does on the weekend!

5 comments:

RevesbyReg said...

Hi, I've just noticed that Rikako Morita has been replaced by Mamiko Higa in Japan's International Crown team. Any ideas why? I was so looking forward to seeing Morita.

The Constructivist said...

No idea why--I hadn't even heard! Will look into it. Thanks!

The Constructivist said...

All LPGA.com mentioned was a "scheduling conflict" for Morita. It's not like she needs to defend a JLPGA title in July, so I have no idea what that means or whether it's a code for something else. I was surprised to read that Shiho Oyama turned down the spot. Nice thing about Higa playing is that she's the 3rd Okinawan player on the team. But she's not having a good 2014....

RevesbyReg said...

Ok thanks for that. Too bad Morita isn't playing cos I really love her smooth swing & was looking forward to seeing her on the big stage. Never mind

Anonymous said...

Basically there is a new event on the schedule Century 21 Ladies and of course the JLPGA would want last year's #1 playing... They would never allow Morita & Yokomine to miss a new event.