Thursday, October 1, 2009

Japan Women's Open Thursday: Surprises at the Top

The 1st round of the biggest women's tournament in Japan, the Japan Women's Open, has ended with many surprises. Mayumi Shimomura, currently lounging at #68 on the JLPGA money list, leads the tournament after firing a bogey-free 66.

Meanwhile, the world's hottest female golfer, Ai Miyazato, who's averaging close to 4 birdies per round on the LPGA, could only manage 2 today and struggled to a 73 (T40), as did 3-time JLPGA winner in '09 Mi-Jeong Jeon and LPGA Q-School-bound Yuko Mitsuka. The hottest golfers on the JLPGA didn't fare much better: money-list leader and 5-time winner this season Shinobu Moromizato started off the 3rd stage of her Grand Slam quest with a tepid 72 (T27); 4-time winner in '09 Chie Arimura blew up to a 75 (T74); LPGA Super Soph Momoko Ueda fell back to a 71 (T19); and #6 on the money list Ji-Hee Lee recovered to match Ueda.

In fact, the only name players to make the top 10 were LPGA rookie Mika Miyazato (who fired a surprising 67, given her struggles of late in the States), #2 on the career money list Akiko Fukushima (who shot a 68 despite doubling the 9th), 4-time winner in '09 Sakura Yokomine (who shot a bogey-free 70), last year's money list leader Miho Koga (who fell back to a 70 after a fast start), billion-yen woman Yuri Fudoh (who also shot a 70), and U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji (another 70, this one with 5 birdies).

To be fair, there are others in the top 10 who have had great runs at different times on the JLPGA, but who haven't shown the consistency of the truly elite players. So it'll be interesting to see how Yukari Baba (67, T2), Eun-A Lim (68, T4, after eagling the par-5 15th), Tamie Durdin (bogey-free 68, T4, following up on her success in the California sectional qualifier for LPGA Q-School), Bo-Bae Song (bogey-free 69, 8th), and Ayako Uehara (70 with a double and a bogey, T9) hold up under major pressure.

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