Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 JLPGA Season Kicks Off in Okinawa This Friday

There's even more reason than usual to check in on the JLPGA in March.  Not only does their 2014 season kick off this Friday in Okinawa with the Daikin Orchid Ladies.  Not only does 2013 money-list title-holder Rikako Morita defend her title this week.  Not only do Ji-Yai Shin and Momoko Ueda return to the JLPGA as full-fledged members.  Not only are Mika Miyazato and Ayako Uehara playing on their home island.  Not only are Player of the Year Sakura Yokomine and Shiho Oyama looking to pick up where they left off at the end of last season.  Not only are Sun-Ju Ahn and Bo-Mee Lee looking to do even better this season than last.  Not only are Miki Saiki and Yumiko Yoshida looking to establish themselves as legitimate POY contenders.   Not only are Mi-Jeong Jeon and Ji-Hee Lee looking to bounce back from a tough year.  Not only are Teresa Lu and Rookie of the Year Mamiko Higa looking to prove that last season wasn't a fluke.

That's not all.  This is the month that determines who will make each of the 8 teams in the LPGA's International Crown this year.  Few of these races are as closely contested as the race to join Team Japan.  And there will be 4 JLPGA events played before the top 4 for each team will be named on Monday, March 31, 2014, at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Here are the top-ranked Japanese golfers in the Rolex Rankings at the start of this month:

#25 Mika Miyazato (3.01)
#28 Ai Miyazato (2.77)
#37 Sakura Yokomine (2.33)
#42 Rikako Morita (2.22)


#48 Shiho Oyama (2.01)
#49 Miki Saiki (2.01)
#51 Mamiko Higa (1.97)
#53 Yumiko Yoshida (1.85)
#76 Chie Arimura (1.30)

#80 Yuki Ichinose (1.19)
#87 Ritsuko Ryu (1.12)
#90 Ayako Uehara (1.11)
#94 Yuri Fudoh (1.06)

#99 Asako Fujimoto (1.01)
#101 Natsuka Hori (1.01)
#102 Yukari Baba (.99)
#104 Junko Omote (.97)
#105 Mayu Hattori (.97)
#107 Hiromi Mogi (.96)
#110 Misuzu Narita (.92)

With so many players so closely bunched, anything can happen this month.  And with everyone on this list except for Ai Miyazato and Chie Arimura playing in Okinawa this week, every shot will count even more than usual.

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