Friday, March 21, 2014

T-Point Ladies Friday: Mami Fukuda and Yukari Nishiyama Jump Out to Lead

21-year-old Mami Fukuda and 31-year-old Yukari Nishiyama fired 5-under-par 67s in the 1st round of the T-Point Ladies to jump out to a 1-shot lead on Da-Ye Na and a 2-shot lead on Rikako Morita, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, and Hiroko Fukushima.  Fukuda birdied 4 of 5 holes in the middle of her round and followed it up with a 3-hole birdie train midway through the back 9, while Nishiyama closed with 4 birdies in her last 10 holes.

They're chased by a mix of youngsters and veterans that includes Bo-Mee Lee and Erina Hara at -2, Ji-Yai Shin, Yukari Baba, and Miki Sakai at -1, Sakura Yokomine, Sun-Ju Ahn, Miki Saiki, Yuki Ichinose, Ritsuko Ryu, Saiki Fujita, and Erina Yamato at E, and Ji-Hee Lee, Mamiko Higa, Kumiko Kaneda, Erika Kikuchi, Mayu Hattori, Asako Fujimoto, and Junko Omote at +1.  Further behind are Shiho Oyama, Shinobu Moromizato, Misuzu Narita, Maiko Wakabayashi, and Kaori Ohe at +2, Yumiko Yoshida, Yuko Mitsuka, and Ayaka Watanabe at +3, Na-Ri Kim at +4, Bo-Bae Song, Phoebe Yao, and Lala Anai at +5, Hyun-Ju Shin and Megumi Kido at +6, and Natsuka Hori at +10.  Not such a fantastic showing for the under-22s I highlighted a few days ago, but that's golf.

Just to give you a taste of how diverse this leaderboard is, Eriko Tanikawa shot her 1st under-par round on the JLPGA in 3 seasons of trying to make it onto the big tour.  The 25-year-old has never made a JLPGA cut in her career, so tomorrow is a big day for her.  At the other end of the spectrum, Ji-Yai Shin, who matched Tanikawa's opening 71, is a former world #1.  She's also 25, but if she doesn't win this week, her chances of making Team Korea for the LPGA's International Crown go down the drain.  Guess who else is 25?  Last week's winner, Yuki Ichinose, who's also the defending champion this week.  Same age, 3 different career trajectories.  The leaders range from 8th-year pro Hiroko Fukushima, who's 36, to 2nd-year pro Rie Tsuji (E), who's 20, to amateur Kana Nagai (+1), who graduates from high school in 2015.

Let's see who makes a big move tomorrow!

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