The LPGA of Japan Tour is open to players from around the world. They have welcomed and celebrated golfers from Australia, South Korea, China, the United States of America and many other countries. However, like any other tour, the Japanese spectators like to see their countrywomen win. Unlike the LPGA tour in America, the JLPGA hasn’t yet become familiar with long stretches without a win from a hometown lady. Until now. It’s been 7 non-Japanese winners since Chie Arimura won the 2012 Cyber Agent Ladies. Not only that, it’s 7 different players; Sun-Ju Ahn, Inbee Park, Ji-Hee Lee, Shanshan Feng, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Hyun-Ju Shin and spectacular amateur Hyo-Joo Kim. 6 of those 7 players are from South Korea, with Shanshan Feng hailing from China.
After the 2nd round of the Earth Mondamin Cup 2012, arguably the two most popular full-time Japanese players on the JLPGA are in contention to win. Sakura Yokomine fired a bogey-free 6-under 66 to tie Mayu Hattori and 2-time defending JLPGA Player of the Year Sun-Ju Ahn for the lead at 11-under. 1 shot back at 10-under is Chie Ariumura. After ending her 1st round with an eagle, Chie remained hot, matching Yokomine’s bogey-free 6-under 66. For me, it doesn’t matter if they are Japanese or not, but I do understand the crowds pulling for their own, just as I understand LPGA fans in America wanting to see Americans win. However, for me, Sakura is my favorite JLPGA regardless of nationality so I just pull for her all the time. Chie is probably my 2nd favorite, so I’d love to see either of them win. But there are 18 holes to go and birdies are dropping all over the place. Hsuan-Yu Yao of Taiwan, for example, fired a 2nd round 8-under 64. So there’s no telling how the leaderboard might look after the 3rd round.
Leaderboard with 3rd round tee-times