Home hope Akane Iijima shared the lead with Taiwan’s Teresa Lu and Hwang Ah-reum of South Korea after the first round of the LPGA Tour’s Mizuno Classic yesterday in Japan.
Iijima carded a bogey-free 66 that was peppered with six birdies at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club in Shima, while Lu and Hwang sank seven birdies against one bogey.
“My shots improved on the back nine,” Iijima said. “Previously I have been able to put my shots within around six feet from the pin, but not make the putts, but putts from that distance went down for me today and that is why I had a good score.”
The 24-year-old Lu, who finished tied for 31st place last year, got off to a flying start, sinking five consecutive birdies from the first hole of her second nine.
“My first nine was so-so today, but on the second nine [the front nine holes] I had five birdies in a row. I feel good about today’s round,” Lu said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Amy Hung both finished tied for 24th on two-under 71.
The 2007 champion, Momoko Ueda of Japan, hit a five-under 67 to put her in fourth place ahead of seven golfers on 68. Defending champion Jiyai Shin of South Korea was tied in 12th place on 69.
The 2006 champion Karrie Webb of Australia was in tied 38th place on 71, while Song Bo-bae of South Korea, the winner of the Mizuno in 2009, pulled out of the competition, coorganized by the LPGA and JPGA.
Additional reporting by Staff writer