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[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] JLPGA Tour Season Gets Underway with the 1st of 37 Tournaments

Rising JLPGA Tour star Chisato Iwai had a pair of 7-under 65 efforts entering the final round of the season-opening Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament.



Chisato Iwai hits a tee shot on the 12th hole in the third round of the JLPGA Tour's season-opening Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament in Nanjo, Okinawa Prefecture, on March 2, 2024. (©SANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] JLPGA Tour Season Gets Underway with the 1st of 37 Tournaments

UPDATED at 5:35 PM JST on March 3: Chisato Iwai won the Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament, the season-opening JLPGA Tour event, by two strokes over Mao Saigo, finishing at 18-under 270.

The busy 2024 JLPGA Tour season commenced on Thursday, February 29 at Ryukyu Golf Club in Nanjo, Okinawa Prefecture.

First contested in March 1988, the Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament is an annual event at this time of year.

Japan's women's pro golf circuit has 36 more events on the 2024 calendar, closing with the JLPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup in late November in Miyazaki.

To kick off the new season, 21-year-old Chisato Iwai carded a 7-under 65 on Thursday. She took a 2-stroke lead over Haruka Amamoto, Erika Kikuchi and Mao Saigo into the second round.

Following a 1-over 73 in the second round, Iwai moved back into title contention with a 65, which included 10 birdies, in Saturday's third round.


Heading into the final day of the four-round tourney, Iwai at 13-under 203 held a 1-stroke advantage over Saigo. Yuka Nii and Kikuchi were tied for third at 9-under 207.

Insights from Iwai

Iwai looked back on her disappointing second-round effort after bouncing back in the third round.

"I was extremely frustrated on the second day when I ended up over par. It was frustrating," Iwai told reporters, according to the JLPGA Tour's official website. "[However], I was able to sleep well even in such a situation."

Chisato Iwai had 10 birdies in the third round on March 2. (©SANKEI)

Iwai finished fifth in the money rankings in 2023 and her twin sister Akie also plays on the tour. She exhibited a determined outlook as she prepared for the final round of the season-opening tournament.

"A one-stroke lead is important," stated Iwaii, who won two JLPGA Tour tournaments in 2023. "But on the final day, I don't think of it as a one-stroke lead, I will just go for it. I want to improve my score with my style."

Other Top Contenders at the Season-Opening JLPGA Tour Tournament

Through Saturday's action, Amamoto and two-time reigning money champion Miyuu Yamashita sat in fifth place at 6-under 210. Yamashita had back-to-back 1-under 71s before shooting a 68 on Saturday. 

Reigning JLPGA Tour champion Miyuu Yamashita putts on the third green during the third round of the Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament. (KYODO)

Nii said she's determined to vie for victory in the last round, noting that "It's possible, I'm in range," according to an interview posted on the tour's website.

Looking ahead, in comments that also seem to underscore her outlook for the entire season, Nii added, "The top players are improving their scores. But it doesn't mean that tomorrow will be any better. Ryukyu Golf Club is a course where there is a fine line between a good score and a bad score. I will be very careful with my [course] management once again."

Yuka Nii (©SANKEI)

This week, defending Daikin Orchid Ladies champion Jiyai Shin of South Korea is playing in an LPGA Tour event, HSBC Women's Champions, in Singapore.

Did You Know?

According to the current Women's World Golf Rankings, United States-based Nasa Hataoka and Ayaka Furue are Japan's top two female golfers at 17th and 20th, respectively. Yamashita is ranked 22nd, while LPGA Tour regular Yuka Saso is 26th.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven


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