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Shin and Uehara share first day lead in Japan
November 02, 2012

Jiyai Shin, -4, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Na Yeon Choi, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Beatriz Recari, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 68
Momoko Ueda, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 72
Yani Tseng, -1 Rolex Rankings No. 1

Rolex Rankings No. 7 Jiyai Shin (@sjy1470) and Japan’s Ayako Uehara both fired rounds of 4-under par 68 to earn a share of the lead after the first round of the Mizuno Classic. Both leaders carded five birdies and one bogey, holding a one-stroke lead over a group of six including 2012 U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87), JLPGA member Maiko Wakabayashi, Wegmans LPGA Championship winner Shanshan Feng, defending champion Momoko Ueda, Beatriz Recari (@BeatrizRecari) and HSBC Women’s Champions winner Angela Stanford (@Angela_Stanford).

Shin teed off from the back-nine and opened her round with three straight birdies in the first five holes. She tallied two more birdies on the front-nine before ending her bogey-free streak at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club when she missed a par opportunity to remain in the lead on the final hole.

“Well, I hit it really well with my driver but my second shot with a 5-wood I missed the green,” Shin said. “Missed the chip and the putt, but you know that’s golf. I have two more rounds, so I just have to do my best. I think one bogey is enough for the week.”

In 2007, Momoko Ueda became the eighth Japanese player to capture the Mizuno Classic title in its 36th season on the LPGA Tour schedule. With her win in 2011 she became the first to have two wins at the tournament. There’s just something about the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club that brings out Ueda’s best game.

“I just like playing aggressively and that’s my style,” said Ueda. “But I do feel really comfortable playing on this course and I love most of the holes on this course. I had some struggles with the wind today but I have been preparing for this course and I just know when I need to go for the birdies.”

Ueda put herself in good position to defend her title after posting a 3-under par 67, putting her just one-stroke off of Jiyai Shin’s and Ayako Uehara’s lead. Ueda says she hopes to enter the second-round as calm as possible to get past the added pressure that comes with defending a title.

“Hopefully when I wake up tomorrow I won’t be nervous or feel any pressure,” Ueda said. “I love this course and I have great memories here, so enjoy tomorrow no matter what.”

With a win this weekend, Ueda would become the first Japanese player, and first since Annika Sorenstam in 2005, to defend the Mizuno Classic title.

During this week’s practice rounds, the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club enjoyed sunny weather with warm temperatures making for perfect conditions to score low. But in the first-round of play the windy conditions and cooler temperatures caused many players to play a bit more cautiously than originally planned.

“Definitely the wind and the cold conditions affected the game today,” Beatriz Recari said. “There were certainly some holes that you had to take into more consideration because it was really blowing off the sides. It was challenging but I just had to make sure I put myself in good position on the greens for a birdie putt or a good putt for par.”

The back-nine plays adjacent the Ago Bay, which causes more wind to sweep in from the waterfront making for difficult shots from the fairways. Many players felt they needed to select longer clubs for their second shots in order to land on the greens in regulation.

“There’s usually not much wind at this course,” Na Yeon Choi said. “This year, it’s really windy. I think that’s why the back-nine is very hard to choose your club from the second shot.”

“I think one bogey is enough for the week.” – Jiyai Shin, after carding her first bogey on the course since 2009.

Rolex Rankings No. 1Yani Tseng carded an eagle on the par-5 15th and finished with a tie for 19th at 1-under 71 along with No. 2 Stacy Lewis and nine others. Rookies Sydnee Micheals and Danielle Kang sit in a 10-way tie for ninth at 2-under 70 along with Evian Masters and Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia winner Inbee Park.

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