SHIMA, Japan – Japan’s Shiho Oyama shot a 4-under 68 Friday to take the first-round lead in the Mizuno Classic, the final tournament in the LPGA Tour’s five-event Asian swing.
Oyama had six birdies and two bogeys at Kintetsu Kashikojima in the event also sanctioned by the Japan LPGA Tour.
“I have been having this neck ache that’s been affecting my golf recently,” Oyama said. “But yesterday I had some massage and the pain is gradually fading.”
Jiyai Shin, the tournament winner in 2008 and 2010, was a stroke back along with fellow South Korean players Chella Choi, Hee-Won Han, Na-Ri Lee, Eun-Bi Jang, American Brittany Lincicome, Japan’s Junko Omote and Kaori Nakamura and Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis opened with a 71. The American, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, has three victories this year.
“It was kind of up and down,” Lewis said. “I probably could have played a lot better but I think it could have been worse. I played really tough through a lot of cross winds and I just hung in there all day.”
Lincicome had an eagle on the first hole before carding four birdies against three bogeys.
South Korean star Inbee Park, who leads the money list and player of the year rankings, is sitting out the tournament as is Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who trails Park on both lists.
Lewis leads the LPGA Tour in top-10 finishes this season with 16. Her three victories this season include a major championship, and she still has a remote shot at winning the player of the year award with three events remaining.
Karrie Webb of Australia, who won here in 2006, was tied for 36th place after an even-par 72.
The 54-hole Mizuno Classic is made up of 43 LPGA Tour players and 35 members of the LPGA of Japan.