Ryu battles injury
Throughout her final nine holes, So Yeon Ryu was visibly sore.
She confirmed after her round Friday that she was battling a shoulder injury, despite the fact that she still shot a 4-under-par 68 to sit just two shots back of the lead
Ryu, who has won twice already this year, said she hurt herself in Malaysia last week and admitted she was struggling with it.
At first it was hurting during just her follow-through, she said, but on the back nine she said she was feeling it on her backswing as well. She saw her Osteopath on No. 16 which helped, she said, but is hoping to feel better over the next two days.
“I just worked out on Monday and after that I started to feel it. I could be from the work out, it could be from fatigue,” she said. “Not sure what it is, but all I’m thinking about is that I really want to get well soon.”
Nordqvist credits new coach
For someone like Anna Nordqvist, who is a self-proclaimed planner, this year has gone anything but according to plan.
However, with two wins already – including a major – she still thinks this year as been a successful one.
After Friday’s opening round at the TOTO Japan Classic, Nordqvist sits just one shot back of the lead.
She said this year has been a ‘roller coaster’ but she does admit she’s learned a lot.
“Given everything I’ve gone through, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at,” she said. “I lost a lot of good training time in the summer with mono… so I’m starting to look forward to the off-season with just two events left."
Nordqvist also started working with noted swing instructor Cameron McCormick this year (he also coaches Jordan Spieth, amongst others) after going without a coach from April to July.
“I was on my own,” she said. “(Cameron) cleaned up my backswing a little bit, and we worked quite a bit on my putting and just simplifying my short game. He’s a great guy, very positive, and helped simplify everything.”
Feng looking to defend despite caddie’s health trouble
Shanshan Feng is looking to become the first golfer on the LPGA Tour to defend her title in 2017, and through one round, she’s in as good a position as any.
Feng, who fired a 6-under-par 66 on Friday, is tied for the lead with six others.
She admitted after her round that she just stuck to her game plan that helped her capture the title a year ago, despite the fact that she had a bit of a caddie scare on Thursday.
“Yesterday I was worried because they sent (my caddie) to the hospital because his stomach was not feeling good. They found out it wasn’t a big problem so he told me that he could caddie today,” said Feng. “I was worried, but I made sure with him before the round started that he would make it through this week no matter what. I felt really comfortable on the course because I had (my caddie) on the course, like usual.”
Thompson has sizzling back nine
It was a bit of a rough start for Lexi Thompson, sitting 2-over par after nine holes, but a blistering 6-under-par 30 on her back nine has her just two shots back of the lead going into Saturday’s second round.
Thompson, who birdied six of her last eight holes to closed out the first round of the TOTO Japan Classic, admitted her front nine got off to a ‘rough start’ citing jetlag as the reason.
“I finally woke up,” she said. “Hit some great shots on the back nine so I’m going to feed off that going into the next few days.”
Thompson took the last two weeks off to work on her game and spend some time with her family. She said she practiced a lot during the two weeks back at home in-between family time in order for things to come together for her this week and for the season finale in Florida.
Thompson is looking for her third win of the year and leads the Race to the CME Globe.
She said she was working hard on her ball striking these last two weeks in order to tighten things up for her final two events of the year.
“I just haven’t been consistent enough,” she said. “I want to go out there and play fearless golf.”
Players loving Japan
Between the shopping, the food, and the fans, the stars of the LPGA Tour are loving their time in Japan.
So much so that one, LIzette Salas, might consider moving.
“We were joking we should move here. We love it so much,” she said with a smile. “The shopping is great, the food is amazing, and the people are so nice and polite. We knows? We just have to learn the language and that’s pretty much it. I haven’t been to Tokyo since 2008, so to see it and step away from the golf has been really refreshing. It’s really nice to be here.
The fans were packed into the Minori Course at the Taiheyo Club on Friday, and Brittany Altomare said it was a thrill to play in front of such a robust crowd.
“I love it,” she said. “The people are so nice and there are so many fans out there and it’s just the first day. I’m looking forward to seeing it on the weekend.”
Shanshan Feng, who shares the lead with six others, said she arrived Monday morning and went straight to the mall for some great shopping and food in Tokyo. She was then showered with fan support Friday.
“I did play five years on the JLPGA so I think maybe a lot more fans know about me since I played a lot over here. I was really happy, even though they were all Japanese today, but they were still trying to speak Chinese to me. They were calling my name and I was like ‘yeah, thank you’ – they made me feel like they were my fans,” said Feng. “They were still cheering for me, I was really enjoying it so I really wanted to hit more good shots and make more birdies for them.”