It was unlike anything Jeongeun Lee6 had seen before. Standing on the first tee at the TOTO Japan Classic on Thursday, the gallery stretched far and wide down the first fairway, with what seemed like a non-stop stream of spectators hurrying to watch not only her but one of her playing partners, 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno.
“I played with Hinako Shibuno yesterday, and I think she’s a superstar in Japan. On the first tee box I was so surprised. And then I was a little bit excited,” said Lee6. “I enjoyed it with her but the people are very quiet. Their manners are so good.”
The crowd didn’t rattle the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open champion, who opened the week up with a 69 and 68, respectively, to sit in a tie for fifth at -7 overall in Japan after 36 holes. Lee6 carded only one bogey and added five birdies on Friday, with three coming in her final four holes. Lee6, who is No. 48 on the Race to the CME Globe, is making her second appearance in the co-sanctioned event, after appearing in 2019 and finishing T24 in her debut. The Korean had a tough go at the most recent Tour event, the BMW Ladies Championship, finishing 70th in the no-cut format, and said she felt better for this week after appearing in the SK Networks Seoul Economics Ladies Classic during the LPGA Tour’s off week where finished in a tie for sixth.
“I gained a lot of confidence last week. I played in Korea on the KLPGA and finished in the top 10. And then I made a lot of good shots,” said Lee6, who has six wins in her career on the KLPGA. “This week, I played well today, and I hit it on the green, good second shots, so I gained a lot of confidence.”