26th Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament starts
The field is set for this year’s 26th annual Daikin Orchid Ladies Golf Tournament, and observers are finding it hard to predict the odds of a Japanese golfer taking the season’s Ladies Professional Golf Association opening event.
Content with the theme “Ever Onward with Okinawa”, organizers have recycled it for this weekend’s competition, which actually kicks off today with the Pro-Am Tournament at Ryukyu Golf Course south of Naha City. Tee-off for the first round of the 54-hole tournament is Friday at 8:30 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday the tee-times begin at 8 a.m. Tickets for the first and second day cost ¥2,000, final day tickets are ¥3,000, and are available at all golf courses, driving ranges and golf shops, Ryubo, Okinawa Mitsukoshi, Coop Okinawa stores and Lawson and FamilyMart convenience stores.
This JLPGA has strict rules for spectators. Cell-phones must be on the silent mode, no photos or video taping are permitted, no high-heel shoes are permitted on or near the course. There’s NO parking at the club house. Parking is available at Nishihara Marine Park, with a free shuttle bus running frequently.
The Daikin Orchid total purse is ¥80 million with the winner taking home ¥14.4 million. The 50th place earns ¥320,000. Among participants, Airi Saito is the defending champion. Others include Shinobu Moromisato, whose best finish in Daikin Orchid was her 2nd place in 2010. She has participated every year since 2000, except 2003. Another Okinawan is Ayako Uehara.
From the JLPGA money list top 50 are Miki Saiki, Rikako Morita, Mayu Hattori, Sakura Yokomine, Ritsuko Ryu, Yumiko Yoshida, Hiromi Motegi, Yuri Fudo, Miohoko Iseri, Maiko Wakabayashi, Yukari Baba, Kaori Oe, Junko Omote, Rui Kitada, Misuzu Narita, Ai Kido, Nami Nagai, Akane Iijima, Kumiko Kaneda, Yuki Ichinose, Miki Sakai, Erina Hara, Asako Fujimoto, Yuko Fukuda, Erika Kikuchi, Airi Saito, Uta Anai, Kouki Fujita, Harukyo Nomura.
Plenty of Koreans are registered this year including Mi-Jeong Jeon, Sun Ju Ahn, Ji-Hee Lee, So-Hee Kim, Soo-jun Kang, Esther Lee, Na-Ri Lee, Na-Ri Kim, Hyun-ju Shin, Young Kim, Yeo-Jin Kang, Eun-Bi Yang, Ah-Reum Hwang, Bo-Bae Song, Ji-Min Lee, Da-Ye Na, Jin-Joo Hong.
Missing will be Okinawan Ai Miyazato, who plays on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit now. Ai Miyazato is recovering from whiplash and neck injuries suffered a week ago as she was preparing to go to Singapore for the Women’s HSBC Champions Tournament. Also missing is Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, the number one player on the LPGA tour.
The Tournament is sponsored by Daikin Industries Ltd. The top 50 competitors move to the final round on Sunday. That round is televised by Japanese networks. A popular feature of the Daikin Orchid is its mainly volunteer staff. More than 450 ladies donate their services to make the event a success. Daikin Bounty, a fundraising event promoting Okinawan culture, sports and entertainment, is also a part of the Daikin Orchid event. The group has raised more than ¥200 million over the past few years, donating funds to private and educational related Okinawa groups.