Akie Iwai Takes Early Lead in LPGA’s Toto Japan Classic
Japanese Golfer Shoots Record-Tying 63 in First Round
Nov 2, 2023, 06:10 AM ET
Akie Iwai of Japan made a stunning start to the LPGA’s Toto Japan Classic, shooting a remarkable 9-under 63 in the first round. Her exceptional performance placed her at the top of the leaderboard.
Iwai began her round with three consecutive birdies, displaying her exceptional skill and precision. Although she faced a setback with a bogey on the fourth hole, she quickly regained her momentum. Iwai went on to record another birdie on the ninth hole and an eagle on the twelfth, finishing with four more birdies to tie the tournament’s 18-hole scoring record.
Reflecting on her record-tying round, Iwai expressed her admiration for the course conditions, stating, “Not only the fairways and greens but also the rough are very beautiful this week. I like it very much, and it makes me feel like I could play well this week. It is going to be a very tough birdie-chasing game this week, but I want to build a new record.”
The last golfer to achieve a score of 63 at the Toto Japan Classic was China’s Shanshan Feng in 2017, who went on to win the event. Iwai’s exceptional performance puts her in a promising position for the tournament.
Joining Iwai at the top of the leaderboard are three other Japanese players: Nasa Hataoka, Yuna Nishimura, and Mone Inami. All three golfers finished their rounds with impressive scores of 64 at the Taiheiyo Club in north central Japan.
Hataoka, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, showcased her skills with three consecutive birdies and a total of six birdies on the back nine. Despite a bogey on the par-3 13th hole, Hataoka remains in contention for the title.
Nishimura’s round of 64 tied her career-low on the LPGA Tour. As a rookie, she expressed her struggles throughout the season but now feels confident in her abilities. Nishimura aims to concentrate on the CME Globe at the end of the season.
China’s Yu Liu and Japan’s Shiho Kuwaki finished the first round at 7 under, while Xiyu Lin of China and Sora Kamiya and Hikaru Yoshimoto of Japan are tied for seventh place at 6 under.
Defending champion Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland finished four strokes back after carding a 67. American Rose Zhang is also four strokes back after shooting a 68.
Dryburgh, who claimed her first victory on the LPGA Tour at last year’s Toto Japan Classic, received a unique prize from the Japanese sponsor Toto, known for its bathroom appliances and fixtures. She jokingly expressed her desire for another toilet to add to her collection on Instagram.
Reflecting on her victory last year, Dryburgh emphasized the impact it had on her career, stating, “I know I can compete out here and win also. Competing under that pressure, seeing the shots that you can do under that pressure as well, it gives you a lot of confidence.”
The Toto Japan Classic promises an exciting competition as Akie Iwai and other talented golfers vie for the title. Stay tuned for more updates on this thrilling tournament.