Erika Hara & Sakura Ogoshi & Yuka Yasuda & Haruka Kawasaki… The “Queen Contest” is about to begin! Don’t miss these “Tsuyokawa” golfers! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Erika Hara & Sakura Ogoshi & Yuka Yasuda & Haruka Kawasaki… The “Queen Contest” is about to begin! Don’t miss these “Tsuyokawa” golfers!

Beautiful swings and bouncing smiles, the "Battling for Queen" of Japanese women's professional golf has begun!

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Erika Hara(24): left
Yuri Yoshida(22): Right

Erika Hara(left) has a driver with an average distance of 255 yards. Yuri Yoshida (right): Last season, she ranked first in recovery rate and third in average putts made among all players, and her iron and putting skills shined.

On March 2, the new season of women’s professional golf in Japan opened. Sportswriter Myung-Woo Kim predicts the outcome of the battle for a record 4.49 billion yen in prize money and the honor of being crowned queen of the year.

The favorite is Mimu Yamashita (21), who will be the winner for the second year in a row. She won five tournaments last season, and her prize money exceeded 235 million yen, the highest ever. Every shot is at the highest level. Her opponents are probably Mao Saigo (21), Sakura Ogoshi (24), Nana Suganuma (23), and Yuri Yoshida (22). Yoshida, in particular, has a strong desire to win after a frustrating year last season in which she finished in second place five times. In addition, Yuna Nishimura (22), who is in the same class as Yoshida, will be competing on the U.S. Tour this season, so I think she is fired up to lead the Japanese golf world in that regard.

There is another “Tsuyokawa” golfer who should not be forgotten.

Erika Hara (24), who struggled last season with no wins, is showing signs of recovery. Her mentor, Jumbo Ozaki, has always been strict with her, saying, ‘You always play the leading role outside of golf,’ but after watching her practice in the off-season, he gave his stamp of approval, saying, ‘You can expect great things from her this year. The irons, which he says he has worked hard to hone, are his new weapon.

(A reporter from a golf magazine) A dark horse in her second year as a professional is also a player to watch out for.

Haruka Kawasaki, 19, has a thin frame and an innocent expression, but she has a powerful swing that rivals that of male professionals. Her driver distance is among the best in the women’s class, and her putts are also very consistent.

Who will win the splendid battle!

Miyu Yamashita (21)

Miyu Yamashita had a record-breaking season, setting the record for the smallest stroke total by a female in Japan and becoming the youngest player to win the title of queen of the year. Especially in the second half of the season, she finished in the top 10 12 times in the 16 rounds she played. Will she be able to maintain her strong performance and run solo again this season?

Yuna Nishimura(22)

Yuna Nishimura has announced her participation in the U.S. Tour. She has been working on improving her form this off-season in order to increase the distance of her driver. She plans to participate in the second round of the domestic tour before heading to the U.S. in mid-March.

Talented players aiming to advance to the top of the leaderboard

Sakura Koiwai (24)

She has played 142 consecutive tournaments, the fourth most on the Japanese Tour. She says her secret to success is to eat her favorite dish, beef tongue, to give her energy, and to refresh herself by painting pictures and doing puzzles, which are her hobbies. She is aiming to win again this season with her inexhaustible stamina.

Mone Inami (23)

The year before last, she was the money winner. Last season, although she won the championship, she lost her form in many matches. She vowed to get revenge and bullied her body thoroughly in the off-season.

Nana Suganuma (23)

Last season, Nana Suganuma honed her putting game to achieve a career-high ranking of 8th place. Will she be able to achieve her long-sought first victory and strike the signature pose of making a heart with both hands at the awards ceremony?

Hikari Tanabe (25)

With her unique short grip, Hikari Tanabe hits high-precision shots. This season, she has been training hard in the off-season to revive her game. She hopes to hone her accuracy, which is her weapon of choice.

The eye of the typhoon! Five players to watch

Sakiki Baba (17)

A supernova who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur last year for the first time in 37 years, Sakiki Baba’s weapon is a driver over 270 yards that she uses to her advantage thanks to her height of 175 cm. She is mainly an invited player, but she can aim to advance to the higher ranks in the tournaments she plays in.

Yuka Yasuda(22)

Yuka Yasuda, with her innocent smile, is so popular that several unofficial fan clubs have been formed on the Internet. Last season, she missed the seeding at the last minute. Will she be able to gain revenge with her high-precision approach?

Ji-yu Jeong (27)

A Korean newcomer to the Japan Tour this season, she started playing at the age of 18 and turned pro in just two years.

Chisato Iwai(20)

Chisato won two consecutive victories on the top tour last year in her rookie year, and has risen to stardom. She and her twin sister, Meiai (left), were seeded together. Will this be the year of her awakening?

Haruka Kawasaki (19)

Haruka Kawasaki, 19, is also a rookie, but won the Japan Women’s PGA Championship, one of the four majors. Her powerful swing is as strong as any male pro’s. If she gains momentum, she will be able to advance to the next round. If she can gain momentum, she is a gem who can advance to the top ranks.

From the March 17, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

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