Hinako Shibuno was also a graduate of this battlefield. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hinako Shibuno was also a graduate of this battlefield.

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A 19-year-old rising star grabbed her first win on the regular tour at the Shiseido Ladies Open, held at Totsuka Country Club in Kanagawa Prefecture through July 2. She is Shinna Sakurai. She has been playing on the regular tour in her second season after passing the professional test in November 2009. Last year, however, she played mainly on the “Step Up Tour,” which is a lower tour. There, she won a step record five times and ranked first in the prize money ranking, and this year she had a Cinderella story of winning the top category. Even though she is now playing on the lower tours, the level of her game is rising rapidly. In this issue, we focus on some of the “strong Kawakami players” on the Step Up Tour who are expected to make their mark in the future.

Ayumi Yamada (24)

(Photo: Kyodo News)
(Photo: from Ayumi Yamada’s Instagram)

Saaho Yamada is a member of the golden generation born in 1998, the same year as Minami Katsu and Hinako Shibuno, and is rapidly gaining popularity. After taking the professional test in 2009, the 24-year-old from Hokkaido has been working to improve her game, mainly on the Step Up Tour. She has a baby face, but her positive tone as she talks about her goals gives a crisp impression.

There is an anecdote that at her first regular tour event, the Daito Kenko Ii Room Net Ladies in 2009, photographers gathered at the hole where Yamada was playing because they had heard a rumor.

Shinozaki Ai (25)

Shinozaki won the JLPGA Step Up Tour “Shishido Hills Ladies Mori Building Cup” (total prize money: 20 million yen, 3.6 million yen) on October 28 last year, her first win on the Step Up Tour (Photo: Getty Images)
Ai Shinozaki (right, excerpt from Ai Shinozaki’s Instagram) eating ice cream between tournaments.

Ai Shinozaki (Mana), 25, who won her first professional victory at last year’s Step Up Tour “Shishido Hills Ladies Mori Building Cup,” has a promising future as a flyer. Although she is slender at 157 centimeters and 48 kilograms, she can average over 250 yards with a driver in her hands. She is proud of this, saying, “Everyone tells me that I have the best distance to weight ratio.

This hard-working player, who passed the professional test on his fifth try, has played five matches on the regular tour this season, all of which he qualified for, and is beginning to show his ability. By the way, the unusual way she calls her name “Mana” means “I am Mana, the daughter of Mana (love).

Soeho Hashi (23)

A shot with her second sister Kaoru (right), who aspires to become a professional golfer, and her father Junji, a senior professional golfer. About 60% of the family’s conversations are related to golf (photo provided by Hoho Hashizoe herself, published April 16, 2010).
Hao Hashizoe at the “Minebea Mitsumi Ladies Hokkaido Newspaper Cup” held at Makomanai Country Club (photo from Hao Hashizoe’s Instagram).

Hoho Hashizoe (Minori), born in 2000, is a member of the platinum generation, which includes Ayaka Furue and Yuna Nishimura, who were born in the same year. Her father, Junji Hashizoe, who is a senior pro and also serves as her coach, is a father-son falcon, and the two have worked together to make her a pro.

With three older sisters: Minami, the eldest, who once competed on the tour as a single-year registered player; Kaoru, the second, who aspires to become a professional golfer; and Megumi, the third, who was the captain of the golf club at Meiji University when she was a student and now works for a golf manufacturer, Hoho is the youngest of the four , saying, “I got a lot of praise and encouragement from them. The four Hashizoe sisters are also talked about for their many beauties. The name “Minori” came to Minami as a child, and her parents named her after the Chinese character for “minori.

Akari Takano (27)

Excerpt from Akari Takano’s Instagram
Excerpt from Akari Takano’s Instagram

Akari Takano, a 27-year-old rookie, won the Regional Mirai Guru Ladies Sakamado Ume Cup in May this year. In the same age group, there is a lineup of mid-career tour winners such as Asuka Kashiwabara and Kotone Hori.

While other prominent players of her age took the professional test right after graduating from high school, Takano went on to Hosei University to gain experience and achievements. He honed his skills in student golf, but it took him five attempts before he passed the test. He finally passed the professional test last year, thinking it would be his last, and began his career on the tour as a late bloomer. I want to be a long-lasting player,” she said. I want to be a player with longevity.” With her calm and composed golf game, she is looking forward to showing her great potential to further impress.

Shigeka Miyata (25)

(Photo: Kyodo News)
This March, Miyata tried her hand at modeling kimonos (photo from Shigeka Miyata’s Instagram).

Despite her cool beauty, 25-year-old Shigeka Miyata always has a glint in her eye and a burning desire to win. Her potential, including her shot ability, is highly regarded around the tour circuit. Her average driver distance of 255.18 yards on tour this year is a career high.

At the Shiseido Ladies Open, she was the leader after the third day. She eventually finished in fourth place, but even under great pressure, she kept her score intact and remained in the center of the championship contention until the very end. At that time, he remained bullish, saying, “That (victory) was the only thing I was thinking about the whole time. The following week at the “Minebea Mitsumi Ladies Hokkaido Newspaper Cup,” he tied for ninth place and finished in the top 10 for two consecutive rounds. Will she finally be ready for her awakening?

Rie Ru Shibusawa (22)

(Photo: Getty Images)
On her 21st birthday. She wrote about her gratitude to her mother (photo from Rie Ru Shibusawa’s Instagram).

Rieru Shibusawa is a businessman known as the “father of modern Japanese capitalism,” and is related to Eiichi Shibusawa, whose portrait will appear on the new 10,000 yen bill to be issued next year. Born on December 24, 2000, she is also a member of the platinum generation, and is a promising prospect who passed her first professional test in 2007, along with Yuna Nishimura, Yuri Yoshida, and Yuka Yasuda, all of whom were in the same grade.

Although her hometown is Gunma Prefecture, she studied golf at Oki Gakuen High School, a strong school in Fukuoka Prefecture that has produced numerous professionals. He chose Oki Gakuen because he wanted to play golf in a place where the days were longer. She has been a big fan of singer Nissy (Takahiro Nishijima) since junior high school, and on the official SNS of the Japan Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association (JLPGA) posted in June, she “confessed” that she “pays it forward” by actively purchasing goods and other means (laugh). The name Rie Ru, which is rare, means “to attain enlightenment.

This season, the Step Up Tour has played 23 tournaments. The entire tour is currently focusing on further strengthening the game. In the past, Hinako Shibuno, who had just turned pro, honed her skills here, and later went on to play well on the regular tour and even won the Women’s British Open. The course serves as a gateway to success for young players, as well as for players who are aiming for a rebirth and veterans who want to make their mark. Why don’t you take a look at these players who are striving to “step up” in the future?

  • Photos courtesy of Kim Myung-ik (5th)

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