Americans Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis and South Korea’s Jiyai Shin are among those getting a head start at this week’s Masters GC Ladies event on the Japan LPGA Tour. Notably, with the LPGA schedule shrinking, the JLPGA appears eager to woo more Americans and Europeans (more on that below).
Shin and Lewis opened the 54-hole event Friday with 2-under-par 70s, three shots behind the leader, Shinobu Moromizato. Creamer opened with a 72. Creamer is popular in Japan and looking for her third victory there. She won this event in 2005 and also won the NEC Karuizawa on that tour the same year.
Notably, and credit goes here to The Constructivist at the Mostly Harmless Blog, the JLPGA appears to be heavily recruiting American and European tour players for membership next year. The blog notes that with the LPGA losing so many events, the JLPGA “is almost certain to have more tournaments than the LPGA next season and might even end up with a larger total purse for the year.”
According to the site, more Asian LPGA pros are seeking dual memberships on the LPGA and JLPGA tours. Major championship winners Eun-Hee Ji and Inbee Park, four-time LPGA winner Candie Kung and standouts Seon Hwa Lee and Meena Lee appear to be among them. No prominent Americans are listed seeking dual membership. Exactly how this will impact the LPGA remains to be seen but the JLPGA seems to be a growing option for LPGA pros wanting to fill out their schedules. Creamer skipped the Michelob Ultra Open earlier this year to play a Japanese event.