Japans best rising at Kraft


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Mika Miyazato and Chie Arimura have thrust the Japanese flag high onto the Kraft Nabisco Championship leaderboard.

Miyazato was tied for the early lead and Arimura one back on Thursday at Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Tournament Course.

Miyazato’s an LPGA member, Arimura is not. Arimura makes her living on the Japan LPGA, a tour with an uncertain future. The last four Japan LPGA tournaments have been canceled.

Arimura, a seven-time winner on the Japan LPGA, is making the most of her international starts. She finished second at the LPGA’s HSBC Champions in Singapore last month. She was ninth at the Kraft Nabisco a year ago.

Arimura lives in Kumamoto, away from the epicenter, but she went to high school in Sendai, the city nearest the epicenter.

“I was shocked,” Arimura said of footage of the devastation. “Fortunately, I've learned all my friends there are safe.”

Mika Miyazato, Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda combined last week to start a special Japanese relief fund. Arimura wore the button the trio created for the fund.