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Shibuno suddenly eyeing Japanese Olympic berth

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Fresh off her AIG Women’s British Open win, Hinako Shibuno now finds herself in line for a potential Olympic berth.

Shibuno is up to 14th in the Rolex Rankings, making her the second highest Japanese player in the world, behind 10th-ranked Nasa Hataoka.

Although there’s still 11 months to go before the qualification period for the women’s event closes on June 29, 2020, Shibuno is currently in line to represent the host country in Tokyo next year.

Ranked 563rd at the end of 2018, the 20-year-old made a quick ascent with a pair of victories on the JLPGA, vaulting all the way to 46th in just seven months.

She jumped up 32 more spots with her win at Woburn, leapfrogging Mamiko Higa and Ai Suzuki to move into Japan’s second Olympic spot.

Shibuno has the option to take up LPGA membership for the rest of this season or to defer to next year.

Japan was represented in the women’s competition in 2016 by Haru Nomura and Shiho Oyama.

Hideki Matusyama and Shugo Imahara are currently the two highest-ranked Japanese players on the men’s side.