THE LPGA of Japan team hold the advantage after the opening-day fourballs in The Queens presented by Kowa at Miyoshi Country Club in Nagoya.
On a bitterly cold day, the home nation won all four of their matches.
Ayaka Watanabe and Erika Kikuchi put the first point on the board with a 6&4 win over Ladies European Tour captain Dame Laura Davies and Melissa Reid, in the four-way event between the Ladies Professional Golf Association of Japan (JLPGA), Ladies European Tour (LET), Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) and Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA).
“We were always up against it, but really disappointed not taking them to the last few holes. We just didn’t make enough birdies,” said Davies.
Reid added: “Having five weeks off obviously doesn’t work very well for me, but it was just really cold. We had a rushed warm-up as well and it was hard to get into a rhythm. They played great.”
In the scoring system created for the inaugural tournament, three points are awarded for a win and one point to each team for a halved match. That means that Japan lead with 12 points.
Shiho Oyama and Misuzu Narita beat Koreans Seon Woo Bae and Jin Young Ko 2&1, Ritsuko Ryu and Miki Sakai bested Australians Rachel Hetherington and Whitney Hillier 4&3 and Japanese captain Momoko Ueda and Erina Hara thumped Australians Lindsey Wright and Stephanie Na 6&5.
Ueda said: “I’m extremely delighted with the way Japan has started the tournament. Our target was, and still is, to win every match. However, we can’t take today’s results for granted as we know it could be a very different story tomorrow. Looking at the scoreboard during the round, and seeing how well the other players were doing, gave me extra confidence and I’m sure it was the same for my team-mates.”
Korea are in second place with seven points after two wins and a halved match. US Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun and Yoon Ji Cho beat Australians Katherine Kirk and Nikki Garrett 4&3, while Jung Min Lee and Min Sun Kim defeated Gwladys Nocera and Marianne Skarpnord 1 up.
The Ladies European Tour team is in third place with four points after one win and one halved match.
This year’s Tipsport Golf Masters champion Hannah Burke and Emily Kristine Pedersen, who recently claimed her maiden title in India, combined for a 4&3 win over Sarah Kemp and Sarah Jane Smith. In the last match, Europeans Catriona Matthew and Karine Icher halved with Koreans Sung Hyun Park and Bo-Mee Lee.
Rookie professional Pedersen birdied the first hole to gain an immediate advantage in the third match before the effervescent Burke made a par on the long second for the Europeans to go two up on the Australians. Pedersen made an immense winning birdie putt of 26 yards across the fourth green before Burke holed from four feet on the 155-yard par-3 fifth to go four up.
“At the beginning we both holed some good putts for birdie and got a few up quite early. We kept that momentum going,” said Burke. Pedersen added: “We didn’t lose a hole, we just kept it going and had the honour all the time. Hannah was really nice and it worked out very well.”
It was a disappointing day for the Australian team, who failed to win any points in the fourballs. Captain Rachel Hetherington said: “We can only get better. I think all the girls actually played pretty solid. A few of us haven’t played competition golf for a little while so were a little out of sorts. We will definitely improve in every match from now on.
“We have a lot of diversity in our team, I guess. There are two new mums, I’m a mum to a four-year-old as well, so we probably have the most mums. Some of us haven’t played competitively for a little while and some of us play in the States, where their season finished in September, so we’re just warming up really. We’ve got nine singles matches as well on Sunday and foursomes which is different tomorrow.”