Akie Iwai off to sizzling start at Toto Japan Classic

League: Golf

Posted on: 02 Nov, 2023 at 02:40 PM

Credit: Carter Skaggs-USA TODAY Sports

Akie Iwai carded a 9-under-par 63 to tie the tournament 18-hole scoring record on Thursday after the first round of the LPGA's Toto Japan Classic in Omitama, Japan.

Iwai holds a one-stroke lead over fellow Japanese golfers Nasa Hataoka, Yuna Nishimura and Mone Inami at the Taiheiyo Club, Minori Course.

"Not only the fairways and greens but also the rough are very beautiful this week. I like it very much and it makes me feel like I could play well this week," Iwai said of her record-tying round. "It is going to be a very tough birdie-chasing game this week, but I want to build a new record."

Iwai recorded a birdie on each of her first three holes before settling for a bogey on No. 4. She added another birdie on No. 9 and an eagle on No. 12 before finishing with four more birdies.

"Yes, indeed," Iwai said when asked if Thursday's performance served as a comfortable round. "It has been a while since I had a comfortable round last time. Actually my shots are not consistent today but try not to think negatively. It works today."

The last golfer to card a 63 at the Toto Japan Classic was China's Shanshan Feng in 2017. Feng went on to win the event.

Hataoka, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, finished with three straight birdies and made six birdies on the back nine overall to offset a bogey at the par-3 13th hole.

"(On No. 18) I was trying for two-putt, save par, but it was a good line and it just (got) in," Hataoka said. "... (On the) 17th hole, it is short par-5 so that hole I really want to birdie but on 16, par-3, was good 6-iron tee shot and I hit it good."

Nishimura's 64 tied her career-low round on the LPGA Tour.

"Actually I'm struggling in my first year as a rookie but I'm now pretty confident to play here and I'm trying to concentrate on the CME Globe at the end of the season." Nishumura said.

China's Yu Liu and Japan's Shiho Kuwaki each finished at 7-under, while China's Xiyu Lin and Japan's Sora Kamiya and Hikaru Yoshimoto resided at 6-under in a tie for seventh place.

Defending champion Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland was 5-under, while American Rose Zhang was four shots back of Iwai after carding a 68.

--Field Level Media