Katsu to the Fore as Japan Surges Into Contention

2014 Espirito Santo TrophyKaruizawa, Japan: Canada posted a 14-under-par 274 for a two-stroke lead over surging Japan after two rounds of the 2014 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (WWATC) at Karuizawa 72 Golf East.
Fuelled by a 69 from Brooke Henderson and a 70 from Brittany Marchand, Canada registered a second-round total of five-under 139 at the par-72 Iriyama Course. Their 36-hole total is tied for the second-lowest in WWATC history.
“Today, we started a little slow,” said Canadian captain Liz Hoffman. “It wasn’t our best day on the front nine but we gained momentum through the round. What I saw in all the players was tremendous determination. They ground it out and stayed focused.”
Mirami Katsu, of Japan, which was 16th after the first round, shot a seven-under 65, to catapult the home nation into second place. Her team-mate Eri Okayama shot a 67 for the day’s best team score of 12-under 132, the second-lowest team score for any round in championship annals.
Katsu’s 65 on the Oshitate Course was matched by England’s Bronte Law and is the lowest score at the 2014 championship.
Two-time defending champion Republic of Korea holds third place at 277, followed by Sweden and Spain tied for fourth at 278, Germany in sixth at 279, England, India and Mexico tied for seventh at 281 and Australia, Denmark, France and the USA tied for 10th at 282.
The 16-year-old Henderson, who is second in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WWAGR) and won the CN Canadian Women’s Professional Tour event in Quebec in 2012 at age 14, posted five birdies against two bogeys.
In her round of 65, Katsu tallied an eagle, six birdies and one bogey. A 16-year-old student at Kagoshima High School, she became the youngest winner in the history of the LPGA of Japan Tour in April when she captured the KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies Open at age 15. She is 25th in the WWAGR.
“I was only one-under on the front nine,” said Katsu, a quarter-finalist at the 2014 Japan Women’s Amateur. “But, I never gave up making any scores. I was happy to continue keeping up with my motivation until the 18th hole. I’m hoping I will not miss a beat for the next two days. I’ll do my best to focus.”
Japanese captain Tomoko Sakamoto did her best to keep the pressure off her team after the first round by not holding a team meeting in the evening. “In WWATC history, our best rank for the Japan team was fourth place three times,” she said. “We missed a chance to receive a prize. Our goal is to win a prize and hoist a national flag with Japanese pride like as a rising sun flag. I hope to keep the team relaxed.”
Korea’s Lee So-young, 17, who won the gold medal at last month’s Youth Olympic Games in China, shot a 69 and team-mate Choi Hey-jin logged a 71. After winning in 2010 and 2012, Korea is attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive Espirito Santo Trophy competitions since the USA in 1980, 1982 and 1984.

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