POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 24, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 09:38 p.m. HST, Mar 24, 2011
Over the past week the LPGA has made a concerted effort to raise money for the disaster in Japan.
Yani Tseng, the world's top-ranked player, donated $25,000 to Japan Relief and another $25,000 to UNICEF's effort in Japan this week. Last week, Karrie Webb gave $100,000 of her first-place prize to Peace Winds, designating Japan as the beneficiary.
That tournament did not offer prize money, but gave money to charity in the names of the top 10, with many other top finishers designating to Japan. The tournament also collected more than $50,000 for the birdies and eagles on the back nine, nicknamed the Japan Relief Zone.
This week, Japanese players Ai Miyazato (No. 6 in world rankings), Mika Miyazato (21) and Momoko Ueda (51) announced they had joined forces to create a website to raise money for the relief effort. The American address is firstgiving.com/fundraiser/MakerunaNippon and there is a Facebook page (facebook.com/MakerunaNippon).
The three also designed a logo for the effort, which they'll wear on buttons and pass out to other players. It reads "Makeruna Nippon," which Ai Miyazato translated as "Never Give Up Japan." She said she went to high school in Sendai.
"The initial emotion was speechless, and it's still the same right now," Ueda said. "I've seen someone being rescued after nine days at the site as well as other stories, but I feel sadness. Feeling sad just can't move us forward in the right direction. So with golf, hopefully, I can provide smiles to as many people as possible. So right now sadness is behind me."
Michelle Wie plays with Ai Miyazato and Maria Hjorth the first two days. They go out at 9:10 a.m Hawaii time today and 5:45 a.m. tomorrow. Hilo's Kimberly Kim tees off at 10:30 a.m. today and 5:05 a.m. tomorrow. The Golf Channel's coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Hawaii time the first three days and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Kim is an LPGA rookie. She turned pro after her freshman year at the University of Denver and finished 14th at LPGA Qualifying School. This is her seventh LPGA start (second as a pro). The only cut she has made came as a 14-year-old at the 2006 U.S. Women's Open. She also won the U.S. Women's Amateur that year.
Honolulu's Ayaka Kaneko, who has conditional LPGA membership, did not qualify Monday. Kaneko shot a 77. Two golfers got in, both shooting 70. Kaneko is playing in the season opener on the Duramed Futures Tour instead, in Florida. It tees off tomorrow and Kaneko will be joined by Leilehua graduate Britney Choy and Roosevelt graduate Xyra Suyetsugu.
Annika Sorenstam and her husband, Mike, had their second child Monday. William Nicholas McGee was premature, born at 27 weeks, and is 2.12 pounds and 15 inches. Sorenstam, who is home now, called the "next two months critical." The baby remains at the Winnie Palmer Hospital in Florida.