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[ODDS and EVENS] Saiki Fujita Makes JLPGA History with Her 7th Hole-in-One

Veteran Saiki Fujita took sole possession of the JLPGA Tour's career record with an ace on the par-3 13th hole at Saitama's Ishizaka Golf Club on April 6.

In sports, there's really nothing comparable to a hole-in-one in golf, what with an endless array of dimensions and landscapes on different holes at countless courses. It's a unique, thrilling accomplishment each time, as the JLPGA Tour's Saiki Fujita or any casual weekend golfer will tell you.

Heading into the 2024 JLPGA Tour season, an interesting trend had been a part of Fujita's professional golfer biography: From 2007 through 2022, she had notched a hole-in one exactly once every three years. And by making one ace apiece in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019, she approached a record.

At the 40th Fujisankei Ladies Classic on April 22, 2022, Fujita recorded the sixth hole-in-one of her pro career. She did so on the par-3 17th hole in the first round at Kawana Hotel Golf Course in Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Fujita, 38, entered the three-round Fujifilm Studio Alice Ladies Open, which started on Friday, April 5, tied with six others (Chie Arimura, Ikuyo Shiotani, Fuki Kido, Hiromi Takamura, Ritsu Imahori and Man Soo Kim) for the JLPGA's all-time lead in holes-in-one.

A New Hole-in-One Record

One day later, Fujita established a new standard.

At Ishizaka Golf Club in Hatoyama, Saitama Prefecture, Fujita made history on the par-3 13th, a 150-yard hole. After her steady swing, the ball catapulted off her 8-iron, flew in the air, rolled for a few feet and then plopped into the hole.

Fujita was delighted.

"It was perfect," she said of her shot on April 6, according to The Chunichi Shimbun. "As the ball was flying," she added, "it felt really good, so I thought, 'Go in, please!' "

It did. 

And now, Fujita sits atop the JLPGA Tour's hole-in-one list with seven career aces. The tour was launched in 1968.

Saiki Fujita
Saiki Fujita tees off on the 13th hole in the second round of the Fujifilm Studio Alice Ladies Open at Ishizaka Golf Club in Hatoyama, Saitama Prefecture, on April 6. (©SANKEI)

Saiki Fujita Achieves a Dream

Fujita expressed joy after accomplishing one of her goals in golf.

"I dreamed of becoming the No 1 all-time leader [in holes-in-one], and I was motivated to do it for the seventh time," she said, according to the Japanese-language Golf Digest website.

Looking ahead, Fujita will maintain an ever-present motivation whenever she plays in a JLPGA tournament: to keep swinging for record-extending aces.

"I will do my best not to be overtaken, and I hope to extend my lead," she said, according to the Golf Digest website. 

Buoyed by her record-breaking ace, Fujita shot a 6-under 66 in the second round in the sixth tourney of the 2024 JLPGA Tour season. She completed the weekend in a tie for sixth place at 7-under 209.

Miyuu Abe won the tournament with a 15-under 201.

Saiki Fujita
Saiki Fujita (©SANKEI)

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Grateful for Support and Encouragement

So far in 2024, Fujita has placed in the top 10 in two of six tournaments. Her other top result was a sixth-place finish in the Meijiyasuda Ladies Yokohama Tire Golf Tournament, which ended on March 10. 

Fujita ended an 11-year title drought in November 2022 in the Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open, collecting her sixth career JLPGA Tour title. 

She finished with a 21-under 263 in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, for a one-stroke victory over Ai Suzuki.

It was an emotional triumph for Fujita, who mentioned she was mourning the death of a caddie from cancer that October. 

"There are so many things I want to say that I can't express them all here," Fujita was quoted as saying by Sports Nippon. "So I'm really grateful to everyone for supporting me and for making it this far. I want to say thank you."

Saiki Fujita
Saiki Fujita in a May 2013 file photo. (©SANKEI)

Fujita claimed back-to-back Promise Ladies titles in June 2006 and '07 for the first two wins of her career.

Winning more titles, of course, is a constant part of Fujita's quest for success. Getting more holes-in-one is also another top objective, she noted at Ishizaka Golf Club on April 6.

"I think it will take me all year, but my golf game is coming together and I am playing well," Fujita told reporters after the second round, the Golf Digest website reported. 

"Of course, I will do my best to win the [season] championship, and I will also try to improve my hole-in-one record. I'll do my best for both."

Fujita placed 11th overall in earnings (¥79 million JPY, or about $516,000 USD) in the 2023 campaign. For the 2024 season, she's 13th in prize money, as of April 7.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.


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