Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bridgestone Ladies Open Sunday: Lee Defeats Saiki and Koga in Playoff

Ji-Hee Lee made 5 birdies in her last 10 holes to catch Miho Koga and Miki Saiki at -8 in the final round of the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open--and she beat them in a playoff.

Saiki shot a bogey-free 69 Sunday and was the first to reach -8 with a birdie on the par-4 14th; Koga got her last birdie on the next hole, a short par 3. But Lee birdied both those holes and the par-5 16th to get to -8 herself.

By that point, the trio had pulled decisively away from the other second-round leaders. Ayako Uehara never got her round going and only got to -6 with a birdie on the par-5 13th, but could only manage a bogey down the stretch, falling back into a tie with the similarly-stalled Shiho Oyama for 5th and getting passed by Michiko Hattori, whose birdie on the 18th got her to -6. Those who were making final-round charges--like Sakura Yokomine (3 birdies in her last 7 holes), Noboku Kizawa (5 birdies in her last 10 holes), and Ya-Huei Lu (5 birdies in her last 12 holes)--were too far back at the turn to make an impact on the final outcome.

I'll pass along the Japanese media's report on the playoff when I can find it. It's interested that Lee's 2006 victory here came in similar come-from-behind fashion! And that she blocked Saiki from her first win of the year and Koga from becoming the first repeat winner on the JLPGA in 2008....

For now, here's the top 10 and notables' finishes:

1st/-8 Lee (71-69-68) [winner in playoff]
T2/-8 Saiki (71-68-69), Koga (71-67-70)
4th/-6 Hattori (68-71-71)
T5/-5 Oyama (70-70-71), Uehara (69-70-72)
7th/-4 Yomomine (71-71-70)
8th/-3 Lu (71-75-67)
T9/-2 Kizawa (71-74-69), Kaori Higo (72-73-69), Bo-Bae Song (73-71-70), Midori Yoneyama (71-70-73), Yukari Baba (68-72-74)

T14/-1 Hiroko Yamaguchi (77-71-67), Hyun-Ju Shin (69-72-74)
T18/E Erina Hara (73-74-69) Chie Arimura (72-72-72)
T28/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon (74-72-72), Yui Kawahara (74-70-74), Hiromi Mogi (69-71-77)
T33/+3 Na Zhang (76-72-71)
T45/+5 Mie Nakata (72-73-76)
T49/+6 Akane Iijima (71-74-77)

[Update 1 (5:55 am): Still nothing from Kyodo on the playoff, but here's the updated money list:

1. Akiko Fukushima ¥44.58M
2. Miho Koga ¥38.93M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥37.70M
4. Sakura Yokomine ¥34.54M
5. Yukari Baba ¥33.53M
6. Eun-A Lim ¥32.28M
7. Bo-Bae Song ¥31.46M
8. Ayako Uehara ¥29.93M
9. Miki Saiki ¥28.97M
10. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥24.95M]

[Update 2 (6:24 am): Here's a little tidbit I uncovered while researching my update to my March Best off the JLPGA ranking: Ji-Hee Lee just moved to #30 on the career money list and is barely 10 million yen ahead of none other than Miho Koga!]

[Update 3 (12:00 pm): Kyodo reports that it was a 20-foot birdie putt that won it for Lee when Saiki failed to chip in for birdie and Koga missed a 10-footer....]

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