Friday, July 25, 2008

JLPGA Players Championship Friday: Mi-Jeong Jeon Takes the Lead

Mi-Jeong Jeon has broken 100 million yen in season winnings the past 2 years, winning 3 events in 2006 and 4 in 2007, but she got off to a slow start in 2008--only 5 top 10s in her 1st 11 events--until a win at the Resort Trust Ladies event kicked off a run in her last 4 events in which her worst finish was 7th. So it's no surprise that she fired a 69 in the second round of the Kagome Philanthrophy LPGA Players Championship Friday to take a 2-shot lead over Akiko Fukushima, Yuko Mitsuka, and Hiromi Mogi. What is a bit of a surprise is that 1st-round leader Ji-Woo Lee played as badly as she did, dropping all the way to a tie for 6th, 4 shots back, after a birdieless 76.

Here's the top 10:

1st/-7 Jeon (68-69)
T2/-5 Mitsuka (70-69), Mogi (69-70), Fukushima (68-71)
5th/-4 Ayako Uehara (69-71)
T6/-3 Yasuko Ohtake (69-72), Lee (65-76)
T8/-2 Asuka Tsujimura (73-69), Midori Yoneyama (71-71), Mayumi Nakajima (67-75)

Scoring conditions were definitely more difficult today than yesterday; Lee and Nakajima were not the only players to make big moves backward:

T11/-1 Ji-Hee Lee (73-70), Yukari Baba (71-72)
T16/E Akane Iijima (74-70), Hyun-Ju Shin (72-72), Erina Hara (72-72), Hiroko Yamaguchi (72-72), Miho Koga (71-73), Maiko Wakabayashi (69-75)
T25/+1 Shinobu Moromizato (73-72), Shiho Oyama (72-73), Yun-Jye Wei (70-75)
T32/+2 Eun-A Lim (74-72), Sakura Yokomine (72-74), Michiko Hattori (71-75)
T51/+4 Mayu Hattori (73-75), Miki Saiki (71-77)

Ji-Hee Lee matched Ji-Woo Lee's Thursday 32 on the back to give herself a chance to put herself in contention on Sunday; she was sparked by an eagle on the 480-yard par-5 11th hole, which offset a 1st-hole double-bogey. Fukushima and Mitsuka were the only players in the top 10 to come within 3 shots of Lee on the back. In fact, Lim and Mayumi Shimomura were the only players in the entire field to come within 2 shots!

There were a surprising number of missed cuts this week by JLPGA young guns:

T63/+5 Esther Lee (74-75)
T70/+6 Yuki Ichinose (74-76)
T75/+7 Ritsuko Ryu (74-77)
T108/+13 Kaori Higo (76-81)
WD Chie Arimura (77)

So heading into moving day there are 9 players within 5 shots of Jeon's lead. Will anyone be able to get duble digits under par by the end of Saturday's round? Or will the leaders come back to the field?

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