Saturday, July 26, 2008

JLPGA Players Championship Saturday: The Plot Thickens

The 3rd round of the Kagome Philanthropy LPGA Players Championship is well under way and the action is coming fast and furious. Yuko Mitsuka has pulled into a tie for the lead with Mi-Jeong Jeon at -8, while Akiko Fukushima and Ayako Uehara keep pace with the 2nd-round leader. Yasuko Satoh had made a move to join Fukushima at -6 after making 5 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, but 3 bogeys in her last 4 have dropped her back into a tie for 6th with a host of players. More updates as the action continues.

[Update 1 (12:48 am): Whoops! Mitsuka just bogeyed the par-3 13th to fall back to -7. Meanwhile, Hiromi Mogi birdied it to get back to +1 on the day and -4 for the tournament. Mayumi Nakajima is having a horrific back--+5 in her 1st 5 holes to drop back to E (T16)--which just shows how hard it is for the non-notables in the field to hang with the JLPGA's finest--at least those who are playing well this week!]

[Update 2 (12:54 am): #2 on the money list Ji-Hee Lee is making a move on the back in the right direction after an eagle on the par-4 14th hole gets her to -3 on the side and the tournament. Quite a bit better than Miki Saiki (76, +8, T53), Michiko Hattori (76, +6, T49), Mayu Hattori (73, +5, T41), Eun-A Lim (74, +4, T36), Sakura Yokomine (73, +3, T34), Shinobu Moromizato (73, +2, T28), and Miho Koga (+1 through 17, +1, T22). Not all the greats are great this week....]

[Update 3 (12:59 am): More notables from lower down the leaderboard: Akane Iijima (72, E, T15), Shiho Oyama (71, E, T15), Yun-Jye Wei (71, E, T15), Hiroko Yamaguchi (71, -1, 14th). Ji-Hee Lee, by the way, just bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop back to -2, tied with Erina Hara (70), Hyun-Ju Shin (-2 through 17), Yukari Baba (-1 through 16), and Satoh (who bogeyed the 16th as well) in 8th place right now. Uehara birdied the par-4 14th to pull back within 2 of Jeon.]

[Update 4 (1:02 am): Toshimi Kimura (68) birdied 4 of her last 8 holes to shoot a 33 on the back and fight back to E, good enough for T15 right now. Contrast that with Hiroko Yamaguchi and Shiho Oyama, who both shot 33 on the front but ballooned to 38 on the back for their 71s....]

[Update 5 (1:18 am): The 15th has been a killer today: 8 bogeys, a double, and only 1 birdie among the 20 players on the 1st page of the leaderboard who have played it thus far. The 4 players who have separated themselves from the field are coming to this tough par 4 now. Let's see how they do. Jeon: bogey. Mitsuka: par. Fukushima: triple. Uehara: par. Yikes! Nice 69 by Maiko Wakabayashi, despite her bogey on the 15th. She's -3 for the tournament and in a tie for 4th. Another stat to keep in mind as the leaders finish out their rounds: the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes have given up only 1 birdie each to the entire front page of the leaderboard.]

[Update 6 (1:21 am): This is a tough tough tough day out there. Orie Fujino and Yui Kawahara are the only other players in the entire field to break 70 today. Mitsuka and Uehara have a chance to do it if they can play the last 3 holes in at least 1-under....]

[Update 7 (2:02 am): My bad--there were 2 birdies on the 18th from the top 20 before the leaders got there. Here's how they finished: Jeon: par-par-par. Mitsuka: par-bogey-par. Uehara: par-par-bogey. So here's how the leaderboard looks after moving day stopped moving:

1st/-7 Mi-Jeong Jeon (68-69-72)
2nd/-6 Yuko Mitsuka (70-69-71)
3rd/-5 Ayako Uehara (69-71-71)
4th/-4 Akiko Fukushima (68-71-73)
T5/-3 Maiko Wakabayashi (69-75-69), Ji-Woo Lee (65-76-72), Hiromi Mogi (69-70-74)
T8/-2 Hyun-Ju Shin (72-72-70), Erina Hara (72-72-70), Yukari Baba (71-72-71)

T11/-1 Hiroko Yamaguchi (72-72-71), Ji-Hee Lee (73-70-72), Midori Yoneyama (71-71-73)
T14/E Shiho Oyama (72-73-71), Yun-Jye Wei (70-75-71), Akane Iijima (74-70-72)
T20/+1 Miho Koga (71-73-73)
T25/+2 Shinobu Moromizato (73-72-73)
T31/+3 Sakura Yokomine (72-74-73)
T36/+4 Eun-A Lim (74-72-74)
T40/+5 Mayu Hattori (73-75-73)
T49/+6 Michiko Hattori (71-75-76)
T53/+8 Miki Saiki (71-77-76)

Ji-Hee Lee couldn't sustain her momentum on the back, bogeying 2 of her last 3 holes. She was still one of the few to break par on the brutal back. Midori Yoneyama was another victim today, going 34-39. It wasn't a good day to be a Yasuko on the back, either. Satoh ended up with a 40 for a 73 (E, T14) and Ohtake with a 39 for a 77 (+2, T25). But Fukushima fought back with a birdie on the 17th. She's still in this thing, despite her triple bogey! Can she become the JLPGA's 1st 3-time winner of 2008? With 9 players within 5 of Jeon's lead, this is still almost anyone's tournament....]

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