Friday, July 18, 2008

Stanley Ladies Friday: The Stars Are Out in Force

Kasumi Fujii is the leader in the clubhouse at the Stanley Ladies event on the JLPGA with the 1st round still in progress. She made only 1 bogey as she shot matching 33s on each side. Currently, she's 1 shot ahead of Kaori Harada, who fired a bogey-free 67, and 2 shots ahead of Yuki Ichinose, among the many who shot 68s today. But there are some big names still out on the course who could threaten Fujii's lead. Ji-Hee Lee is -5 with 1 hole left to play. Akiko Fukushima, Ayako Uehara, and Hiroko Yamaguchi are at -4 with a handful of holes still to be played. Eun-A Lim is -3 with 2 to go. Yuri Fudoh is -2 with only the 18th to play, but Chie Arimura and Erina Hara have several more chances to go lower. More as they all finish up!

[Update 1 (1:15 am): Some more rounds in process. Nikki Campbell birdied her 1st 4 holes in a row and ended up with a 32 on the front. She's now -5 with 6 holes to go--and Uehara just joined her. Fukushima and Yamaguchi have fallen back to -3. Shinobu Moromizato, Yukari Baba, Yuko Mitsuka, Akane Iijima, Shiho Oyama, and Mayu Hattori are at -1 with everything from a couple to a handful of holes left to play. Hiromi Mogi, Bo-Bae Song, and Na Zhang are currently at E. Miho Koga, Miki Saiki, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Midori Yoneyama, and Ritsuko Ryu are at +1. Esther Lee is +3 through 10.]

[Update 2 (1:19 am): Notables who have finished include Ji-Hee Lee (66, T1), Yuri Fudoh, Shiho Oyama, and Maiko Wakabayashi (70, T20), Michiko Hattori (71, T31), Yun-Jye Wei (73, T55), and Kaori Higo (79, 107th).]

[Update 3 (1:31 am): Lee made 4 birdies in her final 6 holes to shoot a 32 on the back and a 66 overall; like her co-leader Fujii, she made 1 bogey on the front. It appears that Sakura Yokomine is the only player in the top 20 of the money list to be sitting out this week. But I don't see her listed among the Japanese players entered in the Evian Masters, so what's her excuse? I know she's playing in the Women's British Open at the end of the month, but you don't see Ji-Hee Lee or Lim or Song or Baba or Uehara or Fudoh or Saiki taking the week off.]

[Update 4 (1:34 am): Akiko Fukushima sits at #2 on the JLPGA career money list, about a quarter of a billion yen behind Fudoh. Wouldn't it be fitting if she became the 2nd repeat winner on the JLPGA in 2008? She's now -4, playing the 18th.]

[Update 5 (1:39 am): More finishes. Lim shot a 69 (T15). Mitsuka a 70 (still T20). Iijima a 71 (still T31). Mogi a 72 (T45). Ryu a 73 (now T58). Saiki a 74 (T72).]

[Update 6 (1:41 am): Uehara shot a 67 (T3).]

[Update 7 (2:58 am): 1st round complete. Here's how the leaderboard stands, then, with notables:

1st/-7 Campbell (65)
T2/-6 Lee, Fujii (66)
T4/-5 Uehara, Yamaguchi, Harada (67)
T7/-4 Ichinose and 7 others (68)

T15/-3 Fukushima, Lim (69)
T20/-2 Arimura, Fudoh, Mitsuka, Oyama, Mayu Hattori (70)
T31/-1 Baba, Iijima, Michiko Hattori, Hara, Zhang (71)
T45/E Song, Jeon, Mogi (72)
T57/+1 Koga, Wei, Esther Lee, Moromizato, Yoneyama, Ryu (73)
T84/+3 Saiki (75)
T105/+7 Higo (79)
DQ Wakabayashi

How about that Nikki Campbell? Hot start and a hot finish to take the lead! 65 with 2 bogeys is pretty impressive. By contrast, Fukushima bogeyed the 18th to fall 4 back. Koga and Saiki are officially slumping. Esther Lee has cooled off fast from her hot streak in the early summer, but she closed strong to limit the damage today from a double-triple-bogey stretch on the 9th through 11th holes. Wakabayashi had been in with a 70--I'm assuming she was DQed for signing a scorecard with a lower score than she actually shot. Hyun-Ju Shin is the only other top-20 player to be skipping this event. She's not going to Europe at all, but maybe she's resting before the Kagome Philanthropy LPGA Players Championship, which is not an official major but boasts the 3rd-highest purse on the JLPGA, 130 million yen, behind the LPGA-co-sponsored Mizuno Classic and the Japan Women's Open. If so, I'm not sure I understand her logic. Everyone else made a different decision except Yokomine.

As for this week, I expect Ji-Hee Lee, Ayako Uehara, and Hiroko Yamaguchi to build on their strong starts. I have my doubts about Campbell and Fujii being there Sunday. And I wonder who among those at +1 or better will make a big move over the final 36 holes....]

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