With the leaders still on the course, the CAT Ladies JLPGA event is coming down to the wire. Mi-Jeong Jeon and 1st-round leader Yuko Mitsuka tied 2nd-round leader Miho Koga at -9 when they birdied the par-5 13th hole. Koga bogeyed 2 of 3 holes in the middle of the front to open the door for her chase pack, but few others have made or sustained a concerted move.
Yasuko Satoh made 4 birdies on the front but only picked up 2 shots on Koga, as she went double bogey-bogey in the same stretch on which the leader struggled. She's -7 with 2 to play. Sakura Yokomine was there after a 33 on the front, but 2 bogeys on the back dropped her out of contention. And mistakes have limited the ground Ji-Hee Lee has made up on Koga, as she's all-but-offset 4 birdies with 3 bogeys and finds herself 3 back with 4 to play.
Still, they're doing better than most of the field. Playing in the final threesome, Saiki Fujita knocked herself out of contention by going +5 in her 1st 13 holes, matching the LPGA's Momoko Ueda (+5 through 16), who's going to endure her 2nd straight disappointing finish on the JLPGA to go along with Ai Miyazato's 2 straight missed cuts on the LPGA. A bitter August for 2 of Japan's finest women golfers.
The only players really happy with their rounds today thus far are Ji-Woo Lee, the leader in the clubhouse at -5 after recovering with 4 birdies in her final 7 holes to salvage a 72, and Bo-Bae Song, who fired a solid 70 to get to -2 and a tie for 14th so far.
More when the final round is complete.
[Update 1 (4:38 am): I should have mentioned that Mayu Hattori is another player who put herself in contention early, getting to -7 with a birdie on the par-3 5th hole, but she also faltered as she hit the back, making 3 straight bogeys to fall off the pace. And Ji-Hee Lee made 2 bogeys down the stretch to fall out of contention a bit later. Mitsuka's own pair came a little later, with the killer coming on the par-3 17th. So it came down to a face-off at the finish between Mi-Jeong Jeon and Miho Koga, who had been making pars since Koga's birdie on the 10th and Jeon's on the 13th. Playing in the penultimate pairing, Jeon was the 1st to close out her round, but she made her 1st bogey since the 4th hole on the par-5 18th. Koga followed up with a clutch par to secure her 2nd victory of season.
1st/-9 Koga (69-68-73)
2nd/-8 Jeon (69-71-71)
3rd/-7 Mitsuka (66-73-73)
4th/-6 Ji-Hee Lee (73-68-72), Satoh (71-70-72)
T6/-5 Ji-Woo Lee (68-74-72), Hyun-Ju Shin (72-69-73), Yuko Saitoh (72-69-73)
T9/-4 Mumi Ohkubo (72-71-72), Yokomine (71-71-73), Hattori (72-69-74)
12th/-3 Esther Lee (73-70-73)
T13/-2 Song (76-71-70), Midori Yoneyama (71-73-73), Hiromi Mogi (75-68-74)
T19/E Chie Arimura (72-69-78), Mie Nakata (69-72-78)
T23/+1 Eun-A Lim (74-72-74), Miki Saiki (73-73-74)
T29/+2 Ayako Uehara (73-74-74), Maiko Wakabayashi (73-72-76), Ueda (72-70-79)
T34/+3 Yun-Jye Wei (76-71-75), Kaori Higo (72-72-78)
T40/+4 Akane Iijima (71-76-76), Erina Hara (73-73-77)
T44/+5 Ritsuko Ryu (76-70-78)
48th/+6 Hiroko Yamaguchi (70-74-81)]
[Update 2 (8:22 am): So here's how the new money list looks:
1. Akiko Fukushima ￥80.67M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ￥68.91M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ￥68.28M
4. Miho Koga ￥67.99M
5. Sakura Yokomine ￥52.68M
6. Ayako Uehara ￥49.52M
7. Yuko Mitsuka ￥48.88M
8. Erina Hara ￥45.52M
9. Eun-A Lim ￥44.51M
10. Hyun-Ju Shin ￥43.70M
11. Shiho Oyama ￥41.12M
12. Bo-Bae Song ￥40.26M
13. Shinobu Moromizato ￥40.04M
14. Chie Arimura ￥39.07M
15. Yukari Baba ￥38.80M
16. Akane Iijima ￥37.41M
17. Hiromi Mogi ￥37.39M
18. Yuri Fudoh ￥36.37M
19. Hiroko Yamaguchi ￥34.63M
20. Miki Saiki ￥34.14M
21. Ji-Woo Lee ￥30.73M
22. Esther Lee ￥24.27M
23. Midori Yoneyama ￥22.15M
24. Momoko Ueda ￥19.17M
25. Na Zhang ￥18.06M
Maybe Ueda will stick around for a few more JLPGA events heading into major season. With 2 weeks off on the LPGA and 2 small-purse events in September, she wouldn't miss much if she missed both August and September in the States. But what an unproductive start for her. It's clear there's a real Big 4 in 2008 that she just can't catch. As for the rest, well, she'll need to win a few. We'll see!]