Sunday, August 17, 2008

NEC Karuizawa 72 Ladies Sunday: Erina Hara Shows Ya Ni Tseng How to Win Going Away

Ya Ni Tseng, please take note: Erina Hara just put on a clinic on how to run away with a tournament over at the NEC Karuizawa 72. Playing with her nearest competitors--although "nearest" is a relative term this week in particular--Hara immediately built on her 6-shot lead on Miho Koga and 7-shot lead on Akane Iijima with birdies on 4 of her 1st 6 holes, including 3 in a row from the 4th through the 6th. Hara kept the pedal to the metal over the last 12 holes even though the outcome was never in doubt. She posted a bogey-free 65 for a -21 total and a 7-shot victory.

Here are the final results for the top 10 and notables:

1st/-21 Hara (67-63-65)
2nd/-14 Ji-Hee Lee (69-69-64)
3rd/-12 Sakura Yokomine (72-67-65)
T4/-9 Hyun-Ju Shin (69-69-69), Rui Kitada (68-70-69)
T6/-8 Mi-Jeong Jeon (68-71-69), Mayu Hattori (71-68-69), Eun-A Lim (68-70-70)
T9/-7 Akiko Fukushima (69-72-68), Ji-Woo Lee (70-69-70), Chie Arimura (70-68-71), Iijima (69-68-72), Koga (67-69-73)

T19/-4 Hiromi Mogi (72-71-69), Na Zhang (72-69-71), Midori Yoneyama (74-67-71), Bo-Bae Song (69-69-74)
T23/-3 Nikki Campbell (71-72-70, Ayako Uehara (72-70-71)
T28/-2 Shinobu Moromizato (74-70-70), Michiko Hattori (73-71-70), Yuko Mitsuka (71-71-72)
T33/-1 Maiko Wakabayashi (73-70-72), Mie Nakata (73-67-75)
T40/E Kaori Higo (72-72-72)
T44/+1 Esther Lee (75-68-74)

Ji-Hee Lee tried to make things interesting when she matched Hara's outgoing 32, but could only make up 1 stroke on the winner even after shooting another 32 on the way in. Still, her solo 2nd at -14 enabled her to make up a little ground on the JLPGA's money-list-leader Akiko Fukushima (who got to -9 with an eagle on the par-5 16th but promptly gave it back with a double on the par-3 17th). Another player happy with her finish is Sakura Yokomine, who fired a bogey-free 65 of her own to take the bronze at -12. Watch out for her the rest of the season, starting with her title defense next week at the CAT Ladies.

But today is Hara's day. She is the 1st on the JLPGA to go into the minus-20s this season. (In fact, Lee's 2nd-place total would have been enough to win every other tournament this season, except for the 1st week when Bo-Bae Song matched it; few winners have even matched Yokomine's 3rd-place total.) Hara now has as many career wins as fellow JLPGA Super Sophs Miki Saiki, Yuko Mitsuka, and Bo-Bae Song, but where Saiki is slumping badly, Mitsuka has struggled in 3 of her last 4 events, and Song hasn't cracked the top 15 in a month, Hara is riding a wave of top 10s (6 in her last 7 events) and top 20s (13 of her last 17 events). She's now passed Mitsuka on the JLPGA money list:

1. Akiko Fukushima ¥80.67M
2. Ji-Hee Lee ¥64.43M
3. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥62.75M
4. Miho Koga ¥55.39M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥51.19M
6. Ayako Uehara ¥48.98M
7. Erina Hara ¥45.12M
8. Yuko Mitsuka ¥43.98M
9. Eun-A Lim ¥43.88M
10. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥41.25M
11. Shiho Oyama ¥41.12M
12. Shinobu Moromizato ¥40.04M
13. Bo-Bae Song ¥39.14M
14. Yukari Baba ¥38.80M
15. Chie Arimura ¥38.36M
16. Akane Iijima ¥37.01M
17. Yuri Fudoh ¥36.37M
18. Hiromi Mogi ¥36.27M
19. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥34.32M
20. Miki Saiki ¥33.52M
21. Ji-Woo Lee ¥28.24M
22. Esther Lee ¥23.01M
23. Midori Yoneyama ¥21.03M
24. Momoko Ueda ¥18.62M
25. Na Zhang ¥18.06M

Less than a month away from the JLPGA's 2nd major, Hara definitely has to be considered one of the favorites. The next few weeks should be very interesting on the JLPGA!

So Hara has shown Tseng how to rout your opponents. Can Tseng do the same to Se Ri Pak, Lorena Ochoa, and Katherine Hull later today?

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