Sunday, September 7, 2008

Golf 5 Ladies Sunday: Can Saiki Fujita Do It?

Yesterday I predicted a Ji-Yai Shin/Erina Hara shootout in the final round of the Golf 5 Ladies--and, as a fallback, suggested that Midori Yoneyama would be the player to watch if the 2nd-round leaders had as much trouble sustaining their momentum as the 1st-round leaders had. Well, Shin has followed up each of her 2 birdies in her 1st 12 holes with a bogey, the most recent coming on the par-3 12th, to remain at -10. And Yoneyama has charged past her to -11 for the tournament on the strength of 4 birdies between the 6th and 13th holes. Hara has been unable to find her 1st-round rhythm, but remains 2 shots back at -9.

But 2 players who went super-low yesterday are doing it again today. Amateur Kumiko Kaneda shot a 31 on the front to tie Shin at -10, but has reeled off 5 straight pars on the back to remain there. It's Saiki Fujita who's gone even further: a pair of birdies to start her round and another pair at the turn gave her the lead at -12. Her birdie on the par-3 12th triggered a 2-shot swing with Shin, enabling Fujita to extend her lead to 3 on the Women's British Open champion and 2 on Yoneyama as they entered the home stretch. Neither Fujita's career record--2 consecutive wins at the Promise Ladies in 2006 and 2007, which helped her to become a top 30 player in her sophomore and junior years on the JLPGA--nor her current-year results (2 WDs, 3 top 10s, 4 missed cuts, and 5 rounds in the 80s) suggest that she'll be able to hold on, but this is the year of parity on the JLPGA and that 2nd win has been difficult for most players to achieve.

In the race at the bottom of the leaderboard among those on the top of the money list, Akiko Fukushima continues to be stuck in neutral, E today and +1 for the tournament with only the 9th left to play. But Ji-Hee Lee is her only pursuer to have taken advantage today, firing a 69 that gets her to -5 and a likely top-20 finish. Miho Koga is +1 through 15 (-3 for the tournament) and Mi-Jeong Jeon could only manage a 72 to stay at -1 and give herself a chance for a top 30 finish.

More when the JLPGA lifts its web blackout!

[Update 1 (4:57 am): Fujita did it! A bogey-free 67 gave her a 2-shot victory over Ji-Yai Shin and Kumiko Kaneda. Here are the final results:

1st/-13 Fujita (70-66-67)
T2/-11 Kaneda (74-65-66), Shin (70-64-71)
T4/-9 Midori Yoneyama (69-68-70), Erina Hara (66-70-71)
T5/-8 Eun-Hye Lee (73-68-67), Hyun-Ju Shin (73-67-68), Mayu Hattori (69-70-69)
9th/-7 Hiromi Takesue (69-72-68)
T10/-6 Shinobu Moromizato (70-70-70), Bo-Bae Song (70-70-70), Rui Kitada (72-68-70), Hiromi Mogi (68-71-71), Eun-A Lim (71-64-75)

T15/-5 Ji-Hee Lee (74-68-69)
T18/-4 Shiho Oyama (70-72-70)
T20/-3 Akane Iijima (69-74-70)
T25/-2 Maiko Wakabayashi (71-73-70), Yun-Jye Wei (73-69-72)
T29/-1 Mi-Jeong Jeon (73-70-72), Yukari Baba (72-68-75)
T34/E Nikki Campbell (75-68-73), Miho Koga (71-69-76), Ji-Woo Lee (69-71-76)
T46/+3 Akiko Fukushima (73-72-74), Na Zhang (70-73-76)

Congratulations to Saiki Fujita on her 3rd career JLPGA victory!]

[Update 2 (5:10 am): And here's the new money list:

1. Akiko Fukushima ¥81.52M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥69.40M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥69.16M
4. Miho Koga ¥68.41M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥56.88M
6. Erina Hara ¥54.82M
7. Ayako Uehara ¥49.52M
8. Yuko Mitsuka ¥48.88M
9. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥46.20M
10. Eun-A Lim ¥46.18M
11. Shinobu Moromizato ¥42.04M
12. Shiho Oyama ¥41.85M
13. Bo-Bae Song ¥41.34M
14. Chie Arimura ¥39.47M
15. Yukari Baba ¥39.28M
16. Yuri Fudoh ¥38.70M
17. Hiromi Mogi ¥38.57M
18. Akane Iijima ¥37.99M
19. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥34.63M
20. Miki Saiki ¥34.14M
21. Ji-Woo Lee ¥31.15M
22. Rui Kitada ¥28.49M
23. Midori Yoneyama ¥26.54M
24. Saiki Fujita ¥26.14M
25. Esther Lee ¥24.27M
26. Mayu Hattori ¥20.27M
27. Momoko Ueda ¥19.17M
28. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥19.16M
29. Mie Nakata ¥18.85M
30. Na Zhang ¥18.34M

Ji-Yai Shin is #34, not counting her non-member winnings from the victory that earned her immediate JLPGA membership.]

[Update 3 (9/9/08, 12:52 pm): Courtesy of amaebirah at Seoul, here are some highlights from TV Tokyo.]

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