Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open Sunday: Ueda Outlasts Yokomine and Mitsuka

Wow, what a finish at the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open today on the JLPGA! Sakura Yokomine had yet another great chance to win her 1st tournament of the year, but instead she lost another heartbreaker, this time to the LPGA's own Momoko Ueda, who notched her 2nd win in only her 7th event on tour this season.

This week represented redemption for Ueda, who passed up a great chance to win last week with a final-hole bogey that dropped her back into a playoff with eventual winner Yuri Fudoh. It didn't take long for Ueda to chase down Yokomine down today, making 4 birdies to shoot a 33 on the front and join the 2nd-round leader at -5. Yuko Mitsuka, playing in the final threesome with Yokomine, was next to get to -5 after making her 3rd birdie in 4 holes on the long par-3 11th hole. Ueda, playing in the threesome ahead of her co-leaders, had briefly taken the lead at -6 with a birdie on the very same hole, but gave it back with a bogey on the very next hole, a medium-length par 4. Ueda and Yokomine both went par-birdie-bogey over the next 3 holes while Mitsuka parred each of them to remain at -5. The 16th hole was the key turning point on the back 9, as Ueda first parred the medium-length par-4 and Yokomine and Mitsuka proceeded to bogey it. Ueda didn't let her 1-shot lead slip this time, as she parred the 17th and 18th and watched Mitsuka fail to make a birdie (and end up tied with Akane Iijima and Julie Lu, who made late charges to climb to -4) and Yokomine bogey the 18th (to slip back into a tie for 5th with Miki Saiki).

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

1st/-5 Ueda (70-72-69)
T2/-4 Iijima (74-69-69), Mitsuka (71-70-71), Lu (69-71-72)
T5/-3 Saiki (72-70-71), Yokomine (70-69-74)
T7/-1 Yumiko Yoshida (72-78-65), Chieko Amanuma (74-69-72)
T9/E Shinobu Moromizato (71-76-69), Mie Nakata (70-75-71), So-Hee Kim (71-73-72)

Nice weekend by Iijima, Mitsuka, and Saiki, and a great week for Lu, Yoshida, and Amanuma. Lu, a 2-time JLPGA winner whose last victory came in 2004, made more birdies than anyone in the field this week and accounted well for herself during her 1st time in contention this season. Amanuma was only 2 shots off the lead with 4 left to play. And Yoshida only shot the low round of the week by 4 shots!

T12/+1 Shiho Oyama (74-74-69), Nikki Campbell (69-78-70), Akiko Fukushima (71-73-73), Esther Lee (74-70-73)
19th/+2 Mayu Hattori (70-74-74)
T20/+3 Saiki Fujita (72-76-71)
T30/+5 Erina Hara (76-74-71), Maiko Wakabayashi (76-74-71), Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-75-72)
T36/+6 Kaori Higo (73-76-73)
T43/+8 Ayako Uehara (76-74-74), Yukari Baba (71-79-74)
T48/+9 Tamie Durdin (73-78-75), Riko Higashio (76-74-75)
T58/+12 Chie Arimura (75-73-80)

It'll be interesting to see how Fukushima, Hara, Uehara, and Oyama in particular deal with this week's disappointing results.

Here's the new money list:

1. Akiko Fukushima ¥82.89M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥72.67M
3. Miho Koga ¥72.54M
4. Ji-Hee Lee ¥70.74M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥68.21M
6. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥64.20M
7. Erina Hara ¥57.08M
8. Yuko Mitsuka ¥54.81M
9. Ayako Uehara ¥52.15M
10. Yuri Fudoh ¥51.83M
11. Eun-A Lim ¥46.18M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥46.17M
13. Shinobu Moromizato ¥46.01M
14. Akane Iijima ¥44.83M
15. Shiho Oyama ¥42.69M
16. Momoko Ueda ¥41.00M
17. Chie Arimura ¥40.19M
18. Hiromi Mogi ¥40.14M
19. Yukari Baba ¥39.55M
20. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥38.57M
21. Miki Saiki ¥36.84M
22. Ji-Woo Lee ¥34.44M
23. Esther Lee ¥30.61M
24. Midori Yoneyama ¥29.65M
25. Rui Kitada ¥29.33M
26. Saiki Fujita ¥26.65M
27. Ji-Yai Shin ¥24.18M
28. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥23.55M
29. Mayu Hattori ¥22.88M
30. Yuko Saitoh ¥21.98M

So heading into the JLPGA's 3rd major of the season, the Japan Women's Open, Momoko Ueda is one of the hottest golfers on tour, while Ji-Yai Shin, who's coming off her 2nd major victory on the KLPGA this week, is one of the hottest players on the planet. Shin is looking to win a major on every major professional tour this season (the Women's British Open covers both the LPGA and LET), while Ueda is looking to join Yuri Fudoh in the 3-time-winner-in-2008 circle. Meanwhile, the race for the money-list lead is tightening, as Akiko Fukushima has cooled off and Mi-Jeong Jeon, Miho Koga, Ji-Hee Lee, Sakura Yokomine, and Hyun-Ju Shin are rapidly making up ground on her. Ai Miyazato is looking for her 1st JLPGA win since her 14th came back in 2006, while Shiho Oyama and Miki Saiki are looking for their 1st of the season before heading to Florida in December to attempt to join Ai-chan and Momo-chan on the LPGA. And young guns like Erina Hara, Yuko Mitsuka, and Bo-Bae Song are looking to establish themselves firmly among the JLPGA's elite. Not too shabby!

[Update 1 (12:36 pm): Uh-oh! Shin's name doesn't appear on the newly-updated field list for the JWO! Looks like she'll be playing the Samsung World Championship after all.]

[Update 2 (11:15 pm): Here's the Kyodo story.]

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