Saturday, September 20, 2008

Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic Saturday: Will the Big Names Please Step Up?

Parity has been the watchword on the JLPGA this year. Yuri Fudoh has 2 wins, but little else to show this season (outside of a fantastic Women's British Open). Sakura Yokomine and Shiho Oyama have yet to win. Clearly, fields are getting stronger and the gap between the tour's best and the rest is shrinking fast. Nothing exemplifies this more than the leaderboard as the 2nd round of the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic comes to a close. 1st-round co-leader Yokomine picked up where her final-hole bogey yesterday left off; she's 1-over on each side and with 1 hole to play has carded only 1 birdie all day today. At +2, she's now 6 shots behind leader Yayoi Arasaki, who birdied 5 of her last 10 holes for a sizzling 67 (behind only Bo-Bae Song's 65, which started off with a 30 on the back, and Kaori Aoyama's 66). Who is Arasaki? Well, she's a 6th-year pro having one of her best seasons on the JLPGA, but she currently sits at #68 on the money list, as a result of missing 13 cuts and only garnering 2 top 20s. But she has 18 holes to put all that behind her. Who can say for sure that the big names chasing her will be able to step up tomorrow?

[Update 1 (2:42 am): Take a look at the top 10 and notables for further evidence of a sea change in process on the JLPGA:

1st/-8 Arasaki (69-67)
2nd/-6 Namika Omata (69-69)
T3/-5 Ji-Hee Lee (69-70), Shinobu Moromizato (68-71)
T5/-4 Aki Takamura (71-69), Asako Fujimoto (71-69), Momoko Ueda (70-70)
T8/-3 Song (76-65), Eun-Hye Lee (73-68), Mayu Hattori (72-69), Yuko Saitoh (72-69), Ah-Reum Hwang (72-69), Yuko Mitsuka (71-70), Fudoh (71-70), Miho Koga (70-71), Hiroko Yamaguchi (69-72)

T17/-2 Ji-Woo Lee (72-70), Yuki Sakurai (72-70), Yokomine (68-74)
T20/-1 Hiromi Mogi (76-67), Akane Iijima (73-70)
T28/E Tamie Durdin (74-70), Ayako Uehara (72-72), Mie Nakata (72-72), Midori Yoneyama (72-72), Erina Hara (71-73)
T45/+2 Kaori Higo (74-72), Mi-Jeong Jeon (72-74)

Also striking is how many top 30 players missed the cut this week:

T62/+4 Yuki Ichinose (78-70), Rui Kitada (76-72), Yukari Baba (75-73)
T74/+5 Maiko Wakabayashi (76-73), Esther Lee (75-74)
T82/+6 Yun-Jye Wei (80-70)
T91/+9 Chie Arimura (76-77)
T101/+12 Ritsuko Ryu (78-78)

Tomorrow represents a golden opportunity for Ji-Hee Lee and Momoko Ueda to make a charge. We'll see if they--or anyone else in the top 30--can do it!]

[Update 2 (2:51 am): Lee would be in a lot better position if she hadn't suffered a double bogey on the par-4 14th in the midst of a birdie barrage. Koga also came back to the field after getting to -5 at one point on the back. With Jeon struggling and Akiko Fukushima, Hyun-Ju Shin, and Eun-A Lim not in the field, not to mention Yokomine, Hara, and Uehara dawdling, Mitsuka has a great chance to make up some ground on most of the rest of the top 10, and Moromizato and Song have as good a one to break back into it.]

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