Sunday, October 5, 2008

Japan Women's Open Sunday: 3 Separate 5 with 5 to Go!

Ji-Hee Lee is -5 through her 1st 13 holes in the final round of the Japan Women's Open and at -4 for the tournament has opened up a 1-shot lead on Ai Miyazato and a 2-shot lead on Yuri Fudoh, both of whom are -4 through 14. 2nd- and 3rd-round leader Esther Lee is still very much in this, as is So-Hee Kim, as both are -1 through 13 to stay within 2 and 3 shots of the leader, respectively. More soon!

[Update 1 (1:49 am): Although Nikki Campbell is hanging tough at E with 4 holes to play, the rest of the field has fallen off the lead pack's pace today. Akane Iijima is a disappointing +3 over her 1st 13 holes today to fall back into a tie at +2 with Namika Omata (-2 through 16), Momoko Ueda and Sakura Yokomine (-1 through 15), and Midori Yoneyama (E through 14).]

[Update 2 (1:54 am): There have been some very nice moves up the leaderboard from back in the pack, however.

67: Shiho Oyama (+4, T13 so far)
68: Yui Kawahara (+3, 12th)
69: Kurumi Dohi (+5, T17), Tomoko Kusakabe (+11, 34th)
70: Bo-Bae Song and Ji-Woo Lee (+4, T13), Shinobu Moromizato (+5, T17), Hiroko Yamaguchi (+6, T22)

Fudoh just parred the 15th, but Lee bogeyed the 14th. Now Campbell is within 3 shots of the co-leaders, Lee and Miyazato!]

[Update 3 (1:55 am): Omata birdied the 17th to get to +1 for the tournament and -3 on her day, still not out of it.]

[Update 4 (1:56 am): But Kim's bogey on the 14th to join her does not help her cause.]

[Update 5 (1:59 am): Momo-chan bogeyed the 16th to fall to +3 for the tournament and E for the day. With a medium-length par 4 and par 5 to go, it's too late for her to leapfrog the 10 players ahead of her, no matter how badly they do down the stretch.]

[Update 6 (2:02 am): Pars on 15 for Ji-Hee Lee and Miyazato, on the 16th for Fudoh, and on the 14th for Esther Lee.]

[Update 7 (2:08 am): By the way, I should clarify that the pairings for the final twosomes are, in reverse order, Esther Lee and Akane Iijima, Ji-Hee Lee and So-Hee Kim, Ai Miyazato and Nikki Campbell, Yuri Fudoh and Midori Yoneyama, and Momoko Ueda and Sakura Yokomine. Not too shabby, eh? Yokomine parred 17, while Yoneyama joined Fudoh in parring the 400-yard par-4 16th.]

[Update 8 (2:15 am): Miyazato and Campbell both parred the 16th, which is the longest par 4 on the course. Now it's Ji-Hee Lee's turn on it. Meanwhile, Ueda 1st birdied the 17th and then Fudoh did. We now have a 3-way tie at -3! Namika Omata is the leader in the clubhouse after her 69 brought her to +1 on the tournament. But with Campbell's recent birdie to get to -1, we now have 5 players with at least a 2-shot cushion on her and only a few holes left to play.]

[Update 9 (2:21 am): Ji-Hee Lee parred the tough 16th to remain tied at -3 with Fudoh and Miyazato. So-Hee Kim did, too, for what it's worth. But get this: Esther Lee birdied the 15th to make it a 4-way tie for the lead! On the moral victory front, Yokomine (70) birdied the par-5 18th to finish a stroke ahead of Ueda (71) and tie Omata as leader in the clubhouse.]

[Update 10 (2:26 am): Next to play 18 were Fudoh and Yoneyama. The 3-time winner this season will need some help to get her 4th, as she bogeyed the 512-yard par 5. Yoneyama parred it to finish in a tie for 9th with Ueda. Meanwhile, Ai-chan and Campbell both parred the 17th, followed by Ji-Hee Lee, who matched them, and So-Hee Kim, who birdied it to get back to E for the tournament and alone in 6th place for now. So now Fudoh's -2 is the score to beat.]

[Update 11 (2:34 am): It took an unconscionably long time for the JWO site to update Esther Lee and Iijima on 16, but here's what they did. Lee bogeyed 16 to fall 1 behind her namesake and Ai-chan, but Iijima is now +7 on her day and +6 for the tournament (T20). Did Iijima just make a pair of doubles while her playing partner is trying to win the tournament? How awkward!]

[Update 12 (2:36 am): The wait to see how Miyazato and Campbell did on 18 was even worse for me, but they both parred it. Ji-Hee Lee can get her 2nd win of the season with a birdie on 18. Here's hoping Ai-chan gets a chance to beat her in a playoff!]

[Update 13 (2:41 am): Ji-Hee Lee did it! Unless Esther Lee can eagle the 18th, she's the winner of the 2008 Japan Women's Open, thanks to her clutch final-hole birdie!]

[Update 14 (3:03 am): And what a way to win, going 68-67 over the weekend! Nice birdie by her namesake to end her tournament on a high note, too.

Here are the final results:

1st/-4 Ji-Hee Lee (73-76-68-67)
T2/-3 Ai Miyazato (74-71-72-68), Esther Lee (68-73-74-70)
4th/-2 Yuri Fudoh (76-71-71-68)
T5/-1 Nikki Campbell (70-74-73-70), So-Hee Kim (71-74-71-74)
T7/+1 Namika Omata (74-75-71-69), Sakura Yokomine (77-74-68-70)
T9/+2 Momoko Ueda (73-74-72-71), Midori Yoneyama (76-71-71-72)

T12/+4 Shiho Oyama (72-79-74-67), Bo-Bae Song (75-74-73-70), Ji-Woo Lee (75-73-74-70), Ayako Uehara (74-73-73-72), Eun-A Lim (74-73-73-72)
T17/+5 Shinobu Moromizato (77-70-76-70), Akiko Fukushima (72-73-76-72)
T20/+6 Hiroko Yamaguchi (76-76-72-70), Erina Hara (75-73-74-72), Yuko Mitsuka (74-75-72-73)
T24/+8 Rui Kitada (74-74-73-75), Yuki Ichinose (74-72-74-76), Akane Iijima (75-71-69-81)
T28/+9 Mie Nakata (71-76-78-72), Maiko Wakabayashi (71-72-80-74)
T35/+12 Mi-Jeong Jeon (78-74-73-75)
T39/+13 Miho Koga (77-75-71-78)
T41/+14 Kaori Higo (76-72-80-74)
46th/+15 Chie Arimura (77-77-75-74)
T52/+18 Saiki Fujita (77-78-74-77)
T56/+19 Miki Saiki (76-77-77-77)
60th/+21 Yukari Baba (75-77-80-77)

Wonder how Jeon, Koga, and Saiki will bounce back from these huge setbacks.]

[Update 15 (4:10 am): Here's the money list after the results from the 2nd-richest purse of the season have been factored in:

1. Ji-Hee Lee ¥98.74M
2. Akiko Fukushima ¥84.29M
3. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥73.51M
4. Miho Koga ¥73.34M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥72.13M
6. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥64.20M
7. Yuri Fudoh ¥58.82M
8. Erina Hara ¥58.28M
9. Yuko Mitsuka ¥56.01M
10. Ayako Uehara ¥53.97M
11. Eun-A Lim ¥47.99M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥47.98M
13. Shinobu Moromizato ¥47.41M
14. Akane Iijima ¥45.96M
15. Shiho Oyama ¥44.51M
16. Momoko Ueda ¥43.87M
17. Esther Lee ¥43.71M
18. Chie Arimura ¥40.90M
19. Hiromi Mogi ¥40.14M
20. Yukari Baba ¥40.08M
21. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥39.77M
22. Miki Saiki ¥37.42M
23. Ji-Woo Lee ¥36.26M
24. Midori Yoneyama ¥32.52M
25. Rui Kitada ¥30.40M
26. Saiki Fujita ¥27.27M
27. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥24.53M
28. Ji-Yai Shin ¥24.18M
29. Mayu Hattori ¥22.88M
30. Yuko Saitoh ¥22.74M

We have a new #1! Also making big moves were Fudoh, Esther Lee, and Miyazato (all the way up to #40, right behind Nikki Campbell).]

[Update 16 (6:12 am): Kyodo News finally gets on the ball with their final-round story. Here are relevant excerpts:

While four players shared the lead at one point, Fudo took a dent in her bid for a second Japan Women's Open when she pulled her drive and needed five shots to reach the 18th green en route to a bogey 6.

Minutes after Fudo wrapped up her round, Esther Lee struggled to get out of trouble on the 16th, where she hit into two bunkers and wound up with a bogey. She birdied the last but the recovery proved short of bringing her a first career win in Japan.

Miyazato, the 2005 Japan Women's Open champion who went 4-under for the day through 13 holes, held steady late in her round and parred out the final five holes. But she was left to rue her failure to create a birdie opportunity on the last after her approach with a wedge left her with a long downhill putt.

Also on the 18th, Lee Ji Hee hit her drive into the nasty rough left of the dog-leg fairway and bailed herself out by playing with a superb intentional hook. She then put the proper end to the shot and subsequent deft approach with the winning [15-foot] putt.

"I thought at the time that it would be alright only if I can find a better place to hit a third shot," she said of her second shot on the 18th. "And I thought I definitely needed to make the putt to win. I read the line pretty well and I hit it very solidly."

Wonder if, after coming so close to her 1st win since 2006, Ai-chan will reconsider taking that flight to CA to compete in the Longs Drugs Challenge at Blackhawk CC. After all, she skipped the event her rookie season to compete in Japan and played terribly while hurt there last season. On the other hand, she can't afford to slip any further down the second-half ADT Championship qualification list....]