Saturday, October 25, 2008

Masters Golf Club Saturday: Ji-Hee Lee Leapfrogs Oyama

After a bogey-free opening round in the Masters Golf Club JLPGA event this week, Shiho Oyama stumbled to a birdie-less 75 today, which opened the door for the tour's leading money-winner in 2008, Ji-Hee Lee, to make up 6 shots on her despite a walk-off bogey that dropped Lee back to -5 for the tournament. But with 15 golfers within 5 shots of the leader--including such big names as Paula Creamer, Akiko Fukushima, and Shinobu Moromizato (E), Bo-Bae Song and Miki Saiki (-1), Mi-Jeong Jeon (-2), and Sakura Yokomine (-3)--tomorrow's round is shaping up to be a classic free-for-all.

1st/-5 Lee (70-69)
2nd/-4 Oyama (65-75)
T3/-3 Yokomine (70-71), Rui Kitada (70-71)
5th/-2 Jeon (70-72)
T6/-1 Yuki Sakurai (72-71), Ah-Reum Hwang (72-71), Saiki (71-72), Song (70-73)
T10/E Ji-Woo Lee (74-70), Creamer (73-71), Moromizato (73-71), Maiko Wakabayashi (73-71), Yuko Saitoh (73-71), Fukushima (72-72), Nikki Campbell (70-74)

Yokomine would be tied for the lead were it not for her back-to-back walk-off bogeys; Song's closing 39 dropped her from 1 back to 4 back; Sakurai's closing 38 dropped her from 2 back to 4 back.

Some nice comebacks there among the players fighting for top 20s:

T17/+1 Kumiko Kaneda (75-70), Eun-A Lim (74-71), Tamie Durdin (74-71), Midori Yoneyama (72-73)
T22/+2 Esther Lee (77-69), Momoko Ueda (76-70)
T25/+3 Hiromi Mogi (76-71), Yuko Mitsuka (75-72), Mie Nakata (74-73), Yuri Fudoh (73-74), Kaori Higo (73-74)
T35/+4 Mayu Hattori (76-72), Miho Koga (75-73), Yun-Jye Wei (73-75)
T41/+5 Hiroko Yamaguchi (72-77)
T49/+6 Yuki Ichinose (75-75), Ritsuko Ryu (71-79)

But Durdin's round could have been a lot better, as she closed with 3 straight bogeys and 4 in her last 5 holes. And Ueda went 33-37 for a disappointing 70.

Wow, a lot of good players missed the cut:

T58/+7 Erina Hara (77-74), Saiki Fujita (76-75)
T69/+8 Yukari Baba (80-72), Ayako Uehara (77-75)
T84/+10 Akane Iijima (77-77)
T95/+12 Chie Arimura (79-77), Riko Higashio (79-77)

Hara and Fujita both shot birdie-less 39s on the back, while Baba's comeback was stalled by bogeys on the 10th and 18th holes.

So it comes down to this: Ji-Hee Lee has a golden opportunity to extend her lead on the JLPGA money list with her 3rd win of the season. But Shiho Oyama and Sakura Yokomine have a great chance to notch their 1st wins in 2008. And if this trio falters, any number of players could leapfrog past them....

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