Saturday, November 22, 2008

Daio Paper ElleAir Ladies Saturday: Yokomine's (Next-to-) Last Stand

It's not like Sakura Yokomine has been having a terrible 2008: even though she hasn't won all season, she's 4th on the money list and has the 2nd-best scoring average and birdie rate of all the JLPGA regulars. But she has a chance to turn an ok season into a good one in a few hours, as she's leaped to the lead in the Daio Paper ElleAire Ladies event in Shikoku this week with a tournament-best 68. Still, at -5, she only has a 1-shot lead on amateur Kumiko Kaneda, who shot her 2nd straight 70, a 2-shot lead on Yuko Mitsuka, Akane Iijima, Midori Yoneyama, Yun-Jye Wei, and 2 others, and a 3-shot lead on Ai Miyazato, Ji-Hee Lee, Miki Saiki, Esther Lee, and 3 others.

Here are the top 10 and notables:

1st/-5 Yokomine (71-68)
2nd/-4 Kaneda (70-70)
T3/-3 Mitsuka (71-70), Yoneyama (71-70), Michie Ohba (70-71), Iijima (69-72), Wei (69-72), Junko Omote (69-72)
T9/-2 Miyazato (73-69), Ji-Hee Lee (72-70), Saiki (72-70), Mumi Ohkubo (72-70), Natsu Nagai (71-71), Esther Lee (70-72), Yuki Ichinose (70-72)

Yokomine is fortunate to have such a large lead on so many people playing well of late:

T16/-1 Ayako Uehara (71-72)
T21/E Mayu Hattori (75-69), Eun-A Lim (74-70), Tamie Durdin (72-72)
T25/+1 Momoko Ueda (74-71)
T28/+2 Yukari Baba (76-70), Bo-Bae Song (75-71), Erina Hara (74-72), Maiko Wakabayashi (74-72), Mie Nakata (74-72), Moromizato (72-74)
T35/+3 Chie Arimura (75-72), Riko Higashio (75-72), Hiromi Mogi (74-73), Ji-Woo Lee (74-73), Sakurako Mori (72-75)
T44/+4 Yuki Sakurai (75-73), Akiko Fukushima (73-75)

But at least they made the cut. Last week's winner and #2 on the money list missed the cut, as did the soon-to-be-formerly top-ranked player on the JLPGA:

T51/+5 Saiki Fujita (76-73), Miho Koga (75-74), Rui Kitada (75-74)
T70/+8 Mi-Jeong Jeon (75-77), Hiroko Yamaguchi (75-77), Ritsuko Ryu (75-77)
T90/+12 Kaori Higo (76-80)

Once again, Ai-chan is in the hunt for her 1st win anywhere since 2006. Can she chase down Yokomine, Kaneda, and Mitsuka, and outrace Ji-Hee Lee? Or will someone else step up to take Yokomine's 1st title of 2008 away from her?

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