1st-round leader Bo-Bae Song could only manage a 71 today in the JLPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup, but it was good enough to preserve her 2-shot lead on Mi-Jeong Jeon. Even though Akiko Fukushima (70) and Shinobu Moromizato (70) both moved within 2 and Momoko Ueda (69) leaped to within 3 of her lead, some of Song's top competitors fell off the pace, from Ji-Yai Shin and Sakura Yokomine (both 75s) to Ji-Hee Lee and Yuko Mitsuka (both 74s).
1st/-4 Song (69-71)
T2/-2 Fukushima (72-70), Moromizato (72-70), Jeon (71-71)
5th/-1 Ueda (74-69)
T6/E Miho Koga (73-71), Hiromi Mogi (73-71)
T8/+1 Yuri Fudoh (72-73), Ji-Hee Lee (71-74), Mitsuka (71-74)
11th/+2 Ji-Yai Shin (71-75)
T12/+3 Ayako Uehara (76-71), Esther Lee (75-72), Midori Yoneyama (74-73), Rui Kitada (74-73), Erina Hara (72-75), Yukari Baba (72-75)
T18/+4 Maiko Wakabayashi (75-73), Eun-A Lim (74-74), Yokomine (73-75), Akane Iijima (72-76)
T22/+5 Ji-Woo Lee (76-73), Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-75)
T24/+6 Saiki Fujita (77-73), Chie Arimura (73-77)
26th/+8 Mayu Hattori (77-75)
27th/+9 Hyun-Ju Shin (76-77)
Looking at the hole-by-hole scores, a few things stand out. While the 317-yard 17th is a birdie hole, the 400-yard 18th is very tough: Mogi and Mitsuka both doubled it, while Ji-Woo Lee tripled it. You also see a lot of bogeys on the 14th-16th holes. So while the last 6 holes start off easy--the par-5 13th is a definite birdie hole, particularly if you've gotten some momentum from birdies on the 9th and 11th, both easy par 5s--they provide a great test to anyone in contention on Sunday.
Where Song has distinguished herself so far, however, has been on the long, tough par 3s--the 5th, 8th, and 16th holes--which she's played at -1 thus far. Jeon and Ueda are E on them, but everyone else near the top of the leaderboard is over par on them.
This course can get you in so many ways, though. Fudoh actually had something going after a bad start, but bogeyed 3 of her last 4 holes. Ji-Yai Shin, by contrast, was +4 through 11 on today's round and couldn't make up much ground in her last 8 holes. Yokomine bogeyed 4 of her last 7 holes. And Jeon rode the birdie-bogey roller coaster again today, making 6 of the former and 5 of the latter. The only players to handle the back--Moromizato and Hattori, who both shot 34s--couldn't even go that low on it.
Whoever wins this thing will really earn it. If Song can put together a strong moving day and keep the pedal to the metal on the 1st 13 holes Sunday, she should be able to play conservatively the rest of the way and let the closing holes be her best defense. But she could just as easily fall back toward E tomorrow and open up a Sunday free-for-all. We'll know soon enough!