Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ricoh Cup Saturday: Bo-Bae Song Hangs onto the Lead

2nd-round leader Bo-Bae Song fought back for her 2nd-straight 71 today in the JLPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup, but is hanging onto the lead by her fingernails, as Momoko Ueda fired her 2nd-straight 69. And right behind Ueda are the rest of the JLPGA's finest who took advantage of moving day:

1st/-5 Song (69-71-71)
2nd/-4 Ueda (74-69-69)
T3/-3 Yuri Fudoh (72-73-68), Akiko Fukushima (72-70-71), Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-71-71)
T6/-2 Yuko Mitsuka (71-74-69), Miho Koga (73-71-70)
T8/E Ji-Woo Lee (76-73-67), Sakura Yokomine (73-75-68), Shinobu Moromizato (72-70-74)

11th/+1 Ji-Hee Lee (71-74-72)
12th/+2 Ji-Yai Shin (71-75-72)
T13/+3 Eun-A Lim (74-74-71), Akane Iijima (72-76-71), Rui Kitada (74-73-72), Hiromi Mogi (73-71-75)
T17/+4 Saiki Fujita (77-73-70), Erina Hara (72-75-73), Yukari Baba (72-75-73)
T20/+5 Esther Lee (75-72-74), Midori Yoneyama (74-73-74)
T22/+6 Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-75-73), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-73-75)
T24/+7 Mayu Hattori (77-75-71), Chie Arimura (73-77-73)
26th/+10 Hyun-Ju Shin (76-77-73)
27th/+11 Ayako Uehara (76-71-80)

Ueda and Jeon outplayed Song on the long par 3s today--they both are -2 for the tournament on them, while Song dipped to E. What allowed Song to keep the lead was her performance on the short par 4s: she birdied 3 of the shortest 4 of them to make up for her uncharacteristic merely E performance on the par 5s.

Even though the last 6 holes remained tough--Fukushima was +2 on them after an eagle on the par-5 11th had lifted her briefly into a tie for the lead at -5--Mitsuka played them in -3 and Ji-Yai Shin, Yokomine, Fudoh, and Ueda played them in -2. As a result, we saw much lower scores on the back than in the 1st 2 rounds: Yokomine and Fudoh shot bogey-free 32s and Mitsuka and Shin bogey-free 33s. Of the players who made big moves on moving day, Ji-Woo Lee, who birdied 4 in a row on the front on her way to a 32, was the only one not to make a big move on the back.

For Song to hold on for a wire-to-wire win would be an amazing way to end her season. But if anyone from way back is able to make a charge on the front and Song is unable to respond between the 9th and 13th, this could be almost anyone's tournament for the taking over its last 5 holes. Half the field still has an outside chance of chasing Song down, while the 6 players 3 or fewer strokes down are well within striking range. Should be a compelling final round!

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