Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ricoh Cup Sunday: And Down the Stretch It's...

...not Bo-Bae Song who's leading the field in the final round of the final event of the JLPGA schedule, the final major of 2008, the Tour Championship Ricoh Cup. No, a double bogey on the easy par-5 11th hole just dropped Song to +2 through 11 holes today and -3 for the tournament, tied for 4th with Shinobu Moromizato (-3 through 14), Ji-Woo Lee (-3 through 13), Miho Koga (-1 through 13), and Akiko Fukushima (E through 13). Nor is it Momoko Ueda, who remains 1 shot behind Song thanks to a birdie-less 38 on the front. It's not Yuko Mitsuka, either, although she has pulled into 3rd at -4 thanks to a -2 start through the 13th. And it's not Yuri Fudoh, alone in 2nd at -5 after playing bogey-free -2 golf through her 1st 12 holes.

That leaves Mi-Jeong Jeon, who's -3 through her 1st 12 holes and -6 for the tournament, as the leader of the pack heading into the home stretch, which features 2 birdie holes in the part-5 13th and par-4 17th and a whole lot of trouble otherwise. Jeon parred her 1st 7 holes but got going with a birdie on the tough par-3 8th and followed it up with birdies on the next 2 par 5s, the 9th and 11th holes, to vault ahead of Fudoh and Mitsuka, who matched her bogey-free 34 on the front.

Will Jeon play the next few holes like Moromizato, who followed up birdies on 10 and 11 with birdies on 13 and 14? Or will she stumble like Sakura Yokomine, who fell back to E on the day and for the tournament with consecutive bogeys on the 13th and 14th? We'll just have to wait until the JLPGA lifts its online leaderboard freeze to find out!

[Update 1 (7:20 pm): Sorry for the delay. Had to get back from Grandma and Grandpa's house! You'll never believe who won this and how!

Jeon did play the 13th and 14 exactly like Moromizato. Her pair of birdies got her to -8. When Fudoh followed up a birdie on 13 with a bogey on 15, Jeon's lead seemed commanding--3 on Fudoh and 4 on Mitsuka and Fukushima. And then when Mitsuka also bogeyed 15 and Fukushima bogeyed 16--and Song bogeyed 15, as well, to drop to -2, Jeon's only threat seemed to be Fudoh. Even though Miho Koga had birdied 8, 13, and 14 to get to -4, it seemed too little, too late. But then Koga birdied 17 and 18, Fudoh birdied 17, and Jeon bogeyed 17. All of a sudden, she stood at -7, only 1 shot up on Fudoh and Koga. So of course Fudoh bogeyed 18 and Jeon doubled it to hand the victory to Koga! And of course I'm too late with this update to catch the Kyodo News feed with the details!]

[Update 2 (7:47 pm): Here are the complete results:

1st/-6 Koga (73-71-70-68)
T2/-5 Fudoh (72-73-68-70), Jeon (71-71-71-70)
T4/-3 Moromizato (72-70-74-69), Mitsuka (71-74-69-71), Fukushima (72-70-71-72)
T7/-2 Ji-Woo Lee (76-73-67-70), Ueda (74-69-69-74), Song (69-71-71-75)
10th/-1 Ji-Hee Lee (71-74-72-70)

T11/E Yukari Baba (72-75-73-68), Sakura Yokomine (73-75-68-72)
13th/+1 Saiki Fujita (77-73-70-69)
T14/+3 Eun-A Lim (74-74-71-72), Rui Kitada (74-73-72-72)
16th/+4 Ji-Yai Shin (71-75-72-74)
T17/+5 Midori Yoneyama (74-73-74-71), Erina Hara (72-75-73-72)
19th/+6 Hiromi Mogi (73-71-75-75)
T20/+7 Esther Lee (75-72-74-74), Akane Iijima (72-76-71-76)
T22/+8 Mayu Hattori (77-75-71-73), Chie Arimura (73-77-73-73), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-73-75-74)
25th/+10 Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-75-73-76)
26th/+11 Ayako Uehara (76-71-80-72)
27th/+13 Hyun-Ju Shin (76-77-73-75)

Wow, what a sad finish for the JLPGA's Korean contingent. Not only did both Jeon and Song blow great chances for the win, exhaustion clearly got the best of Ji-Yai Shin and injuries of Hyun-Ju Shin. But what a great win for Koga! Not only did she tie Yuri Fudoh for the most wins on tour in 2008, she passed both Yokomine and Ji-Hee Lee to win the money title, as well!]

[Update 3 (7:59 pm): Here's the final 2008 money list:

1. Miho Koga ¥120.85M
2. Ji-Hee Lee ¥119.65M
3. Sakura Yokomine ¥103.19M
4. Akiko Fukushima ¥96.50M
5. Yuri Fudoh ¥91.86M
6. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥90.85M
7. Yuko Mitsuka ¥83.56M
8. Shiho Oyama ¥75.04M
9. Eun-A Lim ¥73.41M
10. Erina Hara ¥65.87M
11. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥64.63M
12. Shinobu Moromizato ¥64.37M
13. Bo-Bae Song ¥63.47M
14. Ayako Uehara ¥63.31M
15. Mayu Hattori ¥58.72M
16. Esther Lee ¥54.94M
17. Momoko Ueda ¥54.62M
18. Hiromi Mogi ¥52.62M
19. Akane Iijima ¥51.40M
20. Miki Saiki ¥50.84M
21. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥50.06M
22. Ji-Woo Lee ¥47.63M
23. Chie Arimura ¥47.35M
24. Ji-Yai Shin ¥45.54M
25. Midori Yoneyama ¥45.29M
26. Yukari Baba ¥44.14M
27. Hiroko Yamaguchi ¥42.85M
28. Rui Kitada ¥36.34M
29. Saiki Fujita ¥31.72M
30. Yun-Jye Wei ¥29.63M
31. Mie Nakata ¥28.33M
32. Ai Miyazato ¥27.89M
33. Nikki Campbell ¥27.04M
34. Yuko Saitoh ¥25.87M
35. So-Hee Kim ¥24.89M

Good thing for Koga the 1st prize was 30 million yen and not 25 million as I thought!]


John said...

Koga defends title as Fudo blows it again

MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) Miho Koga benefited from another late meltdown by Yuri Fudo to successfully defend the season-ending Japan LPGA Tour Championship on Sunday, clinching the money rankings title in the process.

Koga overturned a five-shot deficit to beat Fudo by two shots here last year and the 26-year-old was unable to conceal her shock as Fudo lost the plot again on the 18th to hand Koga her fourth title of the season.

Koga leapfrogged South Korean Lee Ji Hee and Sakura Yokomine to finish top of the money list for the first time after a 4-under-par 68 saw her win the 11th tournament of her career with a 6-under 282 total.

Fudo finished a shot back alongside South Korea's Jeon Mi Jeong, who was also guilty of squandering a great chance to claim the ¥25 million winner's check.

Teeing off three shots off the pace, Koga made four birdies against two bogeys before finishing her round with birdies on the 17th and 18th at Miyazaki Country Club.

But she was forced to endure a nervous wait as the drama unfolded with Fudo and Jeon still on the course.

Jeon saw her lead cut when she bogeyed after finding the trees on the 17th and then got into trouble in a bunker and double-bogeyed the 18th to blow her chance of the title.

Fudo was then left with the routine task of finding the cup from just under four feet for birdie on the last but was left to rue what might have been as the six-time money title winner made a hash of it and three-putted for bogey.

"This feels like a miracle," said Koga, who could not bring herself to watch Fudo on the 18th green. "I feel like there was some other force at work out there. I am so lucky."

"I did my best in the belief that I would be able to turn the deficit around and win but I really didn't actually think it would happen. I have never felt so excited in my life and this has not sunk in yet," she added.

John said...

Click on the link for highlights of the final hole.