Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daikin Orchid Ladies Saturday: Mitsuka Leads Uehara by 2

Scoring conditions for the second round of the Daikin Orchid Ladies JLPGA kickoff event must not have been favorable, as many of the leaders from last round moved backwards today. Among them were Shinobu Moromizato, who appeared on the game show VS Arashi before the season's start, and Miho Koga, who got to play in the sand with SMAP:

Definitely go onto part 2 of this episode to see the putting challenge's finale!

Perhaps it's better to start the season flying a little below the media radar? If Yuko Mitsuka can put together another round as spectacular as her bogey-free 66, she'll be getting plenty of attention this season. The player with the best chance of spoiling the 3rd-year pro's 3rd career JLPGA win is Ayako Uehara (69), who probably will need to break 70 for the 3rd time in a row to do it. Even though she remained bogey-free on the back, she'll have to end the birdie drought that began there if she wants to chase down Mitsuka.

Here are the top 10 and notables:

1st/-8 Yuko Mitsuka (70-66)
2nd/-6 Ayako Uehara (69-69)
3rd/-4 Tamie Durdin (69-71)
4th/-3 Erina Hara (70-71)
T5/-2 Hiromi Mogi (74-68), Kuniko Maeda (73-69), Mamiko Higa (73-69), Miki Saiki (71-71), Akane Iijima (71-71), Mi-Jeong Jeon (70-72)

T11/-1 Yukari Baba (75-68), Yuri Fudoh (72-71), Miho Koga (71-72), Sakura Yokomine (68-75)
T16/E Midori Yoneyama (76-68), Yuko Saitoh (73-71), Mie Nakata (72-72), Nikki Campbell (71-73), Yuki Ichinose (71-73), Shinobu Moromizato (69-75), Bo-Bae Song (68-76)
T26/+1 Ji-Woo Lee (73-72), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-73), Hyun-Ju Shin (71-74)
T39/+2 Mai Arai (79-67), Rikako Morita (75-72), Chie Arimura (73-73)
T48/+3 Woo-Soon Ko (78-69), Saiki Fujita (75-72), Riko Higashio (75-72)

Great job by the living legend of the KLPGA Ko to make the cut. In addition, rookie Arai made the cut, despite making a double bogey early in her otherwise blemish-free round, by following it up with 5 birdies in her last 12 holes. Not as fortunate were many of the JLPGA's young guns, new guard, and veterans, including the following notables:

T57/+4 Yuki Sakurai (75-73)
T65/+5 Mayu Hattori (77-72)
T78/+7 Rui Kitada (75-76)
T88/+8 Kaori Higo (79-73), Yun-Jye Wei (77-75), Kumiko Kaneda (76-76), Hiroko Yamaguchi (75-77)
T94/+9 Esther Lee (81-72)

There's always next week--no, the next JLPGA event is opposite the LPGA's next, in 2 weeks--for these players. Those playing Sunday will have their work cut out for them to chase down Mitsuka, though. There are only 4 of them within 5 shots of her. If she doesn't come back to the field on the front, this could end up being a 2- or 3-golfer race down the stretch.

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