Mi-Jeong Jeon looked like she was on track to finish stronger today than the bogey and 12 pars she made to close out yesterday's round--quite a let-down from her 4-birdies-in-five-holes start to the Studio Alice Ladies Open--as she made birdies on the 6th and 11th holes to open up a 2-shot lead on Ai Miyazato, who could only manage a birdie and a bogey--quite a let-down from her 6-birdie Friday--through her 1st 14 holes. But even though Ai-chan held steady with an even-par round today, she still finds herself tied for the lead, as Jeon bogeyed 2 of her last 4 holes to drop back to -3.
Several players took advantage of the co-leaders' struggles to move into position to contend tomorrow. Yukari Baba's 68 (including the lowest score on the back in the tournament, a 33) lifted her to T11 at +1, where she joined Erina Hara (69) and Shinobu Moromizato (73), among many others; Eun-A Lim's 68 lifted her into a tie for 6th with Mie Nakata (72); and Da-Ye Na's 69 pulled her into a tie for 3rd with Bo-Bae Song (70) and 1st-round co-leader Rui Kitada (73), just 1 shot behind the co-leaders. Even though they didn't do anything special today, Ji-Hee Lee, Sakura Yokomine, and Hyun-Ju Shin are only 3 shots out of the lead.
Here are the top 10 and notables:
T1/-3 Mi-Jeong Jeon (69-72), Ai Miyazato (69-72)
T3/-2 Da-Ye Na (73-69), Bo-Bae Song (72-70), Rui Kitada (69-73)
T6/-1 Eun-A Lim (75-68), Mie Nakata (71-72)
T8/E Hyun-Ju Shin (73-71), Ji-Hee Lee (72-72), Sakura Yokomine (71-73)
In fact, given how tough the back is playing, I'd say anyone within 6 shots of the lead has a legitimate chance if they can break 70 tomorrow or make a final charge on the back 9.
T11/+1 Yukari Baba (77-68), Erina Hara (76-69), Yuko Saitoh (73-72), Shinobu Moromizato (72-73)
17th/+2 Ji-Woo Lee (74-72)
T18/+3 Saiki Fujita (76-71), Tamie Durdin (76-71), Chie Arimura (72-75)
T24/+4 Na Zhang (74-74), Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-74)
T33/+5 Nikki Campbell (75-72), Ji-Yai Shin (74-75), Esther Lee (74-75)
T43/+7 Yuki Ichinose (75-76), Maiko Wakabayashi (74-77), Ah-Reum Hwang (72-79)
Very surprising to see Shin down there near the cut line; she's now shot 3 straight sides over par. Almost as surprising was seeing last week's winner Hwang going in the wrong direction in a big way on moving day. But at least they made the cut, something neither Yuko Mitsuka nor Ayako Uehara could accomplish despite their hot starts to the 2009 season--until this week.
T54/+8 Woo-Soon Ko (75-77), Ayako Uehara (74-78), Mayu Hattori (74-78)
T66/+9 Yuko Mitsuka (80-73), Midori Yoneyama (77-76), Sakurako Mori (76-77), Rui Yokomine (75-78)
T73/+10 Akane Iijima (81-73), Miki Saiki (80-74), Hiromi Mogi (79-75)
T85/+12 Rikako Morita (81-75), Kumiko Kaneda (76-80)
Yun-Jye Wei (82-WD or DQ)
So heading into the final round, this could end up being a free-for-all or a photo finish between the few golfers who pull away from the lead pack. I'll be rooting for Ai-chan all the way!
[Update 1 (4/13/09, 12:17 pm): The Daily Yomiuri has more details on the conditions the players struggled under Saturday.]