1st-round leader Akane Iijima stumbled to a 39 on the back 9 in the 2nd round of the Crystal Geyser Ladies, opening the door for a host of players to pass her. Leading the way were Chie Arimura and Yuko Saitoh, who took very different paths to their -7 totals. Saitoh's bogey-free 69 opened with 3 birdies in her 1st 6 holes and closed with 12 straight pars, while Arimura started slow but finished with 4 birdies and only 1 bogey in her last 6 holes. They take a 2-shot lead on Mi-Jeong Jeon and Mie Nakata and a 3-shot lead on Ah-Reum Hwang and Junko Omote into the final round. Jeon and Hwang were both -3 through 10 and playing bogey-free golf, but squandered opportunities down the stretch to keep up with Arimura and Saitoh. Still, they didn't fall down the leaderboard as sharply as Iijima and Sakura Yokomine, who dropped 4 shots off the pace.
Here are the top 10 and notables:
T1/-7 Yuko Saitoh (68-69), Chie Arimura (67-70)
T3/-5 Mi-Jeong Jeon (70-69), Mie Nakata (68-71)
T5/-4 Junko Omote (71-69), Ah-Reum Hwang (69-71)
T7/-3 Sakura Yokomine (68-73), Akane Iijima (66-75)
T9/-2 Momoko Ueda (72-70), Miho Koga (70-72), Bo-Bae Song (69-73)
Anyone in this bunch could walk away with a victory. Those further behind will need a miracle, though.
T12/-1 Yun-Jye Wei (72-71), Midori Yoneyama (71-72), Yuko Mitsuka (70-73)
T19/E Maiko Wakabayashi (73-71), Hiromi Mogi (72-72), Yuri Fudoh (71-73), Shinobu Moromizato (70-74), Ji-Woo Lee (70-74), Tamie Durdin (69-75)
T31/+1 Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-71)
T36/+2 Esther Lee (73-73), Erina Hara (72-74), Yukari Baba (72-74)
T44/+3 Eun-A Lim (77-70), Li-Ying Ye (74-73)
Many of the JLPGA's young guns continue to struggle; Hyun-Ju Shin's and Na Zhang's comebacks from injuries also ran aground this week.
T55/+4 Kaori Higo (75-73), Kumiko Kaneda (73-75), Rikako Morita (73-75), Hyun-Ju Shin (72-76)
T64/+5 Rui Kitada (77-72), Miki Saiki (72-77)
T75/+6 Sakurako Mori (79-71), Na Zhang (78-72), Saiki Fujita (76-74)
T83/+7 Ritsuko Ryu (75-76)
T96/+10 Woo-Soon Ko (75-79)
[Update 1 (11:18 am): Be sure to follow the action at the Korean Women's Open, the KLPGA's 1st major, over at the Seoul Sisters blog!]