Sunday, May 3, 2009

Crystal Geyser Ladies Sunday: It's Arimura, After All!

21-year-old Chie Arimura held the 1st-round lead last week, but followed up her opening 65 with a nice round 80 to fall back to 10th place at the Fujisankei Ladies, where she ended up, thanks to the cancellation of the final round due to bad weather. So the fact that she was tied for the lead heading into the final round of the Crystal Geyser Ladies didn't fill me with loads of confidence on her behalf. And when one of the hottest players in the world of women's professional golf, Sakura Yokomine, had whittled down Arimura's 4-shot lead on the 1st tee to 1 on the 12th--not to mention that her bogey on the 11th had dropped her 1 stroke behind co-leader Yuko Saitoh--things didn't look good for Arimura at all.

After all 3 golfers parred the short par-4 12th, Arimura took off. First, she engineered a 2-shot swing on Saitoh when she birdied the 153-yard 12th and the now-former leader bogeyed it. A Saitoh double bogey on the long-par 4 13th gave Arimura some breathing room--a 2-shot lead on Yokomine and a 3-shot lead on Saitoh. Yokomine wasn't able to match birdied on the par-5 14th by both Arimura and Saitoh, so Arimura's lead extended to 3 on both her rivals, until Saitoh bogeyed the 147-yard par 3 that followed. Arimura preserved her 3-shot victory by matching Yokomine's par-birdie finish for her 2nd career win on the JLPGA. Not a bad record in those wins, either--this year, she faced down a charging Yokomine; last year, she faced down charges by both Yuri Fudoh and Shiho Oyama.

Here are the top 10 and notables:

1st/-9 Chie Arimura (67-70-70)
2nd/-6 Sakura Yokomine (68-73-69)
T3/-4 Mie Nakata (68-71-73), Yuko Saitoh (68-69-75)
T5/-3 Michie Ohba (72-72-69), Akane Iijima (66-75-72)
7th/-2 Miho Koga (70-72-72)
T8/-1 Yuri Fudoh (71-73-71), Ikue Asama (73-70-72), Mi-Jeong Jeon (70-69-76)

T11/E Maiko Wakabayashi (73-71-72), Ah-Reum Hwang (69-71-76)
T16/+1 Yun-Jye Wei (72-71-74), Yuko Mitsuka (70-73-74), Momoko Ueda (72-70-75), Bo-Bae Song (69-73-75)
T20/+2 Erina Hara (72-74-72), Hiroko Yamaguchi (74-71-73), Hiromi Mogi (72-72-74), Shinobu Moromizato (70-74-74)
T30/+3 Eun-A Lim (77-70-72), Li-Ying Ye (74-73-72), Ji-Woo Lee (70-74-75), Tamie Durdin (69-75-75), Midori Yoneyama (71-72-76)
T42/+5 Yukari Baba (72-74-75)
T45/+6 Esther Lee (73-73-76)

Saitoh sure wasn't alone in blowing up on Sunday. Momoko Ueda was short some wisdom teeth this week, but had been playing fine until she tripled the par-4 5th; she matched 4 birdies against 4 bogeys and 4 pars over her final 12 holes to stay out of the top 10. A 39 on the back dropped Yuko Mitsuka out of the top 10. And it was more final-round disappointment for Mi-Jeong Jeon, as a triple, double, and a bogey offset her 3 birdies on the back today. (That's right, she had been in sight of the lead heading into it.)

Here's how the top of the JLPGA money list looks now:

1. Sakura Yokomine ¥31.69M
2. Yuko Mitsuka ¥26.43M
3. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥22.80M
4. Ayako Uehara ¥19.25M
5. Erina Hara ¥18.91M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥18.55M
7. Chie Arimura ¥16.87M
8. Tamie Durdin ¥15.54M
9. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥12.80M
10. Ji-Woo Lee ¥12.07M
11. Yuko Saitoh ¥9.34M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥8.90M
13. Mie Nakata ¥8.88M
14. Miho Koga ¥8.79M
15. Ji-Yai Shin ¥8.48M
16. Shinobu Moromizato ¥8.42M
17. Julie Lu ¥8.17M
18. Midori Yoneyama ¥7.76M
19. Kuniko Maeda ¥7.07M
20. Kaori Aoyama ¥6.89M
21. Yuri Fudoh ¥6.60M
22. Hiromi Mogi ¥6.31M
23. Akane Iijima ¥6.27M
24. Yukari Baba ¥5.85M
25. Rui Kitada ¥5.74M
26. Michie Ohba ¥5.12M
27. Junko Omote ¥4.91M
28. Nikki Campbell ¥4.78M
29. Yayoi Arasaki ¥4.67M
30. Kurumi Dohi ¥4.55M

Besides Shin, the visiting LPGAers haven't done that great this year: Ueda sits at #52 and Ai Miyazato at #55. None of them are in the field for the Salonpas Cup, either--they all opted to play the Michelob Ultra. So Yokomine is definitely the player to beat next week at the JLPGA's 1st major. We'll see how she handles the pressure. And how Paula Creamer's health holds up....

[Update 1 (6:39 pm): Happy Fan has the story of how Hee Kyung Seo came back from a 6-shot deficit to notch her 1st major and 8th career victory on the KLPGA.]

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