Sunday, May 10, 2009

Salonpas Cup Sunday: Vindication for Shinobu Moromizato

22-year-old Shinobu Moromizato held on for a 1-shot victory in the JLPGA's 1st major of 2009, the Salonpas Cup. Not only did she have to withstand charges from her playing partners, Mi-Jeong Jeon and Akiko Fukushima, but she also had to deal with the pressure of the leader in the clubhouse being none other than Paula Creamer, whose almost-flawless 65 brought her to -12 for the tournament.

The American superstar, whose pairing with Sakura Yokomine and Li-Ying Ye was 2 groups ahead of Moromizato's, started the day 5 shots back, but she birdied the long par-4 2nd, eagled the short par-5 5th, and birdied the longish par-3 6th for a 32 on the front that brought her to -9 at the turn. But the other leaders were playing great golf, too. Yokomine's 33 brought her to -8, Fukushima's 34 to -10, and Jeon's 32 to -11. Even Ji-Hee Lee had joined the hunt after her own opening 32 brought her to -7. Moromizato, though, was threatening to make all their efforts moot, as she made 5 birdies on the front to offset her lone bogey on the par-5 3rd, to get to -14 for the tournament. And when she birdied the long par-3 13th, the tournament was hers to lose. Sure, Jeon had climbed to -12 and Fukushima to -11 with early birdies on the back, and Lee had closed her round with a 33 to climb to -10. But at -15 and playing great, Moromizato seemed in control.

Meanwhile, however, Creamer was making a run of her own. After a bogey on the 10th, she rattled off 4 birdies in the next 6 holes--on 2 par 4s, a par 5, and a par 3--to get to -12 through 16. Although Creamer couldn't convert either of her final 2 birdie attempts, Moromizato must have started to feel the pressure, because she bogeyed the 401-yard 14th and followed it up with another bogey on the 371-yard 16th. Although Jeon and Fukushima also bogeyed the 16th to remain 2 and 3 shots behind Moromizato, they bounced right back with a birdie and an eagle, respectively, on the par-5 17th. So Moromizato held a slim 1-shot lead on her playing partners heading into the 18th, and needed to avoid a bogey to fall back into a tie with Creamer at -12 for the tournament. As usual, Kyodo wire service leaves out the key details of the final hole, but when the dust settled, the leaderboard looked like this:

1st/-13 Shinobu Moromizato (69-70-67-69)
T2/-12 Paula Creamer (71-68-72-65), Mi-Jeong Jeon (68-69-72-67)
4th/-11 Akiko Fukushima (68-68-72-69)
5th/-10 Ji-Hee Lee (68-71-74-65)
6th/-9 Sakura Yokomine (73-67-71-68)
T7/-8 Hyun-Ju Shin (68-73-71-68), Yukari Baba (69-72-70-69), Tamie Durdin (69-71-70-70)
10th/-4 Li-Ying Ye (72-69-70-73)

T11/-2 Yuri Fudoh (72-71-72-71), Chie Arimura (70-71-69-76)
T14/-1 Yuko Mitsuka (72-74-70-71), Bo-Bae Song (73-68-75-71), Maiko Wakabayashi (70-68-74-75)
T17/E Miho Koga (73-70-73-72)
T19/+1 Hiroko Yamaguchi (71-73-76-69), Eun-A Lim (73-70-74-72), Ah-Reum Hwang (69-72-73-75)
T25/+2 Yuko Saitoh (75-72-76-67), Akane Iijima (71-73-75-71), Ayako Uehara (73-70-72-75)
T31/+3 Rui Kitada (74-74-72-71), Ji-Woo Lee (78-70-70-73), Hiromi Mogi (74-71-73-73)
T39/+5 Saiki Fujita (70-77-73-73)
44th/+7 Da-Ye Na (73-72-75-75)
T45/+8 Woo Soon Ko (73-75-76), Miki Saiki (75-72-77), Erina Hara (72-75-76-73), Midori Yoneyama (75-73-74-74), Yun-Jye Wei (70-78-73-75)
T53/+9 Yuki Ichinose (71-76-72-78)
T55/+10 Rikako Morita (74-73-77-74)

Moromizato's 2nd JLPGA major victory and 4th career win must be sweet vindication for a young player who hadn't met with much success on the LPGA in her earlier years. Now she's rocketed up from 16th on the JLPGA money list to 2nd:

1. Sakura Yokomine ¥36.43M
2. Shinobu Moromizato ¥32.42M
3. Yuko Mitsuka ¥27.90M
4. Ji-Hee Lee ¥24.08M
5. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥23.85M
6. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥23.00M
7. Ayako Uehara ¥20.16M
8. Erina Hara ¥19.36M
9. Tamie Durdin ¥18.95M
10. Chie Arimura ¥18.65M
11. Ji-Woo Lee ¥12.79M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥10.40M
13. Yuko Saitoh ¥10.25M
14. Miho Koga ¥10.02M
15. Yukari Baba ¥9.26M
16. Julie Lu ¥9.22M
17. Akiko Fukushima ¥9.22M
18. Mie Nakata ¥8.88M
19. Kaori Aoyama ¥8.67M
20. Ji-Yai Shin ¥8.48M
21. Yuri Fudoh ¥8.38M
22. Midori Yoneyama ¥8.21M
23. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥7.51M
24. Akane Iijima ¥7.18M
25. Kuniko Maeda ¥7.07M
26. Hiromi Mogi ¥7.03M
27. Rui Kitada ¥6.45M
28. Junko Omote ¥5.96M
29. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥5.91M
30. Michie Ohba ¥5.57M

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