Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nichirei PGM Ladies Sunday: Yokomine Gets Her Hat Trick in Rain-Shortened Event

Well, they called the final round of the Nichirei PGM Ladies due to the heavy rains moving across the entire country today. So Sakura Yokomine joins Ayako Uehara and Tamie Durdin as a winner of a 36-hole tournament on the JLPGA in 2009. It's an anticlimactic way to become the 1st 3-time winner of the season on tour--certainly not as impressive as So Yeon Ryu's huge come-from-behind victory on the KLPGA this week (her 2nd in a row and 3rd in the last 4 events)--but a win's a win.

Plus, it gives her some breathing room ahead of 2-time winner Shinobu Moromizato on the money list:

1. Sakura Yokomine ¥70.18M
2. Shinobu Moromizato ¥57.98M
3. Yuko Mitsuka ¥50.61M
4. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥44.04M
5. Chie Arimura ¥37.11M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥30.14M
7. Yuko Saitoh ¥28.89M
8. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥27.36M
9. Ayako Uehara ¥26.98M
10. Eun-A Lim ¥24.97M
11. Tamie Durdin ¥24.18M
12. Erina Hara ¥23.80M
13. Miho Koga ¥22.25M
14. Akiko Fukushima ¥21.83M
15. Li-Ying Ye ¥18.90M
16. Yuri Fudoh ¥18.38M
17. Rui Kitada ¥18.35M
18. Yukari Baba ¥17.85M
19. Ji-Woo Lee ¥17.44M
20. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥15.61M
21. Bo-Bae Song ¥14.23M
22. Hiromi Mogi ¥13.21M
23. Julie Lu ¥12.15M
24. Akane Iijima ¥11.69M
25. Mie Nakata ¥11.49M
26. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥11.09M
27. Midori Yoneyama ¥10.73M
28. Rikako Morita ¥10.57M
29. Miki Saiki ¥10.52M
30. Nikki Campbell ¥10.20M

With a 70.39 scoring average, a 3.84 birdie rate, and a scorching 1.7367 putts per green in regulation rate, Yokomine looks like she's ready to compete on the LPGA. As one of the top 5 money winners on the JLPGA last season, she's eligible to compete in the U.S. Women's Open. To do so, though, she'd have to remove her name from the field list for the Meiji Chocolate Cup. Yuri Fudoh, the defending champ of the JLPGA event, is listed on the USGA site as fully exempt for the Open, as is #2 on the JLPGA career money list, Akiko Fukushima, and the #2-ranked player on the JLPGA right now, Ji-Hee Lee. Their names don't appear on the Meiji Chocolate Cup field list, so I have to wonder if Yokomine chose not to submit an entry for the Open or missed the May 6th deadline, just like the #1 on the 2008 money list, Miho Koga. I've seen Yokomine and Koga together on a Srixon commercial on Chiba TV this week, so maybe their sponsor is giving them some incentive to stay in Japan, but even so, it's almost as weird a decision as Ai Miyazato's to skip the LPGA Championship.

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