Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meiji Chocolate Cup Sunday: Mi-Jeong Jeon in the Driver's Seat

Mi-Jeong Jeon takes a 4-shot lead on Midori Yoneyama into the final 5 holes of the Meiji Chocolate Cup. After a bogey on the par-4 3rd dropped her to -4 on the tournament, Jeon rattled off 3 birdies in her next 10 holes while Yoneyama offset her birdie on the par-3 7th with a bogey on the par-4 13th, Erina Hara made 13 straight pars to stay at -2, Saiki Fujita also couldn't find a birdie in that same stretch but did find 3 bogeys to join her, and Da-Ye Na rode the roller coaster to also fall 5 back. We'll see if anyone puts any pressure on Jeon down the stretch. She had some heart-breaking collapses as a front-runner at the end of last season and start of this one, but could become the 3rd 2-time winner on tour if she can hold on today. If she does it, this'll be the 6th event in a row that was won by her, Sakura Yokomine, or Shinobu Moromizato--and we can start talking about a Big 3 on the JLPGA in '09.

[Update 1 (9:13 am): There was no faltering for Jeon this time, as she birdied 2 of her last 4 holes for a 68 that gave her a 6-stroke victory over Miho Koga, Yuko Mitsuka, and Midori Yoneyama. Another dominating win for Jeon on the JLPGA in '09. Here's how the top 10 and notables ended up on the final leaderboard:

1st/-9 Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-68-68)
T3/-3 Miho Koga (74-70-69), Yuko Mitsuka (73-69-71), Midori Yoneyama (69-71-73)
T5/-2 Erina Hara (70-72-72), Da-Ye Na (72-69-73)
T7/-1 Nikki Campbell (77-69-69), Rikako Morita (76-70-69), Na-Ri Lee (75-71-69), Saiki Fujita (76-63-76)

T11/E Esther Lee (74-71-71), Mayu Hattori (69-74-73)
T14/+1 Akane Iijima (73-74-70), Sakura Yokomine (74-71-72), Chie Arimura (74-70-73)
T19/+2 Hiromi Mogi (75-73-70), Shinobu Moromizato (72-74-72)
T25/+3 Kumiko Kaneda (77-70-72), Ayako Uehara (73-74-72), Yuki Ichinose (73-74-72), Yukari Baba (70-76-73)
T34/+4 Rui Kitada (76-72-72), Yuko Saitoh (75-72-73), Mie Nakata (73-74-73)
T44/+6 Ji-Woo Lee (76-70-76)

Looks like Koga, Mitsuka, and Hara are coming alive, too. The 2nd half of the JLPGA season should be quite interesting.]

[Update 2 (9:27 am): The new money list suggests we're not quite at a Big 3 on the JLPGA. Mitsuka is closer to Jeon than Jeon is to Moromizato or Yokomine. So if Mitsuka is the 4th to become a repeat winner on the JLPGA any time soon, it'll be better to talk of a Big 4.

1. Sakura Yokomine ¥77.01M
2. Shinobu Moromizato ¥73.24M
3. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥63.24M
4. Yuko Mitsuka ¥58.92M
5. Chie Arimura ¥40.11M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥37.18M
7. Yuko Saitoh ¥30.48M
8. Miho Koga ¥29.80M
9. Erina Hara ¥28.18M
10. Ayako Uehara ¥27.69M
11. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥27.36M
12. Eun-A Lim ¥25.99M
13. Tamie Durdin ¥24.90M
14. Akiko Fukushima ¥22.49M
15. Yuri Fudoh ¥21.38M
16. Rui Kitada ¥20.69M
17. Li-Ying Ye ¥19.56M
18. Yukari Baba ¥18.93M
19. Ji-Woo Lee ¥18.41M
20. Midori Yoneyama ¥17.27M
21. Saiki Fujita ¥16.10M
22. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥15.61M
23. Miki Saiki ¥14.52M
24. Hiromi Mogi ¥14.40M
25. Rikako Morita ¥14.35M
26. Bo-Bae Song ¥14.23M
27. Akane Iijima ¥13.29M
28. Mie Nakata ¥12.73M
29. Nikki Campbell ¥12.67M
30. Julie Lu ¥12.15M

Nice moves into the top 10 by Koga and Hara, into the top 20 by Yoneyama, and back into the top 30 by Campbell. This is the 1st time in a while that Hyun-Ju Shin (#31) hasn't appeared on this list. But you can see what a missed opportunity this week was for many mid-level JLPGAers by the fact that hardly anyone passed Fukushima, Fudoh, and Saiki while they were competing in the U.S. Women's Open this week. And it's a sign of how well Ji-Hee Lee has been playing that she maintained a healthy distance on #7 Saitoh despite also playing at Saucon Valley this week.]

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