Sunday, October 18, 2009

All I Want for My Birthday Is a Win by Ai Miyazato at the Fujitsu Ladies

As the leaders enter the final back 9 in the Fujitsu Ladies, Ai Miyazato sits 2 shots behind Miki Saiki (-10) and 1 shot behind Yukari Baba, Nikki Campbell, and Akane Iijima (-9). Saiki and Iijima had leapfrogged Miyazato with 2nd-round 65s, while Baba's 2nd-straight 68 had put her 1 behind them and 2 ahead of Campbell and Ai-sama, who had shot their own matching 69s to the 1st round. Whereas Miyazato had done her damage on Friday with a back-side 32, on Saturday she had opened with another one, but 2 bogeys in a 3-hole stretch on the back broke her momentum. As Ai-sama suffered the worst 9-hole score of any of the top 10 on moving day, she got passed by Iijima, who matched her Friday feat of 4 birdies in the 1st 5 holes on the back in a flawless performance, by Saiki, who followed up a 31 on the front with 3 birdies in her last 6 holes, and by Baba, who rallied with a 33 on the back. Today, Ai-sama has found the steadiness lacking in her previous 2 rounds, but having played 13 holes of bogey-free golf at 2-under, she'll need to find that mid-tournament explosiveness again over her last 5 holes if she's going to get her 2nd JLPGA win in a row.

Or maybe not. A bogey by Saiki on the par-4 12th has created a logjam for the lead at -9, 1 shot ahead of Ai-sama. As we wait for the final results, here's how everyone stands:

T1/-9 Miki Saiki (70-65-), Akane Iijima (70-65-), Yukari Baba (68-68-), Nikki Campbell (69-69-)
5th/-8 Ai Miyazato (69-69-),
6th/-7 Tamie Durdin (69-70-)
T7/-6 Ah-Reum Hwang (70-70-), Shinobu Moromizato (70-71-), Eun-A Lim (70-71-)
T10/-5 Miho Koga (71-69-), Chie Arimura (69-72-)

T12/-4 Yuri Fudoh (73-68-)
T15/-3 Asako Fujimoto (71-70-), Julie Lu (69-72-), Yun-Jye Wei (72-72-69), Esther Lee (72-72-69)
T20/-2 Yumiko Yoshida (69-73-)
T22/E Mayu Hattori (71-73-72)
T25/+1 Rikako Morita (76-67-), Hyun-Ju Shin (73-70-), Erina Hara (72-71-), Ayako Uehara (75-71-71), Yuki Ichinose (72-73-72)
T37/+3 Ji-Woo Lee (74-72-73), Sakura Yokomine (72-73-74)
T45/+4 Mai Arai (76-71-73), Yuki Sakurai (76-70-74)
T49/+5 Mie Nakata (74-73-74)
T54/+6 Kumiko Kaneda (73-74-75), So-Hee Kim (73-72-77)

Missing the cut yesterday were a surprisingly large number of elite players:

T57/+4 Maiko Wakabayashi (75-73)
T70/+6 Yuko Saitoh (74-76), Rui Kitada (73-77)
T76/+7 Na-Ri Lee (77-74)
T80/+8 Sakurako Mori (77-75)
WD Midori Yoneyama (77-WD)

A few more notes on today's round. Wei had played flawlessly for 15 holes, but went bogey-par-double bogey to drop out of the top 10. Koga had been -7 at the turn, but bogeys on the 12th and 14th have dropped her pretty much out of contention. Hwang had also been -7, but a bogey on the 14th has set her back. And a bogey on the par-4 11th dropped Durdin out of a tie at -8 with Ai-sama. By contrast, players with momentum include Moromizato, who's birdied 3 of her last 6 holes but only has 3 left to play, and Campbell, who's got a bogey-free 3-under round going today through 13 holes.

Here's where the last groups on the course are: Hara, Morita, and Shin are on the 18th; Suzuki, Yoshida, and Shiotani are on the 17th; Ohe, Shinsakue, and Lu are on the 16th; Arimura, Moromizato, and Lim are on the 16th; Fujimoto, Fudoh, and Nishizuka are on the 15th; Hwang, Koga, and Nagata are on the 15th; Durdin, Campbell, and Miyazato are on the 14th; and Baba, Iijima, Saiki are on the 13th.

As Japanese tv coverage begins, I'll say it again: all I want for my birthday is another win for Ai Miyazato!

[Update 1 (1:41 am): On other tours, Marianne Skarpnord shot a back-9 30 to force a playoff with Laura Davies and then beat her for her 2nd LET win of the season, which moved her to 4th on their money list. Christina Kim took time off from sightseeing to finish T11, while Julieta Granada (T20) and Linda Wessberg (T29) finished under par, as well, and built up some much-needed confidence. Meanwhile, Mi-Jeong Jeon put herself in contention this week on the KLPGA heading into the final round of their 3rd major of 2009. What a way to make up for last week's painful finish a win this week would be! Go, Mi-Jeong!]

[Update 2 (1:52 am): The statistically-minded will appreciate bangkokbobby's KLPGA update over at Seoul!]

[Update 3 (4:59 am): So close! Nikki Campbell and Ai Miyazato shot matching 35-34 sides today, but the former bogeyed 17 to do it, opening the door for a playoff with the latter. But Ai-sama couldn't pull off her 2nd win in a row; instead, Campbell won her 1st tournament near the end of her 7th season on the JLPGA. Akane Iijima had also gotten it to -10 after a birdie on the 5th hole, but she went 2-over the rest of the way and fell out of the playoff with a walkoff bogey. Miki Saiki bogeyed 2 of her last 7 holes to drop out of the playoff, as well as Yukari Baba, who played her last 6 holes in +1.

Here are the final results:

1st/-9 Nikki Campbell (69-69-69 [won in playoff])
2nd/-9 Ai Miyazato (69-69-69)
T3/-8 Yukari Baba (68-68-72), Miki Saiki (70-65-73), Akane Iijima (70-65-73)
6th/-7 Tamie Durdin (69-70-70)
7th/-6 Eun-A Lim (70-71-69)
T8/-5 Shinobu Moromizato (70-71-70), Miho Koga (71-69-71)
T10/-4 Yuri Fudoh (73-68-71), Aoi Nagata (71-69-72)

T12/-3 Yun-Jye Wei (72-72-69), Esther Lee (72-72-69), Asako Fujimoto (71-70-72), Chie Arimura (69-72-72), Julie Lu (69-72-72), Ah-Reum Hwang (70-70-73)
T19/-2 Yumiko Yoshida (69-73-72)
T21/E Mayu Hattori (71-73-72), Hyun-Ju Shin (73-70-73)
T24/+1 Ayako Uehara (75-71-71), Yuki Ichinose (72-73-72), Rikako Morita (76-67-74)
T30/+2 Erina Hara (72-71-75)
T37/+3 Ji-Woo Lee (74-72-73), Sakura Yokomine (72-73-74)
T45/+4 Mai Arai (76-71-73), Yuki Sakurai (76-70-74)
T49/+5 Mie Nakata (74-73-74)
T54/+6 Kumiko Kaneda (73-74-75), So-Hee Kim (73-72-77)

Still, I'm glad Ai-sama came that close!]

[Update 4 (5:15 am): Here's the new money list:

1. Shinobu Moromizato ¥145.03M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥127.94M
3. Chie Arimura ¥106.36M
4. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥105.12M
5. Yuko Mitsuka ¥69.40M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥60.34M
7. Miho Koga ¥60.32M
8. Yukari Baba ¥51.27M
9. Bo-Bae Song ¥47.04M
10. Nikki Campbell ¥44.24M
11. Yuko Saitoh ¥42.02M
12. Eun-A Lim ¥40.91M
13. Yuri Fudoh ¥40.42M
14. Ai Miyazato ¥39.53M
15. Miki Saiki ¥36.19M
16. Ayako Uehara ¥35.13M
17. Akiko Fukushima ¥34.67M
18. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥33.58M
19. Erina Hara ¥33.07M
20. Tamie Durdin ¥31.25M
21. Rui Kitada ¥30.33M
22. Momoko Ueda ¥28.51M
23. Rikako Morita ¥28.77M
24. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥26.32M
25. Midori Yoneyama ¥26.02M
26. Hiromi Mogi ¥25.96M
27. Ji-Woo Lee ¥25.53M
28. Na-Ri Lee ¥25.37M
29. Saiki Fujita ¥24.54M
30. Mayu Hattori ¥24.23M
31. Akane Iijima ¥24.22M
32. Li-Ying Ye ¥24.13M
33. Kaori Aoyama ¥21.31M
34. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥21.25M
35. So-Hee Kim ¥19.32M

Campbell jumps 10 spots into the top 10 with her win. Meanwhile, Miyazato has a great chance not only for a top 10 on the JLPGA this season, but for a $2M+ year in worldwide winnings, as well!]

[Update 5 (5:30 am): All I can get on the playoff is the news from Kyodo that Campbell sank a "super birdie putt" for the win. Let's see if the Australian media gives more details!]

[Update 6 (12:24 pm): It was a good week for JLPGA and KLPGA regulars. Hee Kyung Seo cruised to a 5-shot win over the LPGA's Na Yeon Choi, and the only other LPGAers to come within 10 shots of her were Inbee Park and Ji-Yai Shin. Unfortunately for Ji Hee Lee and Mi-Jeong Jeon, they didn't stay under par for the week, either. Jeon was in contention heading into the final round, but shot an 80 to drop 3 shots behind the steadier Lee.]

[Update 7 (10/19/09, 1:18 am): Ai-sama gets the "Know Your Asians" treatment from Stephanie Wei. Meanwhile, Bruce Young doesn't have details on the playoff, but does claim that Campbell's 1st JLPGA win came in 2006. Shows that you sometimes have to dig deeper than the career overview on a player's current profile page: he's right, she won the We Love Kobe Suntory Ladies--a big one--in 2006.]

[Update 8 (11:27 am): Here's what it takes to beat Ai Miyazato these days: stay alive in the playoff as long as possible and beat her with a 50-foot birdie putt on the 4th hole! Thank goodness for Asian Golf Daily, which has the details for those illiterate in Japanese!]

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