Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mizuno Classic Sunday: Song Holds Off Ochoa

Golf fans got neither the hoped-for Tiger vs. Phil showdown at the WGC-HSBC Champions nor Ji-Yai Shin vs. Ai Miyazato at the Mizuno Classic, but what they got instead was pretty darn exciting. 63s by Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy were not enough to chase down Phil Mickelson in Shanghai, while a bogey-free 64 from Lorena Ochoa was too little, too late, to make a dent in Bo-Bae Song's huge lead, which dropped from 6 with 5 to play to 3 at the end.

Actually, Hee Young Park had cut Song's lead to 2, but bogeyed the last hole to tie Ochoa and Brittany Lang, who had done the same with a bogey on the par-5 16th, for 2nd. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? I'm sure Ryan Moore's 68, which left him 2 shots off Mickelson's pace, will be far overshadowed by Tiger's +4 start in his 1st 7 holes today. At least Ai Miyazato's inability to get anything going today (she ended up with the same 72 that Woods did, but got passed by many more players) will probably overshadow nobody's good round. Ya Ni Tseng bounced back from a pair of late doubles yesterday with a bogey-free 67 today that vaulted her into a tie for 5th, 4 shots behind Song, along with Ji-Yai Shin, Mi-Jeong Jeon, and Inbee Park (who all shot solid 69s). Similar 67s by Sakura Yokomine and Maria Hjorth couldn't quite allow them to join the double-digits-under-par club, which was filled out by Momoko Ueda (70), Rui Kitada (71), and In-Kyung Kim (72), but they did finish T12 with Song-Hee Kim (71), Eun-A Lim (69), and Akane Iijima (73). Ji Young Oh's 7-birdie 67 won't get that much attention, to be sure, as it only moved her up to T37, nor does it deserve as much as Daisuke Maruyama's 63 or Shingo Katayama's 65.

Here's hoping the golfy media don't miss the forest for the trees, though. Whereas the WGC-HSBC Champions doesn't count toward the PGA Tour's money list, the Mizuno Classic counts toward both the LPGA's and JLPGA's. So where does Ochoa's runner-up put her? About $400K behind Shin with 2 events to go--almost certainly too far back to catch her. Here's the new LPGA top 10:

1. Ji-Yai Shin $1.71M
2. Ai Miyazato $1.47M
3. Cristie Kerr $1.43M
4. Suzann Pettersen $1.32M
5. Lorena Ochoa $1.31M
6. Na Yeon Choi $1.24M
7. Ya Ni Tseng $1.24M
8. In-Kyung Kim $1.21M
9. Angela Stanford $1.06M
10. Paula Creamer $1.03M

But Ochoa cut Shin's lead in the Player of the Year race to 4 points and opened up a .07 scoring-average lead on Miyazato, .08 on Shin, and .09 on Kerr, so she could still win 2 of the 3 major end-of-year awards on the LPGA.

How about the JLPGA's top 40?

1. Shinobu Moromizato ¥152.41M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥133.26M
3. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥123.28M
4. Chie Arimura ¥118.45M
5. Yuko Mitsuka ¥81.68M
6. Bo-Bae Song ¥70.34M
7. Ji-Hee Lee ¥67.85M
8. Miho Koga ¥62.52M
9. Yukari Baba ¥55.09M
10. Eun-A Lim ¥45.57M
11. Akiko Fukushima ¥45.44M
12. Nikki Campbell ¥44.76M
13. Yuko Saitoh ¥43.28M
14. Ai Miyazato ¥41.06M
15. Miki Saiki ¥41.04M
16. Yuri Fudoh ¥40.82M
17. Ayako Uehara ¥38.76M
18. Ji-Yai Shin ¥37.42M
19. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥36.84M
20. Rui Kitada ¥34.63M
21. Erina Hara ¥33.92M
22. Tamie Durdin ¥33.26M
23. Momoko Ueda ¥32.85M
24. Akane Iijima ¥30.96M
25. Rikako Morita ¥30.40M
26. Hiromi Mogi ¥30.31M
27. Mayu Hattori ¥29.92M
28. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥27.33M
29. Midori Yoneyama ¥26.91M
30. Na-Ri Lee ¥26.13M
31. Ji-Woo Lee ¥25.81M
32. Saiki Fujita ¥25.42M
33. Li-Ying Ye ¥25.02M
34. Michie Ohba ¥24.39M
35. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥23.85M
36. Kaori Aoyama ¥21.63M
37. So-Hee Kim ¥19.98M
38. Julie Lu ¥18.14M
39. Nobuko Kizawa ¥16.89M
40. Mie Nakata ¥16.52M

Hopefully we'll see more than a couple players from the top of this list in the HSBC Women's Champions event in late February 2010. And here's hoping Yuko Mitsuka does well in LPGA Q-School to join Song as a new member of the American tour next season. Depending on how the last 2 stages of JLPGA Q-School go, we could have as many as 16 dual LPGA-JLPGA members in 2010 (and possibly more if the JLPGA hasn't yet publicized the names of LET players with LPGA membership exempt into those stages who made the entry deadline last month)--8 Korean players, 5 Japanese, 2 Taiwanese, and 1 mainland Chinese.

So while I'm deeply disappointed for Ai-sama and Ryo-kun (who also got passed by a bunch of people today when he could have put himself in contention), I'm excited about the last 2 LPGA and last 3 JLPGA events and feeling pretty optimistic about the 2010 season.

[Update 1 (6:03 am): Man, what is it with Ernie Els and the 72nd hole?! That Shanghai finish was even wilder than I thought.]

[Update 2 (11:54 am): Happy Fan reports that Hee Kyung Seo just missed the playoff at -1 in this week's co-sponsored LET-KLPGA event's final round. The playoff itself eliminated the LPGA's Sarah Lee, so after it resumes in the morning (it was postponed due to darkness), it's So Yeon Ryu looking to beat Hyun-Ji Kim and make the Player of the Year race on the KLPGA even more interesting. Anna Rawson and Rebecca Coakley were the only LETers to come close to the top of the leaderboard, by the way.]

[Update 3 (11/9/09, 3:52 am): Upset win for Hyun-Ji Kim! She now has LET membership for 3 years. Fitting, as she birdied the 18th 3 times in a row to get it.]

[Update 4 (11:45 am): Whoops, either because Ryu didn't win or because the win wouldn't have counted anyway (it being a joint LET-KLPGA event and all, although that didn't stop the joint LPGA-KLPGA or LPGA-JLPGA events from counting on both tours before this week!), Hee Kyung Seo has clinched the KLPGA Player of the Year award.]


IceCat said...

Just one more trip to the par 5 18th was necessary to decide the playoff, as So-Yeon Ryu came up one stroke shy of Hyun-Ji Kim's winning birdie.

The Constructivist said...

Huge win for Hyun-Ji!