Sunday, April 11, 2010

Studio Alice Ladies Open Sunday: Arimura Beats Park in Playoff

Inbee Park has been playing as well as anyone on the planet since the end of last season, but she just can't buy a win. Today, as I suggested would happen, she was in a tense shootout with 1 of the JLPGA's finest, Chie Arimura, and lost in a playoff. Park had jumped out to an early lead with birdies on her 1st 2 holes, but when Arimura birdied the short par-4 4th and she bogeyed the long par-5 5th, she had lost it. Then Park fell 1 back when Arimura birdied the long par-4 8th, where she remained until she birdied the long par-4 17th. When they both parred the 18th, it was playoff time.

Several players had decent chances to join them in the playoff, but couldn't keep their momentum going. Bo-Bae Song was -3 after her 3rd birdie of the day, on the par-5 10th, but she bogeyed the 166-yard par-3 15th. A walkoff bogey added insult to injury, allowing Ai Miyazato, who made 4 birdies on the day and 3 on the back, to catch her in T4, along with the JLPGA's leading money-winner, Sun-Ju Ahn, who birdied 4 of her 1st 5 holes to leap to -2 but could only manage a pair of bogeys and a pair of birdies at crunch time. They ended up 1 behind the only other player to get into the title mix, the surprising 23-year-old Monday qualifier Kaori Nakamura, who was -4 and playing bogey-free golf with 4 holes to play but bogeyed the 166-yard par-3 15th and ended up 2 stroke out of the playoff.

So how did the playoff go? Here are the key elements from the Kyodo News story:

On the first extra hole--the 405-yard, par-4 18th--the 22-year-old Arimura sank her winning putt from three feet after Park missed the green with her second shot and ended up with a bogey.

"This is the first time I've won a close contest. I'm glad I holed my final putt under intense pressure. I feel a sense of growth as a player," said Arimura, who won five times and finished third on the money list in 2009.

"Last year, Sakura [Yokomine] won this tournament in a playoff and went on to claim the money title. So I hope to repeat that scenario," she said.

Here's how the top 10 and notables ended up:

1st/-5 Chie Arimura (72-69-70) [won in playoff]
2nd/-5 Inbee Park (68-73-70)
3rd/-2 Kaori Nakamura (74-69-71)
T4/-1 Sun-Ju Ahn (73-74-68), Ai Miyazato (73-72-70), Bo-Bae Song (73-70-72)
7th/+1 Eun-A Lim (72-71-74)
T8/+2 Young Kim (73-75-70), Junko Omote (76-72-70), Ji-Woo Lee (73-73-72)

T11/+3 Rikako Morita (82-70-67)
T13/+4 Mie Nakata (76-74-70), Ayako Uehara (75-73-72), Yukari Baba (74-74-72), Li-Ying Ye (73-72-75)
T18/+5 Momoko Ueda (79-71-71), Nikki Campbell (76-74-71), Akiko Fukushima (73-74-74), Miho Koga (75-71-75)
T24/+6 Na-Ri Kim (75-74-73), Akane Iijima (76-71-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-72-75), Esther Lee (72-74-76)
T28/+7 Saiki Fujita (77-75-71), Hyun-Ju Shin (77-73-73), Hiromi Mogi (75-75-73), Seon Hwa Lee (77-72-74)
T34/+8 Miki Saiki (77-75-72)
T36/+9 Ah-Reum Hwang (79-72-74), So-Hee Kim (78-72-75), Yun-Jye Wei (74-76-75), Shinobu Moromizato (76-72-77)
T43/+11 Yuki Sakurai (78-74-75), Jae-Hee Bae (78-73-76)
T48/+13 Ritsuko Ryu (75-77-77)
50th/+18 Yuko Saitoh (76-75-83)

Fantastic comeback by Morita shows why she's the best of the JLPGA's new blood right now (at least among Japanese players!). Her T11 was just enough to squeak her into the top 30 on the money list:

1. Sun Ju Ahn ¥24.82M
2. Chie Arimura ¥18.44M
3. Miho Koga ¥17.28M
4. Yun-Jye Wei ¥17.22M
5. Rui Kitada ¥17.17M
6. Inbee Park ¥16.65M
7. Kaori Aoyama ¥10.34M
8. Mie Nakata ¥8.20M
9. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥8.09M
10. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.91M
11. Bo-Bae Song ¥7.54M
12. Sakura Yokomine ¥7.52M
13. Hiroko Ayada ¥7.17M
14. Ji-Hee Lee ¥7.09M
15. Young Kim ¥6.93M
16. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.16M
17. Hiromi Takesue ¥6.14M
18. Yukari Baba ¥6.03M
19. Ai Miyazato ¥5.40M
20. Ji-Yai Shin ¥4.93M
21. Chieko Amanuma ¥4.72M
22. Ayako Uehara ¥4.66M
23. Akane Iijima ¥4.59M
24. Eun-A Lim ¥4.59M
25. Yuri Fudoh ¥4.56M
26. Kaori Nakamura ¥4.20M
27. Ji-Woo Lee ¥3.85M
28. Junko Omote ¥3.80M
29. Nikki Campbell ¥3.76M
30. Rikako Morita ¥3.75M

Ji-Yai Shin returns to the JLPGA next week, but it looks like Ai Miyazato will be taking the week off. Momoko Ueda, who's barely within the top 50 on the money list at just under 2 million yen to her name, will look to start playing well in Japan for the 1st time this season, as will Seon Hwa Lee, who just made her 1st cut as a JLPGA member this week. We'll see if Inbee Park can finally break through for her 1st win since the '08 U.S. Women's Open....

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