Morgan Pressel continued her fine play in the Salonpas Cup on moving day, but Mayu Hattori and Sakura Yokomine were tops among the 6 players to make up ground on her. Their bogey-free 67s brought them to -5 and -4, respectively, well within striking distance of Pressel, who stands at -7 with 18 holes left to play. 69s by Ai Miyazato, Sophie Gustafson, Tamie Durdin, and Momoko Ueda may well be too little, too late to get them into the mix tomorrow.
Here's how the top 10 and notables stand after 54 holes:
1st/-7 Morgan Pressel (71-68-70)
2nd/-5 Mayu Hattori (68-76-67)
3rd/-4 Sakura Yokomine (74-71-67)
T4/-1 Hyun-Ju Shin (72-73-70), Young Kim (74-70-71), Ya Ni Tseng (69-73-73)
T7/E Hiromi Mogi (73-72-71), Mie Nakata (70-75-71)
T9/+1 Ai Miyazato (76-72-69), Seon Hwa Lee (73-74-70), Bo-Bae Song (71-76-70), Nikki Campbell (73-73-71), Maria Iida (73-73-71)
T14/+2 Sophie Gustafson (77-72-69), Tamie Durdin (74-75-69), Ji-Hee Lee (72-75-71)
18th/+3 Teresa Lu (72-72-75)
T19/+4 Momoko Ueda (71-80-69), Yuri Fudoh (75-74-71), Akane Iijima (75-73-72), Miki Saiki (70-74-76)
T24/+5 Akiko Fukushima (75-76-70), Mi-Jeong Jeon (76-74-71), Rui Kitada (74-75-72)
T28/+7 Hee Kyung Seo (77-74-72), Sun-Ju Ahn (74-77-72), Yukari Baba (78-72-73), Ayako Uehara (76-74-73), Shinobu Moromizato (75-75-73), Na-Ri Lee (70-80-73), Inbee Park (72-75-76)
T35/+8 Yun-Jye Wei (73-78-73), Ritsuko Ryu (72-78-74), Rikako Morita (74-75-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (74-75-75), Eun-A Lim (70-79-75)
T43/+9 Erina Hara (73-78-74)
T47/+10 Ah-Reum Hwang (76-76-74)
T52/+11 Na-Ri Kim (76-75-76)
56th/+14 Miho Koga (74-78-78)
For awhile, it looked like Pressel was going to run away from the field and hide. She birdied 2 of her 1st 4 holes, 2 of them long par 4s, and played bogey-free golf until a bogey on the 9th forced her to settle for a 34. With Hattori having posted a 32 on the front, Yokomine a 33, Gustafson -4 over her 1st 10 holes, Durdin -4 over her 1st 15, and Ueda -5 over her 1st 13, it looked like Pressel might face multiple challenges. But only Hattori and Yokomine could keep up the pace, and even they slowed down. Miyazato joined them with a sub-70 bogey-free round with a late birdie, but Ueda was +2 over her last 4, Gustafson +1 over her last 5, and Durdin +1 over her last 3. They were caught or passed by players who surged late in the day, including Shin and Song (both made back-to-back birdies to end their rounds), Mogi (-3 over her last 4 holes), Young Kim (-3 over her last 6), and Ji-Hee Lee (-3 over her last 7).
Besides the race for the win, the battle between world #3 Miyazato and #4 Tseng tightened up when the former birdied 17 and the latter bogeyed 18. In addition, Young Kim, Seon Hwa Lee, and Teresa Lu are looking for their best finishes as JLPGA members. Kim already has a bronze and another top 10 in 7 previous starts, but Lee hasn't yet broken into the top 20 in 5 previous starts and this is Lu's 2nd made cut in 5 total starts this season.
The final-round pairings are quite interesting:
8:47 am: Gustafson, Durdin, Campbell
8:56 am: Iida, Song, Lee
9:05 am: Miyazato, Mogi, Nakata
9:14 am: Tseng, Kim, Shin
9:23 am: Yokomine, Hattori, Pressel
If the final threesome all falter on the front, this would be anyone's tournament. We'll have to wait and see!