Saiki Fujita couldn't manage to break 70 for the 3rd-straight round in the JLPGA's 2nd major, the Konica Minolta Cup, but today's 4-birdie, 3-bogey 71 was good enough for her to maintain her 4-shot lead on her nearest pursuers. Great rounds by Yukari Baba (67, -6), Nikki Campbell (68, -5), and Maiko Wakabayashi (69, -5) brought them into the lead chase pack. But even though Sakura Yokomine birdied 3 holes in a row to close out the front, 8 pars and a walkoff double bogey later, she had fallen another stroke off the pace and joined Campbell and Wakabayashi 5 shots behind Fujita. And fine 68s by former KLPGAer Sun-Ju Ahn and former LPGAer Young Kim still left them 6 back with only 18 holes left to play.
Meanwhile, the struggles of prominent JLPGAers continued and even intensified. Defending champion Shinobu Moromizato's 75 made her opening 66 even more of a distant memory. Career money-list leader and the JLPGA's only billion-yen woman Yuri Fudoh's 77 dropped her back to the middle of the pack. Momoko Ueda's 76 raised the specter of 2010 being the worst season of her professional career. And Miho Koga's 72 left her 15 shots off the pace.
Here's how the leaders and notables stand heading into the final round:
1st/-10 Saiki Fujita (67-68-71)
2nd/-6 Yukari Baba (71-72-67)
T3/-5 Nikki Campbell (71-72-68), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-70-69), Sakura Yokomine (71-68-72)
T6/-4 Young Kim (74-70-68), Sun-Ju Ahn (73-71-68), Hiromi Takesue (72-69-71)
T9/-3 Bo-Bae Song (71-72-69), Rui Kitada (73-67-73), Hiromi Mogi (69-70-74)
T12/-1 Na-Ri Kim (74-69-72), Shinobu Moromizato (66-74-75)
T14/E Tamie Durdin (76-68-72), Chie Arimura (69-74-73)
T16/+1 Mi-Jeong Jeon (73-71-73), Na-Ri Lee (73-70-74), Mayu Hattori (70-73-74), Ah-Reum Hwang (72-70-75), Ji-Woo Lee (71-71-75)
T21/+2 Akiko Fukushima (71-77-70), Li-Ying Ye (73-72-73), Hyun-Ju Shin (72-73-73), Eun-A Lim (71-73-74)
T25/+3 Akane Iijima (74-71-74), Yuri Fudoh (73-69-77)
T28/+4 Kaori Aoyama (74-70-76)
T31/+5 Miho Koga (76-73-72), Yun-Jye Wei (72-76-73)
T35/+6 Miki Saiki (73-74-75), Mie Nakata (73-69-80)
T42/+8 Ayako Uehara (78-73-73), Momoko Ueda (76-72-76)
T52/+9 Chieko Amanuma (74-76-75), Yuki Ichinose (72-74-79)
T55/+10 Shiho Oyama (79-72-75), Jae-Hee Bae (76-75-75), Yuko Mitsuka (75-76-75)
T66/+13 Ok-Hee Ku (74-77-78)
If Fujita can make it 4-straight under-par rounds, her 4th career JLPGA victory and 1st major will be hers. Even if she opens the door tomorrow, I wonder if anyone else will be able to step through it?