Rui Kitada shot her 2nd-straight 70 at the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open today to take a 1-shot lead over Eun-A Lim and Na-Ri Lee into tomorrow's final round. The secret to Kitada's success thus far has been limiting her mistakes to 4 bogeys over her 1st 36 holes. By contrast, everyone who broke 70 yesterday went over par today, none worse than Momoko Ueda, who stumbled to a 75 that drops her 4 shots off the pace. Still, she's doing better than some of the other huge names in the tournament. Sakura Yokomine just missed missing the cut, while her playing partner Ji-Yai Shin is stuck in the middle of the pack after failing to mount an early move on moving day. Ya Ni Tseng is in a big group 5 shots behind Kitada, courtesy of a triple bogey on the medium-length par-4 17th hole. The only player from among the JLPGA's irregulars to make a serious move today was Mika Miyazato, but she, too, got derailed after going on a 3-hole birdie train midway through the front and had to settle for a 70. Even Inbee Park is 3 shots off the pace after offsetting her 5 birdies with 4 bogeys today.
Here's how the leaders and notables stand after round 2:
1st/-4 Rui Kitada (70-70)
T2/-3 Na-Ri Lee (71-70), Eun-A Lim (70-71)
T4/-2 Mika Miyazato (72-70), Li-Ying Ye (69-73), Yoko Inoue (68-74)
T7/-1 Erika Kikuchi (73-70), Inbee Park (72-71), Shinobu Moromizato (72-71), Maiko Wakabayashi (70-73)
T11/E Saiki Fujita (74-70), Shiho Oyama (71-73), Momoko Ueda (69-75)
T14/+1 Chie Arimura (73-72), Teresa Lu (73-72), Asako Fujimoto (73-72), Yuki Ichinose (73-72), Ya Ni Tseng (72-73), Ji-Hee Lee (72-73), Akane Iijima (71-74)
T23/+2 Mi-Jeong Jeon (75-71)
T28/+3 Ji-Yai Shin (75-72)
T32/+4 Esther Lee (76-72), Ayako Uehara (75-73), Mayu Hattori (72-76)
T39/+5 Rikako Morita (76-73), Kyung-Min Lin (76-73), Kaori Aoyama (74-75), Erina Hara (74-75), Hiromi Takesue (73-76), Miki Saiki (72-77)
T47/+6 Tamie Durdin (76-74), So-Hee Kim (76-74), Sakura Yokomine (75-75), Nikki Campbell (75-75), Mie Nakata (73-77)
MC: Yuko Mitsuka (75-76), Ritsuko Ryu (75-77), Akiko Fukushima (76-77), Hyun-Ju Shin (75-78)
As you can see, there are 22 players within 5 shots of the lead and only the 3 leading players who have managed to stay under par both rounds. If they falter tomorrow, this could be anyone's tournament. Even with so many pursuers, however, the ball's still in Kitada's court heading into the final round. The 6-time winner on the JLPGA could put her 2010 in the running for her best season ever with a win tomorrow. Back in 2004, she won 3 times and ended up 3rd on the money list. If she's able to hold off her challengers, she'd join the ranks of this season's repeat winners, guarantee that she'll earn more than in any other season in her career, and put herself in position to challenge the Big 3 atop the JLPGA's 2010 money-list. Let's see if she can do it!