Sunday, May 8, 2011

Salonpas Cup Sunday: Sun-Ju Ahn's Closing 33 Garners Her 1st Victory of 2011 and 1st JLPGA Major

Coming into the final round of the JLPGA's 1st major, the Salonpas Cup, the JLPGA's leading money-winner of 2010, Sun-Ju Ahn, had been in the doldrums, stuck outside the top 10 on the JLPGA money list, with 2 stinging Sunday collapses while in contention holding her back to a best finish of only 4th. So even though 3rd-round leader Momoko Ueda opened the door by bogeying 4 of her 1st 10 holes of birdieless golf to drop from -8 to -4, Ahn couldn't have been too happy with her 1-shot lead on Teresa Lu and Miki Saiki, 2-shot lead on Sakura Yokomine, and 3-shot lead on Ueda, given that she had stumbled on her way through it when she erased her birdies on the 1st and 3rd holes with bogeys on both front-side par 3s, the 6th and the 8th, to fall back to -7. And when Saiki tied her with a birdie on the par-5 12th, it would have been easy for Ahn to falter. But instead she birdied 3 of her last 5 holes--each coming on a long or longish par 4--for an emphatic finish that netted her her 5th JLPGA victory and 1st major in only her 31st start on tour.

Ahn's competitors simply couldn't keep pace with her in the home stretch. Ueda did come back to play bogey-free golf over her final 8 holes, but her walkoff birdie was only good enough to tie her for 4th with Yokomine, who had endured a 13-hole par train until she birdied the par-5 17th to get to -6. Saiki just couldn't find another gear, instead getting caught at -7 by Lu's 2 birdies in her last 4 holes to finish at T2. Defending champion Morgan Pressel had earlier closed birdie-par-birdie-birdie-birdie to get to -5, but it was too little, too late to put any pressure on those ahead of her. Still, it meant that she could donate almost two and a half million yen to Japan reconstruction efforts. And although Rikako Morita's early 67 and Hyun-Ju Shin's 68 vaulted them up the leaderboard, they were never a factor.

So here's how the leaders and notables finished:

1st/-10 Sun-Ju Ahn (71-67-71-69)
T2/-7 Miki Saiki (71-72-68-70), Teresa Lu (70-69-71-71)
T4/-6 Sakura Yokomine (74-73-66-69), Momoko Ueda (70-68-70-74)
6th/-5 Morgan Pressel (73-70-71-69)
7th/-3 Hyun-Ju Shin (75-71-71-68)
T8/-2 Mie Nakata (75-72-69-70), Ji-Hee Lee (75-69-71-71), Mayu Hattori (70-70-74-72)

T11/E Na-Ri Lee (75-68-74-71), Yuki Ichinose (73-70-70-75)
T13/+1 Rikako Morita (76-71-75-67), Hiromi Mogi (76-71-73-69), Rui Kitada (73-72-71-73), Megumi Kido (72-69-74-74)
T19/+2 Shinobu Moromizato (76-72-71-71), Miki Sakai (75-72-71-72), Inbee Park (74-70-72-74)
T22/+3 Mika Miyazato (72-74-74-71), So-Hee Kim (72-74-70-75), Chie Arimura (75-67-71-78)
T25/+4 Ayako Uehara (72-76-72-72), Meena Lee (73-70-77-72), Shiho Oyama (75-70-72-75), Nikki Campbell (71-73-73-75), Yuri Fudoh (69-73-75-75), Bo-Mee Lee (70-71-72-79)
T31/+5 Ji-Woo Lee (72-73-76-72), He-Yong Choi (76-72-72-73), Li-Ying Ye (72-75-72-74), Akiko Fukushima (73-72-74-74), Yuko Mitsuka (73-71-75-74)
T36/+6 Yumiko Yoshida (71-74-75-74), Maiko Wakabayashi (75-72-71-76), Tamie Durdin (75-67-76-76)
T39/+7 Na Yeon Choi (77-71-75-72), Saiki Fujita (77-71-72-75)
T42/+8 Kaori Aoyama (75-72-75-74), Soo-Yun Kang (76-72-73-75), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (76-71-72-77)
T45/+9 Esther Lee (75-73-74-75), Hee Young Park (70-73-78-76), Mika Takushima (74-73-72-78)
T49/+10 Ai Miyazato (76-71-77-74), Ji-Na Lim (75-70-78-75), Tao-Li Yang (73-75-73-77), Lala Anai (74-70-77-77)
T55/+13 Julie Lu (73-74-76-78)
57th/+14 Na-Ri Kim (75-70-81-76)

It was a humbling week for former world #1 Ai Miyazato, 2010 JLPGA Q-School medallist Hee Young Park, and fellow LPGAer and world #4 Na Yeon Choi (even though she did eagle the 17th today!), a disappointing one for JLPGA greats Yuri Fudoh, Akiko Fukushima, and Shiho Oyama and for KLPGA stars Bo-Mee Lee and He-Yong Choi, and an unpleasant one for Mika Miyazato, Inbee Park, and Chie Arimura, who all entered the week with high hopes but had 2 too many bad rounds. It just goes to show how great Ahn played this week. Lu was the only player in the field to match her feat of firing 4 sub-par rounds.

Ahn's major victory catapulted her atop the 2011 JLPGA money list:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥29.30M
2. Yuri Fudoh ¥27.42M
3. Miki Saiki ¥22.64M
4. Kumiko Kaneda ¥18.48M
5. Inbee Park ¥17.64M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥15.14M
7. Teresa Lu ¥11.50M
8. Momoko Ueda ¥11.39M
9. Ji-Yai Shin ¥10.67M
10. Sakura Yokomine ¥10.10M
11. Yukari Baba ¥9.19M
12. Chie Arimura ¥8.97M
13. Saiki Fujita ¥8.44M
14. Ji-Woo Lee ¥8.43M
15. Bo-Mee Lee ¥7.49M
16. Bo-Bae Song ¥7.26M
17. Rui Kitada ¥6.40M
18. Shinobu Moromizato ¥6.11M
19. Yumiko Yoshida ¥5.86M
20. Rikako Morita ¥5.66M
21. Young Kim ¥5.64M
22. Mie Nakata ¥5.39M
23. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥5.29M
24. Asako Fujimoto ¥5.20M
25. Mayu Hattori ¥5.12M
26. Hiromi Mogi ¥4.80M
27. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥4.78M
28. Shiho Oyama ¥4.69M
29. Akiko Fukushima ¥4.66M
30. Lala Anai ¥3.95M
31. Yuki Ichinose ¥3.81M
32. Na-Ri Lee ¥3.64M
33. Na-Ri Kim ¥3.26M
34. Soo-Yun Kang ¥3.19M
35. Akane Iijima ¥3.09M

It's early in the season, to be sure, but there are lots of big-name players outside the top 50, which puts some added pressure on them to avoid Q-School. Ai Miyazato is tied for 87th, Shanshan Feng is 76th, He-Yong Choi 68th, Tamie Durdin 61st, Yuko Mitsuka 53rd, Meena Lee 52nd. Let's see how many of them end up playing in the Fundokin Ladies next week! (Right now Na Yeon Choi, Momoko Ueda, Mika Miyazato, Teresa Lu, Shiho Oyama, Meena Lee, and Soo-Yun Kang are scheduled to play.)

No comments: