Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nichirei Ladies Sunday: Ji-Hee Lee Goes Low for 14th Career JLPGA Victory

Ji-Hee Lee fired a 7-birdie 67 in the final round of the Nichirei Ladies to secure her 14th career JLPGA victory by 2 shots over Miki Saiki. The roller-coaster battle was decided over the final 4 holes in dramatic fashion, in which Lee birdied 3 of them and Saiki could only manage 2 and a bogey.

Lee and Saiki were tied at the start of the round and at many times throughout it. After they both birdied the 1st hole, Lee fell 2 shots behind Saiki when Lee bogeyed the medium-length par 4 and Saiki birdied it, but their roles were reversed on the very next hole, coincidentally enough another medium-length par 4. Saiki then took the lead with a birdie on the 193-yard par 3 but gave it away 2 holes later with a bogey on the very next par 3. Lee took her 1st lead of the day with a birdie on the very next hole, the par-5 7th, but Saiki matched it with a birdie on the par-4 8th. Lee bogeyed the par-5 10th to fall behind again but bounced back with a birdie on the par-3 11th. Saiki returned the favor with a birdie-bogey combo on the 13th and 14th, so they were tied at -9 with 4 holes to play. Na-Ri Lee and Junko Omote had gone low earlier in the day with a 66 and a 67, respectively, to stand as co-leaders-in-the-clubhouse at that same number, so the outcome was in serious doubt, but Lee and Saiki both birdied the par-4 15th to knock them out of the running. The tide turned in Lee's favor for good when Saiki bogeyed the long par 4 to fall back to -9 and Lee birdied the long par 3 to get to -11. After Lee matched Saiki's walkoff birdie, she had her 14th JLPGA win and first since last August.

Here's how the leaders and notables ended up:

1st/-12 Ji-Hee Lee (68-69-67)
2nd/-10 Miki Saiki (68-69-69)
T3/-9 Na-Ri Lee (70-71-66), Junko Omote (72-68-67)
5th/-8 Sun-Ju Ahn (71-69-68)
T6/-7 Yuri Fudoh (72-70-67), Sakura Yokomine (72-67-70)
8th/-6 Inbee Park (72-69-69)
T9/-5 Hyun-Ju Shin (76-68-67), Na-Ri Kim (71-73-67), Teresa Lu (72-71-68), Asako Fujimoto (72-71-68), Kaori Ohe (72-70-69), Esther Lee (70-72-69), Ikue Asama (72-70-69), Kaori Yamamoto (72-70-69), Chie Arimura (73-68-70), Mi-Jeong Jeon (71-70-70), Bo-Mee Lee (70-71-70)

T20/-4 Akane Iijima (73-70-69)
T22/-3 Mayu Hattori (73-71-69), Yun-Jye Wei (72-70-71), Ayako Uehara (72-69-72), Shiho Oyama (71-70-72), Eun-Bi Jang (71-70-72), Young Kim (69-72-72), So-Hee Kim (70-69-74)
T30/-2 Nikki Campbell (74-71-69), Ritsuko Ryu (74-69-71)
T33/-1 Yuki Ichinose (75-70-70), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-73-70), Hiromi Mogi (71-73-71), Rikako Morita (72-70-73)
T39/E Rui Kitada (76-68-72), Yuko Mitsuka (72-72-72)
T42/+1 Erika Kikuchi (72-73-72)
T44/+2 Lala Anai (74-71-73)
T48/+6 Soo-Yun Kang (73-72-77)

With her win, Lee moves up to #3 on the JLPGA money list:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥54.42M
2. Miki Saiki ¥46.32M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥45.31M
4. Sakura Yokomine ¥37.59M
5. Yuri Fudoh ¥33.10M
6. Hiromi Mogi ¥27.86M
7. Rui Kitada ¥25.01M
8. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
9. Chie Arimura ¥22.30M
10. Kumiko Kaneda ¥19.90M
11. Yukari Baba ¥15.73M
12. Teresa Lu ¥13.83M
13. Momoko Ueda ¥13.77M
14. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥13.71M
15. Ji-Woo Lee ¥13.02M
16. Ayako Uehara ¥12.91M
17. Mayu Hattori ¥12.11M
18. Bo-Mee Lee ¥12.05M
19. Ritsuko Ryu ¥11.92M
20. Saiki Fujita ¥10.86M
21. Na-Ri Lee ¥10.69M
22. Ji-Yai Shin ¥10.67M
23. Rikako Morita ¥10.17M
24. Mie Nakata ¥10.02M
25. Young Kim ¥10.01M
26. Junko Omote ¥9.41M
27. Kaori Aoyama ¥9.29M
28. Nikki Campbell ¥9.03M
29. Bo-Bae Song ¥8.94M
30. Esther Lee ¥8.68M
31. Yumiko Yoshida ¥8.36M
32. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥8.12M
33. Eun-A Lim ¥8.08M
34. Asako Fujimoto ¥8.04M
35. Akane Iijima ¥8.01M
36. Akiko Fukushima ¥8.01M
37. So-Hee Kim ¥7.95M
38. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥7.72M
39. Shiho Oyama ¥7.70M
40. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.63M
41. Megumi Kido ¥7.07M
42. Satsuki Oshiro ¥6.86M
43. Na-Ri Kim ¥6.42M
44. Yuki Ichinose ¥6.00M
45. Soo-Yun Kang ¥5.37M
46. Ji-Na Lim ¥4.79M
47. Miki Sakai ¥4.77M
48. Kaori Ohe ¥4.58M
49. Eun-Bi Jang ¥4.54M
50. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥4.49M

Ahn's walkoff eagle helped keep her atop the money list, but the race is tightening up. Next event is the Nichi-Iko Ladies Open in July. Chie Arimura, Inbee Park, and Teresa Lu are headed over to the Wegmans LPGA Championship this coming week. I hope to catch up with them there!

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