So far in 2011 Mi-Jeong Jeon has been suffering through her most disappointing season in a storied JLPGA career highlighted by 16 wins in 7 years. You have to go back to 2005 to find a year in which she didn't win at all on tour, but since then she's never won fewer than 3 times per season. Although she hasn't played consistently great golf this week at the Nitori Ladies, she's made birdies in bunches--4 on the back 9 yesterday, and 2 early on the front and late on the back today--to join a huge logjam at the top of the leaderboard. She's tied at -4 with ex-LPGAer Na-Ri Kim, up-and-coming JLPGA star Ritsuko Ryu, China's Li-Ying Ye, veteran Junko Omote, and youngster Yui Mukaiyama. But with 33 golfers within 5 shots of the lead--including Chie Arimura looking to make it 2 wins in a row only 1 back and fellow Korean stars Sun-Ju Ahn, Bo-Mee Lee, Bo-Bae Song, and Soo-Yun Kang 2 behind--anything can happen.
Here's a quick survey of who has a chance to win tomorrow, along with notables who either just made the cut or missed it:
T1/-4 Ritsuko Ryu (72-68), Li-Ying Ye (72-68), Na-Ri Kim (70-70), Mi-Jeong Jeon (69-71), Junko Omote (69-71), Yui Mukaiyama (68-72)
T7/-3 Yuko Mitsuka (73-68), Chie Arimura (72-69), Hiromi Takesue (71-70), Yumiko Yoshida (71-70)
T11/-2 Bo-Mee Lee (72-70), Bo-Bae Song (71-71), Sun-Ju Ahn (70-72), So-Hee Kim (70-72), Soo-Yun Kang (69-73)
T20/-1 Mika Takushima (74-69), Erika Kikuchi (72-71), Na-Ri Lee (71-72), Pei-Ying Tsai (70-73)
T28/E Megumi Kido (74-70), Kumiko Kaneda (72-72)
T31/+1 Ji-Hee Lee (71-74)
T34/+2 Teresa Lu (75-71), Yuki Sakurai (75-69), Miki Saiki (73-73), Rui Kitada (73-73), Julie Lu (73-73), Akane Iijima (72-74), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-74), Esther Lee (72-74)
T46/+3 Yukari Baba (75-72), Shiho Oyama (74-73), Rikako Morita (74-73), Sakura Yokomine (73-74), Ayako Uehara (72-75), Ji-Woo Lee (72-75), Mayu Hattori (72-75), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-75), Tamie Durdin (70-77)
T59/+4 Tao-Li Yang (74-74), Hiromi Mogi (73-75)
MC: Yuri Fudoh (79-70), Ah-Reum Hwang (75-74), Yun-Jye Wei (75-74), Aiko Ueno (75-74), Hyun-Ju Shin (74-75), Asako Fujimoto (74-75), Lala Anai (74-75), Eun-Bi Jang (73-76), Yuki Ichinose (79-71), Miki Uehara (77-73), Mie Nakata (76-74), Shinobu Moromizato (76-75), Erina Hara (75-76), Ji-Na Lim (75-76), Saiki Fujita (72-81), Miki Sakai (82-74)
WD: Eun-A Lim
It would be a huge story if Yuko Mitsuka were to finally rejoin the JLPGA's elite with a win tomorrow; she's probably the biggest dark horse among the big names near the top of the leaderboard, as she hasn't played well at all since being exiled from the tour for half of last season. And of course a win by the unheralded Mukaiyama (who's never made the top 10 in her 5 years on tour) would be a huge shock. Looking forward to the final-round results!