Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nitori Ladies Sunday: Ritsuko Ryu Gets 1st JLPGA Win in Style

Ritsuko Ryu hadn't even found the top 10 on the JLPGA since the 1st week of June, but she birdied 3 of her last 6 holes of the Nitori Ladies today to blow by some of the biggest names on tour for her 1st career win.

A Ryu win looked unlikely after the 1st 12 holes of play. Her bogey on the 403-yard par-4 12th dropped her to -4, 2 shots behind playing partner Junko Omote and Hiromi Takesue (who had made 5 birdies in a 6-hole stretch to get to -7 for the tournament but followed that run up with 2 bogeys in a row before birdieing the 489-yard par-5 14th), 1 shot behind Mi-Jeong Jeon and Na-Ri Kim, and tied with Chie Arimura. But then her competitors stumbled or stalled. Takesue would double the par-4 15th and bogey the par-3 16th to fall off the map. Jeon would par out, having failed to birdie a hole since the par-3 8th. Kim would torpedo her chances with a bogey on the par-5 14th. Arimura played the best of the bunch, going -1 over her last 6 holes of bogey-free golf, but it wouldn't be enough to keep pace with Ryu's charge. In the end it came down to the playing partners: would it be the veteran Omote, with 2 wins in her 15-year career (both coming in 2005), who birdied the 14th to get to -7, or the 23-year-old Ryu, who birdied par-4s 13 and 15 to pull 1 behind her? Omote blinked 1st, with a bogey on the 380-yard par-4 17th. And then Ryu sealed the win with a walkoff birdie on the 397-yard 18th that Omote simply couldn't match.

Here's how the leaderboard looked when all the dust had settled:

1st/-7 Ritsuko Ryu (72-68-69)
2nd/-6 Junko Omote (69-71-70)
T3/-5 Chie Arimura (72-69-70), Na-Ri Kim (70-70-71), Mi-Jeong Jeon (69-71-71)
T6/-3 Shiho Toyonaga (69-75-69), Yui Kawahara (70-73-70), Sun-Ju Ahn (70-72-71), Hiromi Takesue (71-70-72)
T10/-2 Mayu Hattori (72-75-67), Esther Lee (72-74-68), Kaori Ohe (71-74-69), So-Hee Kim (70-72-72), Soo-Yun Kang (69-73-72), Yumiko Yoshida (71-70-73), Yui Mukaiyama (68-72-74)

17th/-1 Li-Ying Ye (72-68-75)
T18/E Rikako Morita (74-73-69), Tamie Durdin (70-77-69), Teresa Lu (75-71-70), Ji-Hee Lee (71-74-71), Mika Takushima (74-69-73), Bo-Mee Lee (72-70-74), Yuko Mitsuka (73-68-75)

T25/+1 Sakura Yokomine (73-74-70), Maiko Wakabayashi (72-75-70), Julie Lu (73-73-71), Megumi Kido (74-70-73), Kumiko Kaneda (72-72-73)
T32/+2 Erika Kikuchi (72-71-75), Bo-Bae Song (71-71-76)
T38/+3 Ayako Uehara (72-75-72)
T42/+4 Hiromi Mogi (73-75-72), Yuki Sakurai (75-69-74), Pei-Ying Tsai (70-73-77)
T49/+5 Yukari Baba (75-72-74), Shiho Oyama (74-73-74), Ji-Woo Lee (72-75-74), Akane Iijima (72-74-75), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-74-75)
T54/+6 Rui Kitada (73-73-76), Na-Ri Lee (71-72-79)
T62/+9 Miki Saiki (73-73-79)
65th/+11 Tao-Li Yang (74-74-79)

With the indifferent play of Sakura Yokomine and Ji-Hee Lee and the final-round collapse of Miki Saiki, the JLPGA money list is looking increasingly like a 2-player race to the finish. And Ryu finds herself in the JLPGA elite's 3rd tier all of a sudden with her win.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥70.99M
2. Chie Arimura ¥62.02M
3. Miki Saiki ¥57.08M
4. Ji-Hee Lee ¥56.51M
5. Sakura Yokomine ¥52.22M
6. Yuri Fudoh ¥36.32M
7. Ritsuko Ryu ¥30.34M
8. Hiromi Mogi ¥29.48M
9. Rui Kitada ¥29.18M
10. Ayako Uehara ¥27.57M
11. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
12. Kumiko Kaneda ¥23.72M
13. Bo-Bae Song ¥22.86M
14. Junko Omote ¥21.89M
15. Yukari Baba ¥21.48M
16. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥21.16M
17. Rikako Morita ¥19.64M
18. Mayu Hattori ¥19.36M
19. Shanshan Feng ¥18.92M
20. Na-Ri Kim ¥18.62M
21. Asako Fujimoto ¥18.16M
22. Saiki Fujita ¥16.86M
23. Teresa Lu ¥16.12M
24. Akiko Fukushima ¥15.97M
25. Ji-Woo Lee ¥15.54M
26. Bo-Mee Lee ¥15.44M
27. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥14.40M
28. Shinobu Moromizato ¥14.33M
29. Eun-A Lim ¥13.99M
30. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥13.97M
31. Momoko Ueda ¥13.77M
32. Na-Ri Lee ¥13.56M
33. Esther Lee ¥13.42M
34. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.31M
35. Eun-Bi Jang ¥12.77M
36. Shiho Oyama ¥12.38M
37. Young Kim ¥12.29M
38. Ji-Yai Shin ¥11.91M
39. So-Hee Kim ¥11.91M
40. Akane Iijima ¥11.35M
41. Kaori Aoyama ¥11.13M
42. Yumiko Yoshida ¥11.07M
43. Miho Koga ¥10.67M
44. Nikki Campbell ¥10.58M
45. Mie Nakata ¥10.25M
46. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥9.37M
47. Megumi Kido ¥8.79M
48. Li-Ying Ye ¥8.29M
49. Yuki Ichinose ¥8.16M
50. Satsuki Oshiro ¥7.98M

With the Golf5 Ladies next week leading up to the 2nd JLPGA major of the year, the Konica Minolta Cup, the following week, it'll be interesting to see whether any dual LPGA-JLPGA members decide to skip the Walmart (and, if so, probably the Navistar) LPGA tournaments in September. Frankly, with the Solheim Cup not involving Asian players and the new China LPGA event opposite the biggest JLPGA event of the year, the Japan Women's Open, I wouldn't blame anyone for ditching the LPGA all September. Ai Miyazato has only 3 JLPGA starts and Hee Young Park has only 4; both need to get to 7 and climb into the top 50 to keep their cards. Right now the only names I spot are Shanshan Feng in both events and Teresa Lu and Momoko Ueda in the Konica Minolta Cup, but the field lists are likely to change in the next couple of days. As for the JWO, both Miyazatos have already committed, as have Inbee Park, Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, and Eun-Hee Ji. We'll see if that field list expands over the course of the month, as well. September is huge on the JLPGA and it should be a very interesting month!

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