Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fujitsu Ladies Overview: Saiki Fujita Denies Sun-Ju Ahn 2nd-Straight Title Defense

Chie Arimura may have gotten to throw out the 1st pitch at a recent Yomiuri Giants game, but it was Sun-Ju Ahn who was gunning for her 2nd-straight title defense on the JLPGA this week at the Fujitsu Ladies.  The 2011 money-list leader and winner of 4 JLPGA events already this year stayed within striking distance of leader Mayu Hattori over the 1st 2 rounds, shooting a 66 to her 67 on Friday and matching her 72 on Saturday

Playing from the penultimate pairing today, Ahn stumbled with back-to-back bogeys early in her round, but immediately bounced back with 2 birdies in a row to return to -5 with 13 holes left to play.  Hattori, who also started her day badly with back-to-back bogeys from the final pairing, would never recover and was never a factor in the final round, but her playing partner Saiki Fujita, who had caught Ahn at -5 with a fine 68 on moving day, took the lead at -7 with birdies at the very same holes that Ahn had bogeyed just minutes earlier.  Even though Fujita made 2 birdies, 2 bogeys, and 2 pars over her next 6 holes, she maintained her 2-shot lead on Ahn, who parred the 6th through the 12th holes.  However, when Fujita bogeyed the 405-yard par-4 11th and 381-yard par-4 14th and Ahn birdied the 160-yard par-3 13th and 374-yard par-4 15th ahead of her, the tables had turned and Ahn lead Fujita by 1, -7 to -6, with only a few holes to go.  Could Ahn hold on for her 5th win of the season?  Could Fujita, who hadn't even played competitively since withdrawing from the Japan Women's Open, right the ship and hold off the most dominant player on the JLPGA? 

Fujita struck 1st with a birdie on the 15th to get back to -7 and tie Ahn for the lead.  Surprisingly, it was Ahn who blinked, failing to birdie the par-5 16th, bogeying the long par-3 17th, and failing to birdie the long par-4 18th.  All Fujita needed to win was to stay at -7 and that's exactly what she did, securing her 5th career JLPGA victory with 3 pars in a row.  Other players made runs at the top of the leaderboard--most notably Rikako Morita, who birdied 5 holes between the 5th and 13th to get to -6 before playing her last 5 holes birdieless and +2, and Tamie Durdin, whose 6-birdie 68 moved her all the way to T3 at -5 and into the top 50 of the JLPGA money list for the 1st time in months--but in the end it was Saiki Fujita who denied Sun-Ju Ahn a place in the record books.

Here's how the leaders and notables ended up:

1st/-7 Saiki Fujita (71-68-70)
2nd/-6 Sun-Ju Ahn (67-72-71)
T3/-5 Tamie Durdin (68-75-68), Asako Fujimoto (70-71-70), Mihoko Iseri (68-72-71)
T6/-4 Rikako Morita (72-71-69), Na-Ri Kim (68-74-70)
T8/-3 Shiho Oyama (73-72-68), Miki Uehara (67-77-69), Nikki Campbell (71-72-70), Akane Iijima (71-71-71), Yui Mukaiyama (70-69-74)

T13/-2 Harukyo Nomura (70-73-71), Ritsuko Ryu (69-72-73), Ayako Uehara (66-74-74), Mayu Hattori (66-72-76)
T17/-1 Rui Kitada (74-72-69)
T19/E Yun-Jye Wei (72-75-69), Hyun-Ju Shin (72-73-73), Kumiko Kaneda (71-74-73), Kaori Aoyama (69-71-75), Kaori Ohe (70-71-76)
T27/+1 Na-Ri Lee (74-72-71), Soo-Yun Kang (75-71-71), Yuki Ichinose (72-71-74), Lala Anai (71-71-75)
T31/+2 Young Kim (73-73-72), Erika Kikuchi (72-73-73), Miho Koga (70-73-75)
T34/+3 Junko Omote (74-73-72), Eun-A Lim (72-73-74), Yukari Baba (70-75-74), Sakura Yokomine (72-72-75)
T39/+4 Ji-Na Lim (71-72-77)
T44/+5 Li-Ying Ye (75-71-75)
T49/+7 Erina Hara (74-74-75), Megumi Kido (73-75-75), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (71-75-77)
T54/+8 Yumiko Yoshida (74-74-76), Julie Lu (71-76-77)

MC:  Maiko Wakabayashi (73-76), Teresa Lu (74-76), Miki Sakai (74-76), Esther Lee (73-77), Aiko Ueno (74-77), Ji-Woo Lee (75-77), Erina Yamato (75-77), Pei-Ying Tsai (74-78), So-Hee Kim (78-75), Mika Takushima (78-75)
WD:  Miki Saiki (71-WD)

Even with her runner-up finish, Ahn extended her already-huge lead on the JLPGA money list over the struggling Sakura Yokomine and Yukari Baba, idle Ji-Hee Lee, Chie Arimura, and Yuri Fudoh, and withdrawn Miki Saiki.  It doesn't look like anyone's in a position to pose a threat to her 2nd-straight year of JLPGA domination.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥110.68M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥73.20M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥69.77M
4. Chie Arimura ¥67.73M
5. Miki Saiki ¥61.44M
6. Yukari Baba ¥52.88M
7. Yuri Fudoh ¥52.17M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥51.27M
9. Shanshan Feng ¥45.79M
10. Mayu Hattori ¥43.46M
11. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥38.68M
12. Kumiko Kaneda ¥36.94M
13. Saiki Fujita ¥36.37M
14. Ayako Uehara ¥34.52M
15. Rui Kitada ¥34.50M
16. Hiromi Mogi ¥34.48M
17. Rikako Morita ¥30.81M
18. Bo-Bae Song ¥30.49M
19. Junko Omote ¥29.89M
20. Na-Ri Kim ¥29.61M
21. Yuko Mitsuka ¥29.37M
22. Asako Fujimoto ¥28.11M
23. Shiho Oyama ¥27.90M
24. Ji-Woo Lee ¥26.58M
25. Li-Ying Ye ¥25.09M
26. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
27. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥24.09M
28. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥24.07M
29. Akiko Fukushima ¥21.64M
30. Eun-Bi Jang ¥20.82M
31. Young Kim ¥20.64M
32. Soo-Yun Kang ¥20.63M
33. Kaori Aoyama ¥19.45M
34. Eun-A Lim ¥19.12M
35. Teresa Lu ¥18.40M
36. Akane Iijima ¥18.02M
37. Na-Ri Lee ¥17.66M
38. Esther Lee ¥17.33M
39. Shinobu Moromizato ¥17.30M
40. Bo-Mee Lee ¥17.07M
41. Nikki Campbell ¥15.80M
42. Momoko Ueda ¥15.53M
43. Tamie Durdin ¥14.82M
44. Nachiyo Ohtani ¥14.10M
45. Yumiko Yoshida ¥13.98M
46. So-Hee Kim ¥13.81M
47. Miho Koga ¥13.34M
48. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥12.82M
49. Megumi Kido ¥12.55M
50. Satsuki Oshiro¥12.48M

With Ji-Yai Shin now #53 on the money list, followed by Ai Miyazato at #67, Harukyo Nomura at #78, Hee Young Park at #89, and Meena Lee at #101, no field list as of yet for next week's Masters GC Ladies but commitments by all the dual LPGA-JLPGA members except Shanshan Feng and Nomura to the LPGA's new Taiwan event, and only Feng, Inbee Park, Shin, Nomura, and Lee (along with non-members Na Yeon Choi and Mika Miyazato) joining in the fun the following week, it's looking like it's all going to come down to the Mizuno Classic to determine who will avoid having to go to JLPGA Q-School or lose their 2012 card.

Frankly, it's mystifying to me why Ai Miyazato is apparently skipping the Hisako Higuchi event the week before the Mizuno.  Not only does it put even more pressure on her, as she'll need to win the Mizuno to move into the top 50, but even then that would only be only her 6th event on the JLPGA of 2011.  As I understand the tour's new membership rules, she'll need to play 7 events this season and finish in the top 50 on the money list to keep her card in 2012.  Sure, if she wins the Mizuno, she'll qualify for the season-ending major, the Ricoh Cup, the week after the final LPGA event of 2011, and everything will be fine, if a bit hectic in November.  But if she doesn't, she's going to have to rely on sponsor exemptions (like Mika Miyazato does) to enter JLPGA events in 2012, which means that her season winnings wouldn't be counted toward her career winnings--unless she decides to play JLPGA Q-School the week of the Ricoh Cup to retain her card!  How weird would that be?!

1 comment:

thejamierbelyea said...

Perhaps, I'm a bit behind, but I hadnt realized Teresa Lu has completely left the LPGA for the JLPGA.

She's not even in the field for the Taiwan event, and I'm sure she would've received a sponsor's invite if she requested one..