Sunday, October 23, 2011

Masters GC Sunday: Shiho Oyama Forces Playoff with Paula Creamer, Beats Her for 1st Win since 2008

Paula Creamer won the Masters GC Ladies in 2005 and the way she played today, it was sure looking like she'd pick up her 2nd title at this event and 3rd career JLPGA win.  Starting the day at even par from back in the pack, she birdied 4 of her last 6 holes on the front, then followed it with 3 more birdies in her 1st 6 holes on the back.  Ahead of her, Na-Ri Lee was belting out a birdie barrage of her own, with 5 birdies between her 7th and 15th holes to get to -5 for the week, but when 1st Lee and then Creamer parred out over their last 3 holes, it was the LPGA superstar who was sitting pretty as leader in the clubhouse, waiting to see if today would be the day she'd get her 1st win since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont.

How would the 2nd-round leaders respond to these pyrotechnics from Creamer and Lee?  By making a torrent of birdies of their own!  Well, not all of them--Billion-Yen Woman Yuri Fudoh, who started the day tied for the lead, could get only 1 all day, while money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn came back from a pair of early bogeys with 3 birdies in her last 12 holes--but even though the big cats' A-games were away, those who made moves of their own were anything but mousy about it.  In fact, playing in the next-to-last group, Shiho Oyama and Ayako Uehara played a cat-and-mouse game of their own for much of the day.  Both players got to -4 for the week when they birdied the 162-yard par-3 4th, although it was Uehara's 1st and Oyama's 2nd of the day.  Although Uehara would bogey the next hole and Oyama the hole after that, they both would respond with a run of bogey-free golf punctuated by 3 birdies each, the latter between the 7th and 14th holes and the former between the 11th and 16th to join 2nd-round co-leader Yukari Baba from the final group at -6 (Baba had offset her 2 birdies with 2 bogeys over her 1st 12 holes, but bounced back with back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14).  So down the stretch there were 3 players with a chance to catch or pass Creamer. 

But only Oyama could get another birdie the rest of the way--hers came at the last second, on the 365-yard par-4 18th, by virtue of a bomb from over 50 feet--so it would come down to a playoff between a pair of golfers who were looking to reestablish their reputations after coming back from surgery and rehab.  From what I can tell from the JLPGA site, Oyama won the battle of the comeback kids on the 3rd playoff hole with a birdie putt of about 10 feet for her 1st JLPGA victory since 2008 and the 12th of her illustrious career.  What a way to end a drought!

Here's how the leaders and notables ended up:

1st/-7 Shiho Oyama (72-70-67) [won in playoff]
2nd/-7 Paula Creamer (72-72-65)
3rd/-6 Ayako Uehara (71-70-69)
T4/-5 Na-Ri Lee (72-72-67), Yukari Baba (72-68-71)
6th/-4 Akane Iijima (72-69-71)
T7/-3 Sun-Ju Ahn (70-72-71); ? Kawagishi [a] (76-71-66)
T9/-2 Ritsuko Ryu (75-69-70), Yuri Fudoh (69-71-74)

T11/E  Megumi Kido (73-75-68), Ji-Hee Lee (72-72-72)
T13/+1 Mi-Jeong Jeon (75-72-70), Saiki Fujita (73-74-70), Chie Arimura (73-73-71), Esther Lee (74-71-72), Yumiko Yoshida (71-71-75)
T19/+2 Onnarin Sattayabanphot (74-73-71), Miho Koga (71-75-72), Ji-Woo Lee (72-73-73), Mamiko Higa [a] (76-68-74), Harukyo Nomura (72-72-74),
T25/+3 Eun-A Lim (74-75-70), Soo-Yun Kang (73-74-72), Maiko Wakabayashi (71-75-73), Kaori Aoyama (72-73-74), Na-Ri Kim (70-74-75)
T32/+4 Tamie Durdin (76-73-71), Miki Sakai (75-72-73), Asako Fujimoto (72-74-74), Sakura Yokomine (71-74-75), Kumiko Kaneda (72-72-76)
T37/+5 Hiromi Mogi (76-73-72), Junko Omote (75-72-74), Erika Kikuchi (74-73-74), Li-Ying Ye (73-74-74), Bo-Bae Song (72-75-74), Erina Hara (71-73-77),
T47/+6 Bo-Mee Lee (77-72-73), Aiko Ueno (73-75-74)

Even though Ahn's charge came too late to put her into contention, it was good enough to extend her lead on the JLPGA money list to over 40 million yen.  She also benefitted from Creamer taking about 10 million yen out of the hands of her rivals.  It's looking more and more like she won't need her 5th win of the year to secure her 2nd-straight money-list title.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥114.98M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥74.10M
3. Ji-Hee Lee ¥72.15M
4. Chie Arimura ¥69.60M
5. Miki Saiki ¥61.44M
6. Yukari Baba ¥59.64M
7. Yuri Fudoh ¥55.55M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥54.65M
9. Shiho Oyama ¥50.04M
10. Shanshan Feng ¥45.79M
11. Mayu Hattori ¥43.46M
12. Ayako Uehara ¥43.13M
13. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥40.55M
14. Saiki Fujita ¥38.24M
15. Kumiko Kaneda ¥37.84M
16. Hiromi Mogi ¥35.19M
17. Rui Kitada ¥34.50M
18. Bo-Bae Song ¥31.20M
19. Rikako Morita ¥30.81M
20. Na-Ri Kim ¥30.65M
21. Junko Omote ¥30.60M
22. Yuko Mitsuka ¥29.37M
23. Asako Fujimoto ¥29.01M
24. Ji-Woo Lee ¥27.83M
25. Li-Ying Ye ¥25.80M
26. Na-Ri Lee ¥24.42M
27. Inbee Park ¥24.33M
28. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥24.09M
29. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥24.07M
30. Akane Iijima ¥22.94M
31. Soo-Yun Kang ¥21.67M
32. Akiko Fukushima ¥21.64M
33. Eun-Bi Jang ¥20.82M
34. Young Kim ¥20.64M
35. Kaori Aoyama ¥20.49M
36. Eun-A Lim ¥20.16M
37. Esther Lee ¥19.20M
38. Teresa Lu ¥18.40M
39. Bo-Mee Lee ¥17.62M
40. Shinobu Moromizato ¥17.30M
41. Yumiko Yoshida ¥15.85M
42. Nikki Campbell ¥15.80M
43. Tamie Durdin ¥15.72M
44. Momoko Ueda ¥15.53M
45. Megumi Kido ¥14.93M
46. Nachiyo Ohtani ¥14.59M
47. Miho Koga ¥14.59M
48. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥13.86M
49. So-Hee Kim ¥13.81M
50. Mihoko Iseri ¥13.24M

With Ji-Yai Shin now #56 on the money list (right behind Onnarin Sattayabanphot!), Ai Miyazato #68, Harukyo Nomura #74, Hee Young Park #91, and Meena Lee #103, a lot is riding on their performance in the Mizuno Classic 2 weeks from now.  Next week, however, is the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Weider Ladies, which still has in its field only Shanshan Feng, Inbee Park, Shin, Nomura, and Lee among the many dual LPGA-JLPGA members (not to mention non-members Na Yeon Choi and Mika Miyazato).  As I said last week, I'm shocked Ai Miyazato isn't teeing it up there, as she's basically putting herself in a position where she has to win the Mizuno, go to JLPGA Q-School, or force a showdown with the JLPGA leadership over their new rules for membership.

[Update 1 (9:38 pm):  Here's bangkokbobby's overview, complete with photos and video!]

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