Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ricoh Cup Overview: Mi-Jeong Jeon Goes Wire-to-Wire for 17th JLPGA Win of Her Career

It took all season, but Mi-Jeong Jeon secured her 1st win of 2011 in the last event on the JLPGA schedule, the Ricoh Cup, going wire-to-wire for her 17th career victory on tour. 

Jeon opened with a 68 on Thursday; despite closing with 3 bogeys in her last 5 holes, she was the only player in the elite field to break 70 and found herself with a 2-shot lead on Inbee Park and a 3-shot lead on Ji-Yai Shin.  She finished weakly again on Friday, with another 3 bogeys in her last 5 holes that forced her to settle for a 72, but Shin fell back with a 74 and Park ballooned to a 77, leaving fellow Koreans Bo-Bae Song and Sun-Ju Ahn, who both fired 69s, to take their places 2 and 3 shots behind Jeon, respectively.  On moving day, a bogey-free 33 on the back allowed Jeon to extend her lead on Song to 3 shots, while a sizzling 66 by Chie Arimura brought her within 5 and Rui Kitada and Yuri Fudoh moved within 4 thanks to a 68 and a 69, respectively.  And today Jeon held steady despite a bogey-free 69 from Ahn and a bogey-free 70 from Song; 2 birdies in her last 6 holes were all she needed to hold onto a 2-stroke victory over Song and a 4-shot margin on Ahn, Ji-Hee Lee, and Junko Omote.

It was a great week for the "Korean Power Wave" on the JLPGA; all 8 Koreans in the field finished in the top 15, ahead of the likes of Miki Saiki, Ayako Uehara, Saiki Fujita, and Yukari Baba, not to mention perennial heavy hitters like Shiho Oyama (+10), Sakura Yokomine and Momoko Ueda (+12)--and even the promising youngster Harukyo Nomura (+14).  With Shanshan Feng making the top 10, international players outnumbered Omote, Arimura, Fudoh, and Kitada.

Ahn's clinching the money-list title last week took some of the drama out of the final event of the year, but even so the 25-million yen purse allowed Jeon to extend her top-6 streak to 6-straight seasons, Lee to break the 100-million yen barrier for the 2nd time in her career, and, even with Arimira passing her for 3rd, Yokomine to extend her top-4 streak to 7-straight seasons.  Here's how the 2011 JLPGA money list ended up:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥127.93M
2. Ji-Hee Lee ¥102.32M
3. Chie Arimura ¥88.69M
4. Sakura Yokomine ¥87.30M
5. Yukari Baba ¥76.29M
6. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥67.78M
7. Shanshan Feng ¥67.14M
8. Miki Saiki ¥62.73M
9. Yuri Fudoh ¥60.52M
10. Ritsuko Ryu ¥57.56M
11. Bo-Bae Song ¥55.22M
12. Shiho Oyama ¥52.17M
13. Mayu Hattori ¥50.79M
14. Asako Fujimoto ¥50.03M
15. Saiki Fujita ¥48.16M
16. Ayako Uehara ¥45.85M
17. Rui Kitada ¥45.70M
18. Junko Omote ¥40.14M
19. Kumiko Kaneda ¥38.495M
20. Hiromi Mogi ¥37.88M
21. Rikako Morita ¥36.33M
22. Momoko Ueda ¥35.71M
23. Na-Ri Kim ¥35.68M
24. Ji-Woo Lee ¥29.97M
25. Yuko Mitsuka ¥29.37M
26. Li-Ying Ye ¥28.38M
27. Akane Iijima ¥28.14M
28. Na-Ri Lee ¥27.10M
29. Inbee Park ¥26.86M
30. Kaori Aoyama ¥26.66M
31. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥26.62M
32. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥24.40M
33. Teresa Lu ¥24.39M
34. Young Kim ¥23.67M
35. Esther Lee ¥23.59M
36. Akiko Fukushima ¥23.25M
37. Eun-A Lim ¥22.59M
38. Soo-Yun Kang ¥21.90M
39. Eun-Bi Jang ¥21.05M
40. Bo-Mee Lee ¥19.15M
41. Shinobu Moromizato ¥18.64M
42. Yumiko Yoshida ¥18.17M
43. Kaori Ohe ¥17.38M
44. Nikki Campbell ¥17.07M
45. Nachiyo Ohtani ¥16.86M
46. Tamie Durdin ¥16.85M
47. Miho Koga ¥16.64M
48. Ji-Yai Shin ¥16.61M
49. Megumi Kido ¥16.07M
50. So-Hee Kim ¥15.78M

All these players automatically keep their cards for 2012, including Ji-Yai Shin, who moved into the top 50 (barely) in her 7th start on tour.  With Harukyo Nomura at #64, Ai Miyazato at #71, Hee Young Park at  #88, and Meena Lee at #96, I'm very curious to see who will be playing in the final stage of Q-School next week.

For more on Jeon's win, head on over to Fairways and Forehands--bangkokbobby has plenty of photos and the final leaderboard in its entirety!

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