Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 JLPGA Money List: Lots of Competition, No Clear Front-Runner

With her shocking defeat of Ji-Yai Shin at the Studio Alice Ladies Open, making up 5 shots over the final 3 holes on the Final Round Queen, Miki Saiki jumps from #30 into the top 10 of the 2012 JLPGA money list.  Shin debuts at #19, while Chie Arimura, who started her season solidly last week, just barely squeaks into the top 35.

1. Ritsuko Ryu ¥21.88M
2. Ji-Hee Lee ¥19.26M
3. Bo-Mee Lee ¥17.33M
4. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥15.83M
5. Airi Saitoh ¥14.40M
6. Miki Saiki ¥13.39M
7. Soo-Yun Kang ¥12.00M
8. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥11.93M
9. Mayu Hattori ¥10.62M
10. Hiromi Mogi ¥10.09M
11. Akane Iijima ¥8.99M
12. Ayako Uehara ¥8.52M
13. Sakura Yokomine ¥8.33M
14. Yuki Ichinose ¥7.06M
15. Erika Kikuchi ¥6.38M
16. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.32M
17. Li-Ying Ye ¥6.32M
18. Eun-Bi Jang¥5.42M
19. Ji-Yai Shin ¥5.28M
20. Shinobu Moromizato ¥5.21M
21. Na-Ri Lee¥5.07M
22. Young Kim¥4.60M
23. Teresa Lu ¥4.58M
24. Rui Kitada ¥4.08M
25. So-Hee Kim ¥4.06M
26. Harukyo Nomura ¥3.92M
27. Rikako Morita ¥3.83M
28. Yuri Fudoh ¥3.58M
29. Na-Ri Kim ¥3.58M
30. Mina Nakayama ¥3.34M
31. Erina Hara ¥3.31M
32. Kaori Ohe ¥3.09M
33. Yumiko Yoshida ¥3.06M
34. Chie Arimura ¥3.00M
35. Kumiko Kaneda ¥2.88M

The JLPGA isn't such easy pickings for dual members anymore.  You have to look pretty far down the money list to find some prominent LPGAers:

49. Inbee Park ¥1.90M
66. Shanshan Feng ¥1.04M
72. Momoko Ueda ¥.82M

But it's not just the jetsetters who are having problems breaking into the top 50 on the money list this early in the season.  Regulars like Maiko Wakabayashi, Hyun-Ju Shin, Bo-Bae Song, Ji-Woo Lee, Eun-A Lim, and Ah-Reum Hwang are in the 2nd 50.  It's far too early to push the panic button when all that's needed is a win, top 5, or a couple of top 10s to vault dozens of players, but their absence is one index of how tough the competition on the JLPGA is getting.  Even more telling?  The 1-2 players over the past 2 seasons, Sun-Ju Ahn and Sakura Yokomine, were both passed by Saiki despite their relatively strong finishes last week. 

Let's not exaggerate:  only 8 of the top 50 on the list have sub-72 scoring averages, after all.  But the days of waltzing over to Japan to pick up some easy cash despite being jet-lagged are probably over.  Coming without your B-game most likely means a missed cut (just ask Mika Miyazato) and you'll need your A-game to contend, much less win (just ask Shin).

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