Sunday, September 30, 2012

Japan Women's Open Sunday: Shanshan Feng Goes Wire-to-Wire for 2nd Major of 2012

With a once-Super Typhoon bearing down on Yokohama, the final round of the Japan Women's Open kicked off at 7 am today.  By the time the leaders made the turn about 6 hours later, only 4 golfers had a real chance to win. 

Shanshan Feng, who held the lead or a share of the lead after each of the 1st 3 rounds, bounced back from an opening bogey with 3 birdies over her last 6 holes on the front to get back to -1 for the week.  Although she had gone 24 holes without making a birdie, she never panicked and kept her damage to a minimum during her rough patch, then exploded out to a big lead on her playing partner and co-leader at the start of the day.  Megumi Kido suffered a triple bogey on the very same hole Feng broke out of her birdie-less run, and she never recovered.

Playing 1 pairing ahead of Feng and Kido, Inbee Park opened with a 34 that extended her bogey-free run to 14 holes in which she made 3 birdies.  But she could only make up 1 shot on Feng during that stretch and ended the front 9 where she started--2 shots back.  Still, she hadn't shot herself out of contention, as her playing partner Ayako Uehara did with a birdie-less 39 on the front.

Playing another pairing ahead of the final group, Rui Kitada was making the biggest move of the week, firing a bogey-free 32 to move from +4 to E.  That was part of a 21-hole bogey-free run in which she had made 6 birdies in all!  Unfortunately for her playing partner Ai Miyazato, Kitada was the only one making birdies in that pairing on Sunday, as Ai-sama dropped out of contention with a birdie-less 38.

Finally, playing yet another pairing ahead of the leaders, 2010 champion Mika Miyazato was making a run of her own, with a 3-birdie 33 that made up for her disappointing 3-bogey 39 the afternoon before and pulled her within 2 of the lead.  Things went from bad to worse for her playing partner, living legend Yuri Fudoh, who had doubled the long par-4 17th on Saturday and followed up an early birdie with back-to-back bogeys on the front on Sunday.

But almost as soon as the field narrowed down to 4 players with a real chance to win, 2 of them ran into trouble on the back.  First Mikan bogeyed the 295-yard par-4 12th to fall to +3.  Then Kitada bogeyed both the 160-yard par-3 11th and the 12th to drop back to +2.  When they bogeyed the 200-yard par-3 14th in turn, their chances were pretty much down to zero.

That's because Feng kept making par after par to stay under par for the week and Park kept her hot play going with birdies on the 375-yard 10th and 365-yard 13th to make it 5 birdies in her last 18 holes of bogey-free golf and catch Feng at -1.  So it was down to 2 of the hottest golfers in the world of women's golf over the last 5 holes.  Yes, Ji-Hee Lee had made 4 birdies in a 9-hole stretch midway through her round Sunday and hung tough at the end to finish the week at +2 on the strength of a fine 69, but even a Park bogey on the 515-yard par-5 15th left Lee 2 shots out of 2nd place.  And even though Feng joined Park at E with a bogey of her own on the 430-yard 17th, the 18th was a 575-yard par 5, so it was highly unlikely that 1st Park and then Feng would double it.

But Park bogeyed it, taking the pressure off Feng, who made the par for her 3rd win in her last 4 starts on the JLPGA and 5th of her career.

E Shanshan Feng (68-75-74-71)
+1 Inbee Park (73-76-70-70)
+2 Ji-Hee Lee (73-77-71-69)
+3 Mika Miyazato (72-75-73-71)
+4 Ah-Reum Hwang (76-77-68-71), Rui Kitada (77-73-70-72)
+5 Ayako Uehara (72-74-72-75)
+6 Akane Iijima (75-77-71-71), Hiromi Takesue (78-74-71-72), Jeong Jang (74-73-74-73)
+7 Chie Arimura (76-75-71-73), Hiromi Mogi (75-75-71-74), Teresa Lu (72-74-75-74), Ai Miyazato (72-77-70-76)
+8 Maiko Wakabayashi (75-72-78-71), Na Yeon Choi (77-76-70-73), Na-Ri Lee (74-75-74-73), Mi-Jeong Jeon (74-77-71-74), Soo-Yun Kang (71-80-71-74), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (74-76-72-74), Miki Sakai (73-77-72-74), Megumi Kido (70-74-73-80)
+9 Sakura Yokomine (79-75-71-72), In-Kyung Kim (74-74-75-74), Yuri Fudoh (71-79-70-77), Megumi Kido (70-74-73-80)
+10 Miki Saiki (74-78-71-75), Na-Ri Kim (70-75-76-77)
+11 Ji-Yai Shin (81-74-72-72)
+12 Momoko Ueda (72-81-73-74) 
+14 Hyun-Ju Shin (77-77-73-75), Mayu Hattori (76-77-74-75)
+15 Kumiko Kaneda (74-79-74-76), Young Kim (75-76-73-79)
+16 Shinobu Moromizato (78-76-76-74)
+17 Erina Hara (73-79-77-76), Bo-Bae Song (75-77-76-77)
+18 Rikako Morita (72-75-82-77), Ya Ni Tseng (73-75-77-81) 
+20 Maria Iida (78-73-77-80)
With Rolex Rankings #1 Ya Ni Tseng closing out her week with a back-9 44 (consisting of a birdie, 3 pars, 2 bogeys, 2 doubles, and a triple) and Women's British Open champion Ji-Yai Shin unable to go low after opening with an 81, it's looking like Shanshan Feng, Inbee Park, and last week's LPGA winner Stacy Lewis have the most serious mo' heading into the LPGA's fall Asian Swing.  If Feng and Park weren't in the thick of things on the LPGA, they'd certainly be tempted to try to take the JLPGA money-list lead away from Mi-Jeong Jeon!

1. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥108.69M
2. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥93.22M
3. Chie Arimura ¥91.38M
4. Shanshan Feng ¥71.28M
5. Ji-Hee Lee ¥64.72M
6. Rikako Morita ¥64.03M
7. Mayu Hattori ¥63.28M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥61.86M
9. Miki Saiki ¥59.47M
10. Inbee Park ¥57.34M
11. Bo-Mee Lee ¥56.15M
12. Sakura Yokomine ¥46.03M
13. Yumiko Yoshida ¥43.64M
14. Hiromi Mogi ¥40.22M
15. Soo-Yun Kang ¥37.93M
16. Esther Lee ¥36.40M
17. Mihoko Iseri ¥33.65M
18. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥31.50M
19. Yuri Fudoh ¥30.12M
20. Kaori Ohe ¥28.90M
21. Natsu Nagai ¥27.41M
22. Megumi Kido ¥27.16M
23. Rui Kitada ¥26.10M
24. Ayako Uehara ¥24.81M
25. Kumiko Kaneda ¥24.10M
26. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥23.52M
27. Akane Iijima ¥23.48M
28. Na-Ri Lee¥22.83M
29. Yuki Ichinose ¥22.79M
30. Miki Sakai ¥22.57M
31. Na-Ri Kim ¥22.22M
32. Junko Omote ¥21.92M
33. Yukari Baba ¥21.78M
34. So-Hee Kim ¥21.75M
35. Shinobu Moromizato ¥21.02M
36. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥20.83M
37. Erina Hara ¥19.86M
38. Young Kim¥19.20M
39. Airi Saitoh ¥19.12M
40. Teresa Lu ¥18.95M
41. Ji-Yai Shin ¥18.68M
42. Erika Kikuchi ¥18.53M
43. Eun-Bi Jang ¥17.31M
44. Bo-Bae Song ¥16.26M
45. Saiki Fujita¥15.78M
46. Yuko Fukuda ¥15.60M
47. Harukyo Nomura ¥14.48M
48. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥13.85M
49. Da-Ye Na ¥13.66M
50. Asako Fujimoto ¥12.23M

So, to recap, Shanshan Feng now has 5 worldwide wins in 2012.  Everyone who joined her on the JLPGA from the LPGA will be returning to the top tour in women's golf on the planet in 2 weeks in Malaysia.  The JLPGA returns to action in a couple of weeks, as well, at the Fujitsu Ladies.  Take a deep breath, folks!  The home stretch on both tours is shaping up to be fantastic.

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