Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fujisankei Ladies Classic Saturday: Miki Saiki Overtakes Teresa Lu, But Ahn, Yokomine, and Oyama Are Lurking

Teresa Lu, the LPGA Class of 2006er who's still looking for her 1st win in what is now her 4th season on the JLPGA, opened the Fujisankei Ladies Classic with a pair of 68s, but she was overtaken by last week's winner Miki Saiki, who made an eagle and 5 birdies in her last 14 holes of bogey-free golf today to get to -9. 

Meanwhile, some of the JLPGA's biggest names are lurking within easy striking distance: 
  • Sun-Ju Ahn, who seemingly could do no wrong in her 1st 2 seasons on tour and stayed in the top 5 on the money list last year but is now stuck at #42 on this year's money list, fired a 6-birdie 67 to pull within 2 of the lead.
  • Sakura Yokomine, who had been a fixture in the top 5 of the JLPGA money list for 7 straight seasons but ran into the Ahn buzzsaw the year after she finally reached #1 and fell to 11th last year, is only 3 back after a 5-birdie 68.
  • Shiho Oyama, who ended Yuri Fudoh's reign atop the JLPGA money list back in 2006 and got injured when she tried to make the transition to the LPGA a couple of years ago, continued her comeback with a bogey-free 67 to join Yokomine in a tie for 6th.
Plus we've got youngster Miki Sakai carrying the banner for the JLPGA's young guns only 1 shot off the lead, veteran Junko Omote 2 back, Soo-Yun Kang and Na-Ri Lee 4 behind, and 16-year-old Mayu Hosaka--who lost in the semi-finals of last year's Japan Women's Amateur Golf Championship to eventual winner Mamiko Higa (who missed the cut today), finished T9 in the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships last summer, played on the Japanese national team in this year's Queen Sirikit Cup (which came within 2 strokes of beating the always-powerful South Korea team), and is Japan's 7th-ranked amateur in the World Amateur Golf Ranking--still within shouting distance at -4.

At the other end of the spectrum, Mi-Jeong Jeon barely made the cut, while money-list leader Rikako Morita missed it by a single shot.  Also taking Sunday off are Shinobu Moromizato, Yuko Mitsuka, and Ayako Uehara (another top JLPGAer struggling to make the transition to the LPGA and not gaining much confidence back home).

I'd love to see Lu break through tomorrow, but it's hard to root against anyone near the top of the leaderboard.  Should be quite the finish!

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