Saiki Fujita pulled ahead of So Yeon Ryu in the 2nd round of the Salonpas Cup with her 2nd straight round in the 60s in the JLPGA's 1st major of the year, but the bottom of the leaderboard will get almost as much attention as the top due to world #1 Inbee Park's withdrawal after 14 holes today.
Park was on track to miss the cut when she WDed, a far cry from last year here when she and Morgan Pressel got beat in a playoff by Sun-Ju Ahn. Other big names missed the cut--KLPGA superstar Ha-Neul Kim, top amateur Minjee Lee, JLPGA star Ji-Hee Lee, and former LPGAers Young Kim and Jin Joo Hong--but Park's decision not to finish her round raises serious questions, among them whether she is ill or injured.
But enough about those who won't be playing on the weekend. Yesterday's co-leader So Yeon Ryu started the day with 4 birdies in her 1st 5 holes but gave all but one of them back over the rest of the morning. Going out in the afternoon wave, the other co-leader Fujita recovered from a couple of late bogeys on the back (her front) with a bogey-free 34 on the front that brought her to -7 for the week and gave her a 2-shot lead on Ryu and money-list leader Miki Saiki. An eagle on the par-5 12th helped propel Onnarin Sattayabanphot to -3 and into a tie for 4th with Shanshan Feng, Rikako Morita, and Hiromi Mogi. Among the big names at -2 are defending champion Ahn, JLPGA legend Yuri Fudoh, amateur sensation Lydia Ko, and JLPGA star Mi-Jeong Jeon, while last week's winner Sakura Yokomine is joined at -1 by Mika Miyazato, Morgan Pressel, and Erina Hara, among others. Still in the tournament but not yet in contention are Bo-Mee Lee (E), Ayako Uehara (+1), Shiho Oyama (+2), Teresa Lu (+2), and Shinobu Moromizato (+3).
All in all, 65 players survived the cut line at +3, so conceivably everyone has a chance to catch Fujita, a 5-time winner on the JLPGA who already has a major (the 2010 Konica Minolta Cup) to her name. Should be an interesting weekend!