At -8, Kumiko Kaneda leads the Suntory Ladies after 54 holes on the strength of a bogey-free 69 today that leapfrogged her 1 shot ahead of Esther Lee (72) and 2 shots ahead of 19-year-old Mamiko Higa (73) and kept her 2 shots ahead of living legend Yuri Fudoh (68) and Yumiko Yoshida (whose 66 matched Sun-Ju Ahn's from the 1st round and Rikako Morita's from the 2nd round as 2nd-best scores of the week thus far after Misuzu Narita's opening 64). Former and current money list leaders are only 3 shots off the pace, as Ahn (71) and Morita (72) played solidly, while Sakura Yokomine made a bid to get into contention with a bogey-free 67 that left her 5 shots behind Kaneda.
Other notables lost ground on the leader, including Ji-Hee Lee (72, -3), Ritsuko Ryu (74, -2), Narita (who shot her 2nd-straight 75 to fall back to -2 for the week), 2nd-round co-leader Akane Iijima (78, -1), Shinobu Moromizato (71, -1), Miki Saiki (69, E), Shiho Oyama (73, E), Soo-Yun Kang (71, +1), Yuko Mitsuka (72, +1), Mi-Jeong Jeon (75, +2), last week's winner Junko Omote (75, +2), Tamie Durdin (75, +3), Young Kim (73, +4), and Simin Feng (73, +4). But at least they're playing on the weekend, unlike Harukyo Nomura, Na-Ri Kim, Erina Hara, Li-Ying Ye, and Onnarin Sattayabanphot, who all missed the cut, or Teresa Lu, who WDed during the 2nd round with abdominal pain.
Still, the winner will most likely come from the group of 8 golfers within 3 shots of the lead who are playing together tomorrow in the final 3 threesomes. It'll be interesting to see if Fudoh can continue the JLPGA veterans' winning streak, Kaneda or Higa can strike a blow for the youngsters, Ahn or Lee can put Korea back on the map, Yoshida or Kaori Nakamura can pull off a surprise win, Morita can extend her money-list lead, or Yokomine can go super-low and steal the title from everyone else!