Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mizuno Classic Sunday: Teresa Lu Breaks Through

Teresa Lu fired a bogey-free 30 on the final 9 of the Mizuno Classic today to roar past Chella Choi and take her 1st victory on a major professional tour.  

Choi, who had gone out with a bogey-free 31 to get to -11, had a lead of 1 shot over 2nd-round co-leaders Shiho Oyama and Yuki Ichinose, 2 shots over Yumiko Yoshida (who followed up yesterday's 65 with 4 birdies in her 1st 7 holes today) and Asako Fujimoto, and 3 shots over fellow co-leader Mamiko Higa and Lu (who had bogeyed the 9th after birdieing 1, 3, and 7).  But Choi would make only 1 birdie the rest of the day on her way to a 66, her 3rd-straight round in the 60s.  It was a big one, to be sure.  Lu had birdied 4 holes in a row early on the back to get to -12, and Choi's birdie on the par-5 16th tied her for the lead.  But Lu birdied her final 2 holes in a row to post a 64 and win by 2 over Choi.

Lu's 30 was light-years ahead of the competition down the stretch.  She beat Choi by 5 shots over the last 9 holes.  Among the leaders, only Higa and Shanshan Feng came closer to her--and only by 1 shot!  Their 34s were good enough to lift Higa into a tie for 3rd with Ichinose at -10 and Feng into a tie for 8th with defending champion Stacy Lewis and Eun-Bi Jang.  Everybody else in the top 12 shot 36s or 37s.  Oyama (37) ended up in a tie for 5th with Yoshida (36) at -9; Fujimoto (37) was solo 7th at -8.  Kaori Nakamura (36) and Ji-Yai Shin (37) ended up T11 at -6.

And even so this JLPGA-dominated top 12 (even more so if you recall that Feng and Shin are dual LPGA-JLPGA members) finished way better than the LPGA's rookies.  Yes, Moriya Jutanugarn fired a 69 to finish T30 at -3 and gain 20 points in the ROY race, cutting Caroline Masson's lead to 11 points.  Masson shot 72-72 on the weekend, but she finished T60 at +4, gaining only 5 points.  Everyone else is out of the race, as Lisa McCloskey shot a 76 (E, T41), Austin Ernst a 79 (+3, T58), Ayako Uehara a 76 (+4, T60), and Chie Arimura a 73 (+5, T68).  But they shouldn't feel too bad:  JLPGA money-list leader Rikako Morita shot a 77, Natsuka Hori shot a 76, Erika Kikuchi a 75, Na-Ri Lee a 74, and Kumiko Kaneda a 73.

Back to the JLPGA, winnings this week are being counted on the money list, after all:

1. Rikako Morita ¥105.58M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥102.83M
3. Miki Saiki ¥81.94M

4. Teresa Lu ¥78.89M
5. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥78.13M
6. Yumiko Yoshida ¥77.58M

7. Mamiko Higa ¥71.56M
8. Bo-Mee Lee ¥70.34M

9. Natsuka Hori ¥64.75M
10. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥60.78M
11. Na-Ri Lee ¥57.84M
12. Yuki Ichinose ¥53.13M
13. Ritsuko Ryu ¥52.20M
14. Misuzu Narita ¥44.73M
15. Erika Kikuchi ¥44.70M
16. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥44.23M
17. Asako Fujimoto ¥42.49M
18. Yukari Baba ¥42.46M
19. Da-Ye Na ¥42.29M
20. Soo-Yun Kang ¥42.14M
21. Junko Omote ¥41.80M
22. Esther Lee ¥40.25M
23. Shiho Oyama ¥40.21M
24. Kumiko Kaneda ¥38.80M
25. Hiromi Mogi ¥36.88M
26. Mayu Hattori ¥36.87M
27. Harukyo Nomura ¥35.20M
28. Miki Sakai ¥33.82M
29. Na-Ri Kim ¥32.99M
30. Ji-Hee Lee ¥32.80M
31. Yuri Fudoh ¥32.48M
32. Erina Hara ¥31.32M
33. Rui Kitada ¥31.12M
34. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥30.47M
35. Kaori Ohe ¥27.45M
36. Lala Anai ¥26.81M
37. Megumi Kido ¥25.16M
38. Kaori Nakamura ¥25.04M
39. Eun-Bi Jang ¥23.70M
40. Yuko Fukuda ¥23.51M
41. Young Kim ¥23.50M
42. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥23.27M
43. Shanshan Feng ¥23.06M
44. Akane Iijima ¥21.98M
45. Phoebe Yao ¥19.53M
46. Yuki Sakurai ¥18.26M
47. Kaori Aoyama ¥18.01M
48. Yun-Jye Wei ¥17.80M
49. Ayaka Watanabe ¥17.55M
50. Saiki Fujita ¥16.97M

So it was only dual LPGA-JLPGA members who didn't have their winnings counted this week!  That means that Ayako Uehara stayed at #51 on the money list, Ji-Yai Shin at #54, Momoko Ueda at #55, Ai Miyazato at #79 (in only 2 starts), and Chie Arimura at #122 (in only 3 starts).  As expected, then, Uehara has joined the field at the Ito-En Ladies next week, as has Feng, who lost ground this week despite her T8 finish.  But it appears that Shin and Ueda have made the same decision as the Miyazatos and Arimura:  it's better to focus on the LPGA.

I wonder whether this win will lead Lu to make the same decision next year?  And whether the number of JLPGAers in the top 30 this week will embolden more of them to try for the LPGA in 2015....


Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

Bruce, I'm confused, if Jiyai anf Shanahan are members of both tours, why wouldn't the money count on the JLPGA money list?

If duel members of the LPGA - LET, have earnings in the British open or Evian, I though both tours count the winnings.

sag said...

Tony, for winnings to count as official money, you have to make a cut, or in a no-cut tournament like the Mizuno you need to qualify for entry under the criteria of the respective tour. I'm assuming that Shin and Feng qualified for the Mizuno under LPGA criteria, but not JLPGA criteria.

Mike said...

GC said that Lu does intend to play the LPGA next year.

The Constructivist said...

I think sag is right--Feng, Shin, and Uehara were too low down the JLPGA money list to get into the field based on their JLPGA memberships, which is most likely why the money they earned was counted only in dollars and not in yen.

I believe this is different from the LET, which regularly has non-regulars win their Order of Merit, sometimes based on play in only 1-3 big-money events. I believe a non-member can win an LET event, become a member that year, and even have that win count toward their winnings for that year. The JLPGA does offer immediate membership for non-member wins, but they are not listed in people's bios and are not counting toward season winnings.

The Constructivist said...

Glad to hear that GC confirmed Lu will be playing on the LPGA next year--she only said "probably" in her last interview.... I'm assuming she'll try to keep dual membership--did GC confirm that, too?