It's easy to tell who's had a good year on the JLPGA thus far--just check out my rundown of the tour's money list from last Sunday. If you go to that post and click on the link to the actual money list, you can also check out players' scoring averages, as well. You can also use the Rolex Rankings and, even better, the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. But how do you tell who has momentum heading into this week's Mizuno Classic? All these measures take in the entire season's worth of golf--and in the case of the Rolex Rankings, 2 entire years of results. What about just the last several weeks?
Never fear, gentle reader, I've researched this for you!
Sakura Yokomine (#2 money list, #3 scoring average, #43 Rolex, #19 GSPI): Yokomine won 2 weeks ago and 7 weeks ago, has 3 top 5s and 6 top 10s in her last 10 starts, and has had 10 rounds in the 60s during that span, with a low of 63 a couple of Saturdays ago. Yes, she's had 3 finishes right around 25th (including last week), but she's had only one really bad tournament during that stretch.
Teresa Lu (#9 money, #7 scoring, #65 RR, #32 GSPI): Lu joined the JLPGA in 2010 after 4 seasons on the LPGA and amazingly has yet to win on her new tour, but she has 2 silvers and a bronze in her last 10 starts, along with 4 top 5s, 5 top 10s, and 8 top 20s. Never mind that she finished outside the top 30 last week and missed the cut in the Golf5 Ladies 7 weeks ago--she has 7 rounds in the 60s with a low of 65. If she can avoid her tendency to lose it for one round in big events (as she did in the last 2 majors), she can contend this week.
Na-Ri Lee (#11 money, #9 scoring, #69 RR, #47 GSPI): Lee is a bit of a hot and cold player. She's won twice in her last 5 starts, but she has only 4 top 10s in her last 10 and has missed 2 cuts, at the start and end of that span. Still, she has 7 top 20s and 6 rounds in the 60s during that stretch, with a low of 65 in the Munsingwear 6 weeks ago.
Shiho Oyama (#25 money, #14 scoring, #81 RR, #29 GSPI): Oyama has been battling injuries since she tried competing on the LPGA in 2009, but she's been coming back this year. In her last 10 starts, she has 4 top 5s, 5 top 10s, and 6 top 20s, with 6 rounds in the 60s and a low of 67 in the Golf5 Ladies.
Harukyo Nomura (#28 money, #15 scoring, #122 RR, #97 GSPI): Nomura got off to a very good start on the JLPGA in 2013, but hit a rough patch fairly early in the season that lasted a long time. However, she's mostly turned things around in the 2nd half of the season. She has a 5-event top 20 streak going in which she's notched a silver, a fourth, and a 7th. Over her last 10 starts, she has 7 top 20s. So despite 2 missed cuts in a row earlier in that stretch, she's mostly really coming on, with 8 rounds in the 60s and a low of 67 (including last Sunday).
I wouldn't say that anyone else in the field has a lot of momentum heading into the Mizuno. A lot of the Japanese young guns and Seoul Sisters who have been the main stories on the JLPGA this season are taking this week off. And money-list leader Rikako Morita, #3 Miki Saiki, and #5 Yumiko Yoshida, who are in the field, either have been playing just ok or very unevenly in their last 10 starts. Frankly, I'm not sure if I'll be picking any other JLPGA regular than Yokomine in my top 12 for the Seoul Sisters.com PakPicker competition this week. Good thing this thing starts Friday, as it gives me more time to mull my options!