Friday, April 18, 2014

KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies Friday: Onnarin Sattayabanphot and 15-Year-Old Minami Katsu Go Low

JLPGA money-list leader Onnarin Sattayabanphot bounced back from last Sunday's disappointment by shooting her low round of the year thus far, a bogey-free 66 at the KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies, but she may not have been the biggest story of the day.  Sharing the lead with her is 15-year-old amateur and history-making winner of this March's NZ Women's Stroke Play Championship Minami Katsu, who birdied 5 holes in a row as she closed out the back (her front) and followed it up with a birdie on the par-5 4th.

Katsu, who's playing on the Japanese National Team with 2013 Japan Women's Amateur champion Haruka Morita and 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur medalist Yumi Matsubara, made a bounceback of her own from a disappointing performance at the Queen Sirikit Cup of Golf last week.  She's already a seasoned international competitor, with experience in the Japan Women's Open and a T12 last year at the Studio Alice Ladies, but it's going to be a tall order for her to keep hanging with Sattayabanphot, who's grabbed a gold, silver, and bronze in her 1st 6 starts of 2014.  And when you consider that the likes of Bo-Mee Lee (bogey-free 67), Teresa Lu (5-birdie 68), Ji-Hee Lee (ditto), Sakura Yokomine (6-birdie 69), and Mayu Hattori (bogey-free 69) are hot on the co-leaders' trail, well, the teenage amateur has a lot on her plate this weekend.

I'll be curious to see if Chie Arimura, Momoko Ueda, and Shiho Oyama can build on their -1 opening rounds and gain some confidence and momentum for the 1st time in 2014, if Mamiko Higa (E), Rikako Morita (+1), and Ayaka Watanabe (+1) can bounce back from blah starts, and if Na Ri Kim (+5), Bo-Bae Song (+5), Yuri Fudoh (+4), Shinobu Moromizato (+3), and Miki Saiki (+2) can fight back to make the cut tomorrow.

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