Onnarin Sattayabanphot has made 9 of her 11 birdies during the 1st 2 rounds of the Studio Alice Ladies on the back 9 of the Hanayashiki Golf Course, but she wasn't the only one to dismantle that side today. Esther Lee, who matched her 33 on the back, trails her by only 2 shots, while 19-year-old Hikari Fujita, who like Lee fired a bogey-free 33 on the back, is 4 back.
In fact, a bunch of golfers turned it on on the back--including Maiko Wakabayashi (34 to get to -3), Eriko Tanikawa (32 for a 68 that brought her all the way to -2 after a bad start), Nozomi Inoue (who birdied 4 holes in a row late on that side to fire a 32 of her own that more than offset a triple bogey on the front), and 20-year-old Misaki Hama (whose 33 enabled her to join the big group at -2 that also includes Mi-Jeong Jeon and Ritsuko Ryu)--to keep Sattayabanphot in their sights today. But it may be too little, too late for them to make a real run tomorrow at the 4th member of Team Thailand in the LPGA's International Crown. Just like for Hiroko Fukushima, who dropped from 2nd to T10 with her 75 today and is now 8 shots back, tied with Momoko Ueda, who went +3 over her final 8 holes of birdieless golf today. And for Ayaka Watanabe, the 20-year-old champion of the AXA Ladies, who fell 9 off the pace after shooting a 75 of her own--and added insult to injury by going +5 over her final 12 holes.
Still, these players were among the luckier of those who blew up today (or yesterday, for that matter). At least they still have a ghost of a chance to contend on Sunday. Ji-Yai Shin (72-76) and Sun-Ju Ahn (70-76) were fortunate to make the cut, while Rikako Morita (78-71), Yumiko Yoshida (73-77), and Kumiko Kaneda (79-72), among others, won't even be playing in the final round. With Bo-Mee Lee and Ji-Hee Lee stuck at +1 after matching 72-73 starts, the stage is set for Sattayabanphot to attempt her 2nd victory of 2014 and 3rd of her JLPGA career. Let's see if she can do it!