Friday, April 4, 2014

Yamaha Ladies Friday: Ritsuko Ryu Eagles 10th, Takes Lead

Ritsuko Ryu is only 26 years old, has already won twice on the JLPGA, and has finished in the top 15 on the tour's season-ending money list for each of the last 3 years, but she's been overshadowed a bit by players like Rikako Morita, Mamiko Higa, and others who've been in the vanguard of a Japanese youth movement on tour.  Well, when Morita, yesterday's leader at the Yamaha Ladies, made 5 bogeys and a triple bogey today and needed 3 birdies in her last 4 holes to salvage a 75, when visiting KLPGA young gun Hyo Joo Kim made 2 double bogeys in a row on the back to ruin an otherwise perfect day, and when nobody else close to the lead could match Ryu's birdie-eagle burst as she made the turn, the spotlight shifted Ryu's way, as she ended up with a 69 that brought her to -6 and the sole possession of the lead.

Hot on Ryu's tail are a trio of golfers who are pretty used to the spotlight themselves, Sun-Ju Ahn, Yumiko Yoshida, and Young Kim.  Yoshida got to -5 via a solid 71, but Ahn and Kim tied Ryu and Hyun-Ju Shin for the low rounds of the day (and the only under 70) to join her 1 shot off the lead.  If Bo-Mee Lee hadn't made a double early in her round, she may have outshone everyone today, but as it is she had to settle for a 70 that left her at -4, 1 shot ahead of Morita, the KLPGA's Kim, Erina Hara, and Mihoko Iseri.  With 24 players at E or better--including Shiho Oyama (70, -2) and Mi-Jeong Jeon (72, E)--the winner of the JLPGA's 1st 72-hole event of 2014 could still be almost anyone who made the cut (although Teresa Lu at +5 and Yuki Ichinose at +4 will have to play flawlessly over the next 36 holes to have a chance of getting into the Sunday mix).

Defending champion Mamiko Higa will not be one of them, however.  Her 78 today included only 1 birdie and left her barely on the wrong side of the cut line.  Other notables in her boat include Momoko Ueda, Na Zhang, Na-Ri Lee, Kumiko Kaneda, Mami Fukuda, and Nontaya Srisawang.  So with Ji-Yai Shin, Sakura Yokomine, and Bo-Bae Song playing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the stage is cleared for Ryu to make her mark over the weekend.  Let's see if she can do it--or whether the young guns will strike back on moving day!

No comments: