Saturday, April 5, 2014

Yamaha Ladies Saturday: Yumiko Yoshida Takes Lead on Moving Backwards Day

Katsuragi Golf Club showed its teeth today in the 3rd round of the Yamaha Ladies, as only 13 golfers were able to shoot par or better and Yukari Baba's 3-birdie 70 was the low round of the day.  Yumiko Yoshida was 1 of only 3 other players to shoot a 71 on moving day and it was good enough to get her into the lead.  Her walkoff birdie lifted her to -6 for the week, putting her 1 shot ahead of Sun-Ju Ahn (72 with a birdie-birdie finish), 2 shots ahead of 2nd-round leader Ritsuko Ryu (who needed a birdie-birdie finish of her own to salvage a 74), 3 shots ahead of KLPGA stars Hyo-Joo Kim (who birdied 2 of her last 4 holes to save a 72) and Bo-Mee Lee (73 with a walkoff birdie), and 4 shots ahead of 1st-round leader Rikako Morita (73 with a walkoff birdie) and 19-year-old Hikari Fujita (71 with bogey-free 33 on back).

Yoshida, who turns 27 at the end of the month, is looking to build on her 3-win 2013 campaign by earning her 5th career JLPGA victory tomorrow.  Ahn, meanwhile, is looking for her 14th JLPGA victory since joining the tour in 2010.  What they've managed to accomplish over 54 holes may not sound like much, but when you consider how many other golfers who were in contention plunged down the leaderboard, their steadiness is quite impressive.  Na-Ri Kim and Jessica Speechley shot 80s, Young Kim and Mihoko Iseri 78s, Mi-Jeong Jeon and 2014 winner Yuki Ichinose 77s, Soo-Yun Kang, Rui Kitada, Hyun-Ju Shin, and Misuzu Narita 76s, and Erina Hara, Megumi Kido, and Ji-Hee Lee 75s on a day they started with chances to move to the top of the leaderboard.

Still, there are 9 players within 5 shots of the lead and another 10 within 8 shots of it.  So if the leaders falter on Sunday, plenty of golfers are in a position to leapfrog them.  Should be a wide-open final round!

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