Saturday, May 10, 2014

Salonpas Cup Saturday: Shanshan Feng Extends Lead to 2 Shots on Misuzu Narita

Shanshan Feng shot her 3rd-straight 70 at the JLPGA's 1st major of 2014 to take a 2-shot lead into the final round of the Salonpas Cup over 21-year-old Misuzu Narita, who fired a bogey-free 31 on the back to roar into solo 2nd.

Despite making her biggest mistake of the week, a double bogey on the 391-yard par-4 11th, Feng bounced back with birdies on the 400-yard par-4 14th and 510-yard par-5 17th.  Mika Miyazato, meanwhile, birdied 4 of her 1st 12 holes, but bogeyed the 165-yard par-3 13th and followed it up with another on the 14th to drop back into a tie for 3rd with 21-year-old Phoebe Yao (73) and 19-year-old Hikari Fujita (69).  Anna Nordqvist would have been right there with them if she could have finished each side stronger; despite making 5 birdies on the day, she had to settle for a 70 because she doubled the 380-yard par-4 9th and bogeyed the 415-yard par-4 18th.  As it is, though, she's -1 and in striking distance, along with KLPGA star Ha Na Jang and 1-time JLPGA winner Erina Hara, who both shot 69s, and Yeo-Jin Kang, who followed up yesterday's 67 with a 73 yet is still tied for low Korean in the field.

Other big names are going to need some help from those ahead of them if they're going to contend tomorrow.  Ai Miyazato remained stuck at E with Bo-Mee Lee (who fired a 3-birdie 70), Yuki Ichinose, Erika Kikuchi, and Lala Anai.  Sun-Ju Ahn stayed at +1 and was caught by Hyun-Ju Shin, who shot a 70 thanks to a 3-hole birdie train to close out the back; they both were met on the way down by Ji-Woo Lee and Yeon-Ju Jung, who each shot 75s.  In the same vein, Ayaka Watanabe stayed at +2, Mamiko Higa at +3, Momoko Ueda at +4, and Yuri Fudoh at +5.

Others moved in the wrong direction on moving day.  Rui Kitada's 76 dropped her from T6 to T26.  15-year-old Minami Katsu almost fought her way all the way back to E after opening with an 82, but then suffered a birdieless 41 on the back to drop back to +6 with Ji-Hee Lee, who also shot a 75 today.  1 worse were Sakura Yokomine (74) and Natsuka Hori (75).  And Miki Saiki's struggles continued this season, as her 75 dropped her to +8.

Narita's 66, 69s by Jang, Hara, and Fujita, 70s by Feng, Miyazato, Nordqvist, Lee, Shin, and Mayu Hattori, and 71s by Yukari Nishiyama and Kaori Nakamura were really the only impressive moving day scores.  Feng has been able to lead all 3 rounds at Ibaraki just by playing steady golf.  If she can continue the rate she's set of less than 1 bogey per round tomorrow, she's going to put a lot of pressure on those chasing her, who have all had a more volatile tournament this week.  That said, you never can tell when lightning will strike.  The only eagle of the day on the back 9 today came on the tough 18th hole from 22-year-old Riho Fujisaki, who's +10 for the week (Esther Lee and Nobuko Kizawa got them on par 5s on the front).  Probably an eagle is too much to expect, but I'm really rooting for something good to happen for Ai-sama or Mikan tomorrow!  Even the experience of being in contention on a Sunday will be good for them....

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