Sunday, June 29, 2014

Earth Mondamin Cup Sunday: Miki Sakai Defeats Sun-Ju Ahn in Playoff for 1st-Ever JLPGA Victory

Sun-Ju Ahn did everything she could during the final round of the Earth Mondamin Cup to become 2014's 1st 4-time winner in the world of women's golf, including a walkoff eagle on the par-5 18th to force a playoff with 23-year-old Miki Sakai, but in the end it was the unheralded youngster who got the W, thanks to a knee-knocker of about 3 feet that Sakai drained for her 1st-ever JLPGA victory.

Sakai's win isn't a total surprise, as she got a taste of contention this season with 2 silvers, a bronze, and a 4th top-5 finish earlier in the season, but when Ahn caught her at -15 on the 6th hole when she birdied the long par 4 and Sakai bogeyed it, I'm sure many were thinking that Sakai was in trouble.  But she responded with back-to-back birdies to get to -17 and kept making par after par as Ahn sprinkled a pair of birdies and a pair of bogeys over the next 7 holes.  The playing partners both parred 16 and 17 and after Ahn eagled 18 Sakai missed a birdie putt for the outright victory.  But she bounced right back with a win on the 2nd playoff hole.  After having lost a playoff to Yuki Ichinose early in the season, Sakai was overjoyed and overcome after her victory (if google translate is at all accurate).

There were a lot of big names near the top of the leaderboard, but Mi-Jeong Jeon (71, -15), Teresa Lu (71, -15), Shiho Oyama (70, -13), Ji-Yai Shin (70, -11), and Ji-Hee Lee (69, -10) couldn't really get anything going for very long today.  Those who matched Ahn's closing 67--Erina Hara (-10), Hikari Fujita (-10), and Rikako Morita (-7)--were too far back to scare the final groups.  But for those heading to Royal Birkdale for the Women's British Open it's got to be very encouraging!

Plus, it's good for their standing on the JLPGA money list:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥81.37M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥64.90M
3. Misuzu Narita ¥55.31M
4. Miki Sakai ¥55.09M
5. Erina Hara ¥38.54M
6. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥37.84M
7. Ayaka Watanabe ¥36.74M
8. Ji-Yai Shin ¥35.73M
9. Teresa Lu ¥33.74M
10. Esther Lee ¥32.35M
11. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M
12. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥30.91M
13. Rikako Morita ¥29.24M

14. Phoebe Yao ¥26.57M
15. Ji-Hee Lee ¥26.56M
16. Lala Anai ¥25.47M
17. Ritsuko Ryu ¥24.88M
18. Mayu Hattori ¥22.38M
19. Shiho Oyama ¥21.55M
20. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
21. Na-Ri Lee ¥19.56M
22. Hikari Fujita ¥18.11M
23. Mamiko Higa ¥17.80M
24. Mami Fukuda ¥17.76M
25. Saiki Fujita ¥17.20M
26. Junko Omote ¥17.09M
27. Kaori Ohe ¥17.04M
28. Momoko Ueda ¥16.97M
29. Yukari Baba ¥16.12M
30. Soo-Yun Kang ¥15.63M
31. Sakura Yokomine ¥15.30M
32. Akane Iijima ¥15.17M
33. Rumi Yoshiba ¥14.13M
34. Asako Fujimoto ¥13.83M
35. Miki Saiki ¥13.46M

Young Kim defends her Nichi-Iko Ladies title next week (check out the manga-style image on the tournament main page!), but many of the JLPGA's finest will be sitting this one out.  The biggest names in the field are probably Sakura Yokomine, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Bo-Mee Lee, Erina Hara, Teresa Lu, and Na-Ri Lee.  Plus the 4 teenage amateurs in the field should get some media attention (the youngest is 15), as well.  But most on the tour will be looking ahead to the WBO, so we may see a surprise winner next week....

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