Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nichirei Ladies Sunday: Ji-Yai Shin Birdies 3 of Her Last 4 Holes to Secure Her 6th JLPGA Victory

Ji-Yai Shin kept the door open for most of the final round of the Nichirei Ladies today, allowing 21-year-old Rumi Yoshiba and 19-year-old Hikari Fujita to pull within a shot or 2 of her, but the former world #1 showed how she earned the nickname Final Round Queen down the home stretch, birdieing 3 of her last 4 holes to secure her 6th JLPGA title.  Shin ended up beating the kids by 4 shots, Esther Lee by 5, Yuri Fudoh, Momoko Ueda, and Na-Ri Lee by 6, and Shiho Oyama by 7 in what turned out to be a convincing victory, her 1st on the JLPGA since 2010.

It's an impressive comeback for a player who hasn't exactly set the JLPGA on fire in 2014.  This was only Shin's 4th top 10 and 6th top 20 in 12 starts this season; it breaks a streak of 5 finishes outside the top 10 that was kicked off by 2 missed cuts in a row.  Not exactly the quality of play anyone envisioned when she decided to renounce her LPGA membership.  Still, it's the 1st time since the 1st event of the season that she put together 3 under-par rounds in a row and Saturday's 65 was the lowest round of the year for her.  So maybe it's a sign of bigger and better things to come.

What it has done is brought her into the top 10 on the JLPGA money list:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥69.05M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥63.89M
3. Misuzu Narita ¥53.76M
4. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥37.84M
5. Ayaka Watanabe ¥36.74M
6. Erina Hara ¥36.28M
7. Esther Lee ¥32.35M
8. Ji-Yai Shin ¥32.23M
9. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M
10. Miki Sakai ¥29.89M
11. Rikako Morita ¥28.06M

12. Phoebe Yao ¥26.57M
13. Teresa Lu ¥25.34M
14. Ji-Hee Lee ¥24.31M
15. Ritsuko Ryu ¥23.70M
16. Mayu Hattori ¥21.20M
17. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥21.11M
18. Lala Anai ¥20.22M
19. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
20. Mamiko Higa ¥17.80M
21. Na-Ri Lee ¥17.31M
22. Momoko Ueda ¥16.97M
23. Mami Fukuda ¥16.92M
24. Saiki Fujita ¥16.36M
25. Kaori Ohe ¥16.20M
26. Yukari Baba ¥16.12M
27. Hikari Fujita ¥15.86M
28. Junko Omote ¥15.54M
29. Soo-Yun Kang ¥14.98M
30. Shiho Oyama ¥14.55M
31. Akane Iijima ¥14.46M
32. Sakura Yokomine ¥14.46M
33. Asako Fujimoto ¥13.83M
34. Rumi Yoshiba ¥13.42M
35. Yumiko Yoshida ¥13.38M

Next up on the JLPGA is the Earth Mondamin Cup, which Natsuka Hori ran away with last season for her 2nd win on tour.  The top 4 Koreans on tour will all be in the field, along with most of the rest of the JLPGA's finest, including many coming right from the U.S. Women's Open.  Let's see if Shin can keep it going and make the tour's Big 3 into a Big 4!

[Update 1 (9:03 am):  Big shout-out to Hyo Joo Kim, who won the Korean Women's Open to end a victory drought of her own and take home her 1st major title!]

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