Saturday, September 13, 2014

Konica Minolta Cup Saturday: Ai Suzuki Moves Backwards But Holds onto Solo Lead; Bo-Mee Lee Withdraws

20-year-old Ai Suzuki double bogeyed back-to-back long par 4s at the start of the 3rd round of the Konica Minolta Cup, but battled back to hang onto a 1-shot lead on Momoko Ueda (69) and Kaori Ohe (69), a 2-shot margin on Ji-Yai Shin (72), Misuzu Narita (72), and Ah-Reum Hwang (71), a 3-shot lead on Lala Anai (74), and a 4-shot lead on Shiho Oyama (70), Ji-Hee Lee (71), Na-Ri Lee (74), and Eun-Bi Jang (68).  With money-list leader Bo-Mee Lee withdrawing on the 10th hole "for personal reasons" (according to google translate), Suzuki's odds of making her 1st JLPGA top 10 a major victory increased slightly, but bogeys on 9 and 17 mean that there are now 26 players within 7 shots of the lead, which is exactly how many shots Jang, who shot the low round of the day, made up on Suzuki on moving day.

Here's some background on the lesser-known players in Suzuki's lead chase pack (I'm assuming Ji-Yai Shin, Ji-Hee Lee, Shiho Oyama, Momoko Ueda, and Misuzu Narita need no introduction for readers of this blog!):

  • Kaori Ohe (24):  won the Fujisankei Classic in 2012, got a couple of silvers last season, but hasn't cracked the top 10 in her last 4 starts and has only 2 top 5s in 2014;
  • Ah-Reum Hwang (26):  won the Yamaha Ladies in 2009, but hasn't cracked the top 10 in 13 JLPGA starts this season, although she did come close the last 2 weeks;
  • Lala Anai (26):  her best JLPGA finish is a silver at the Fujitsu Ladies in 2012, but she's been having a solid 2014, with 9 top 10s that include 2 top 5 (one of them a bronze at the Meiji Cup);
  • Eun-Bi Jang (25):  her best JLPGA finish is also a silver from 2012 (this one at the NEC Karuizawa 72), and she's coming off her 1st top 10 of the season last week;
  • Na-Ri Lee (26):  snagged her 1st and only 2 JLPGA victories in a 4-week stretch last seaosn (including dealing Ai Miyazato a heart-breaking defeat), and has righted the ship after a slow start to this season, with 7 top 10s in her last 13 starts, including 3 bronzes, the most recent coming last week.
So while the stage is set for one of the JLPGA's biggest names to win this thing, Suzuki isn't the only possible Cinderella who could emerge with the crown tomorrow!

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