22-year-old Mami Fukuda took a ride on the birdie train for 6 holes and capped it off with another on the 18th hole to post a 29 on the back 9 and a 64 for the day. That run was just enough to move her into 1st place at the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic at -10 through 36 holes. Fukuda charged past Ji-Yai Shin, whose 7-birdie 67 seemed merely mortal, and Na-Ri Kim, whose bogey-free 68 was, you know, just fine by comparison. And she held off Onnarin Sattayabanphot, whose bogey-free 63 was sparked by an eagle on the 493-yard par-5 5th and also included a 31 on the back.
Fukuda leads Shin, Kim, and Sattayabanphot by 1, Misuzu Narita and 1st-round leader Rui Kitada by 2, and Na-Ri Lee by 3 heading into tomorrow's final round. Also in this are Momoko Ueda (4 back after going 69-69), Ai Suzuki (5 back after a 71-68 start), and perhaps even Mi-Jeong Jeon (70-70), Sakura Yokomine (70-71), Mamiko Higa (71-71), and Miki Saiki (70-73). Missing the cut, however, was last year's money-list leader Rikako Morita, so not all the big names in the field will be in the mix.
We're not quite getting the free-for-all we anticipated between the top 4 players on the JLPGA, but #4 Shin leads #3 Narita by a shot with 18 holes left to play, so there's plenty of time for a showdown to emerge. Fukuda, meanwhile, has a great chance for her 1st win on tour and 1st top 10 since the KKT Cup Vantelin Ladies back in April (which 15-year-old Minami Katsu won). She had 4 top 10s in her 1st 7 starts this season, including a career-best finish of T3 at the T-Point Ladies, but has had only 1 top 20 and 3 top 25s in her last 18 starts, with 5 missed cuts in that run. Maybe we'll see David take on a pair of JLPGA goliaths tomorrow!