Sunday, August 9, 2009

AXA Ladies Sunday: Down to the Wire

The 2nd half of the JLPGA season has kicked off with a bang at the AXA Ladies this week. An early 67 by Bo-Bae Song and 68s by Shinobu Moromizato, Erina Hara, and Nikki Campbell today showed the leaders the way, and many of them have responded. But not #1-ranked Sakura Yokomine. A pair of bogeys on the 11th and 12th dropped her to -6 for the tournament and +2 on her day. With 5 holes left in her final round, she's 4 behind 4 golfers. Rookie Rikako Morita birdied 5 of her 1st 10 holes to take the lead at -11, but a bogey on the par-4 14th, coupled with a pair of birdies by Momoko Ueda on the 14th and 15th and birdies on the 13th by Ji-Hee Lee and So-Hee Kim knotted them all at -10. Chie Arimura has birdied 3 of her last 5 holes and sits 1 behind the co-leaders with 3 holes left in her round. Meanwhile, Hiromi Takesue is playing bogey-free golf through her 1st 16 holes and is only 2 off the pace, Eun-A Lim is -2 through 15 and only 3 back, Ji-Yai Shin has bounced back from an uncharacteristic 38 on the front with a pair of birdies on the 10th and 11th to pull back within 3 of the lead, and Hyun-Ju Shin, playing in the final pairing with Kim and Yokomine, is also 3 back after a 37 on the front. Even Miho Koga, who bogeyed 3 of 5 holes as she made the turn to drop 4 off the pace, is not completely out of it, as she still has 4 holes left to play. But it's definitely too late for Akiko Fukushima (+3 through 15 today), Ji-Woo Lee (+3 through 16), and Shiho Oyama (who either WDed or got DQed, I'll try to find out what happened).

With Ueda and Lee playing together in the 3rd-to-last group, the winner may come from their pairing, as it's hard to believe in the rookie in the group ahead of them or the 3rd-year JLPGA member from Korea in the final group (although she did win once as a rookie, her scoring average has never dipped below 73).

More after the JLPGA has lifted its internet blackout!

[Update 1 (8:48 am): Turns out Morita's lone bogey on the back was even more costly than I had thought it would be and a bogey on the par-3 16th dropped So-Hee Kim back to a tie for 5th at -9. Morita's mishap kept her out of a playoff at -11 between Ji-Hee Lee (who shot a 34 on the back), Momoko Ueda (33) and Chie Arimura (32). Here's the Kyodo story on the playoff; Arimura was eliminated with a bogey on the 1st playoff hole, then "Ueda tapped in for a birdie to beat South Korea's Lee Ji Hee on the second playoff hole--the par-4 18th--after hitting the pin with her second shot from about 130 yards in the right rough." It turns out Oyama's WD was because of a sore neck that prevented her from playing, despite being only 1 shot off the lead at the start of the day.]

[Update 2 (9:06 am): Here's how the top 10 and notables ended up.

1st/-11 Momoko Ueda (68-69-68) [won in playoff]
T2/-11 Chie Arimura (68-70-67), Ji-Hee Lee (66-71-68)
4th/-10 Rikako Morita (69-69-68)
T5/-9 Hiromi Takesue (68-71-68), So-Hee Kim (69-67-71)
7th/-8 Ji-Yai Shin (69-68-71)
T8/-7 Shinobu Moromizato (75-66-68), Yui Kawahara (70-70-69), Eun-A Lim (72-67-70), Miho Koga (69-68-72)

T12/-6 Nikki Campbell (71-71-68), Yuko Mitsuka (66-74-70), Sakura Yokomine (70-66-74), Hyun-Ju Shin (66-70-74)
T18/-5 Bo-Bae Song (73-71-67), Hiromi Mogi (71-68-72)
T21/-4 Erina Hara (71-73-68)
T24/-3 Akane Iijima (69-73-71), Rui Kitada (70-71-72), Akiko Fukushima (71-67-75)
T30/-2 Yukari Baba (71-73-70), Ji-Woo Lee (68-71-75)
T36/E Kumiko Kaneda (69-75-72)
T40/+1 Mie Nakata (73-72-72), Saiki Fujita (72-72-73), Riko Higashio (70-72-75), Esther Lee (71-70-76)
T50/+2 Ah-Reum Hwang (72-73-73), Miki Saiki (72-72-74)
T54/+3 Yun-Jye Wei (73-70-76)
T56/+4 Woo-Soon Ko (76-68-76)
WD Shiho Oyama (68-69-WD)

Big disappointments today for Oyama, Yokomine, Fukushima, and Hyun-Ju Shin, while Ji-Yai Shin and Koga must be frustrated that they couldn't rise to the occasion. But what a huge win for Momo-chan!!]

[Update 3 (9:18 am): Here's how the money list now looks:

1. Sakura Yokomine ¥78.92M
2. Shinobu Moromizato ¥76.95M
3. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥63.98M
4. Chie Arimura ¥62.63M
5. Yuko Mitsuka ¥60.09M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥43.50M
7. Yuko Saitoh ¥38.40M
8. Miho Koga ¥32.40M
9. Eun-A Lim ¥29.70M
10. Erina Hara ¥28.86M
11. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥28.29M
12. Ayako Uehara ¥27.69M
13. Tamie Durdin ¥25.28M
14. Akiko Fukushima ¥23.83M
15. Rui Kitada ¥23.15M
16. Yuri Fudoh ¥21.38M
17. Midori Yoneyama ¥20.64M
18. Rikako Morita ¥20.17M
19. Li-Ying Ye ¥20.06M
20. Yukari Baba ¥19.98M
21. Ji-Woo Lee ¥19.97M
22. Nikki Campbell ¥18.79M
23. Na-Ri Lee ¥17.94M
24. Saiki Fujita ¥17.21M
25. Momoko Ueda ¥16.69M
26. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥16.63M
27. Hiromi Mogi ¥16.22M
28. Bo-Bae Song ¥15.04M
29. Miki Saiki ¥14.83M
30. So-Hee Kim ¥14.77M

Ueda won't appear in my ranking of the JLPGA's finest tomorrow, as she's only played in 3 JLPGA events this season, nor will Ji-Yai Shin, who sits in 36th place on the money list with ¥11.28M, but I expect both of them, along with Ai Miyazato and Shiho Oyama, to show up in my September ranking.]

[Update 4 (3:46 pm): Here are some back-9 and playoff highlights from Ueda's round:

That shot almost went in!]

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