Sunday, October 25, 2009

Masters GC Ladies Sunday: Down to the Wire!

I noticed in the 1st round of the Masters GC Ladies that the 1st and last 3 holes of the Masters Golf Club had been giving most of the JLPGA's finest fits. Well, even though scoring was better on those holes yesterday, they're going to play a key role in deciding the winner today. 2nd-round leader Akiko Fukushima will need to play them very well in order to recover from bogeys on her last 2 par 5s that have dropped her out of the lead. 1st-round leader Shinobu Moromizato will need to get back to recovering from a +2 start over her 1st 3 holes today, but she compunded her difficulties by doubling the par-3 14th to fall out of a tie with Fukushima. Perhaps they can take heart from Miki Saiki, who tripled the 2nd hole, bounced back with a birdie on the next, and added 5 others over her next 10 holes--but they'll have to avoid imitating her bogey on the treacherous par-3 17th (which dropped her back to a 70 on the day and a -3 overall finish) if they want to walk away the winner. That's because they've been chased down and even passed by some people playing very good golf today.

LPGA Q-School-bound Yuko Mitsuka is one of them. Even though she followed up an opening-hole birdie with a double bogey, she bounced right back with 4 birdies in her next 8 holes to get to -8 overall. Recently, she followed up a bogey on the par-4 11th with a birdie on the par-3 14th that opened up a 3-shot lead on Moromizato. Mitsuka's dropped to #8 in my JLPGA ranking after playing from badly to inconsistently over her last 10 starts, but if she could get her 2nd win of the season this week, following up on her win in the 1st event of 2009, she'd build some great momentum for the tour's end run.

But she has her work cut out for her. Thanks to 4 birdies over her last 9 holes, world #2 Ji-Yai Shin is living up to her "Final Round Queen" nickname once again and trailing Mitsuka by only 1 shot. If Shin can play the last 3 holes better than anyone, she'll notch her 3rd career JLPGA victory and assure herself of dual LPGA-JLPGA membership for the 2nd-straight season (more on that tomorrow). Another Korean star of the JLPGA, Ji-Hee Lee, is also poised to jump-start her season. The most consistent performer on tour in 2008 has struggled a bit in 2009 but like Mitsuka is looking to follow up on an early-season win today. She's playing bogey-free golf and at -3 on the day and -7 overall with 3 holes to play has a great chance to secure her 13th career JLPGA victory. Like Lee, 4-time 2009 winner Chie Arimura is playing bogey-free golf today, but after having opened her round with a birdie, she's followed up with 13-straight pars. At -6, she'll need to make some birdies to put some pressure on those ahead of her. And let's not count out Fukushima. She's been stuck at 25 career JLPGA victories since winning the Stanley Ladies in the middle of last season, but she's only 1 behind Mitsuka with 4 holes left to play.

Can Mitsuka achieve her 1st career 2-win season over her last 4 holes today? Stay tuned!

[Update 1 (4:12 am): Playoff time! Mitsuka birdied the par-5 15th to get to -9, but couldn't par the tough 17th, so ended up at -8, tied with Ji-Yai Shin, who had birdied the 18th to get there. Fukushima gave herself a great chance to win with birdies on 15 and 16, but bogeyed 18 to keep Mitsuka and Shin alive.]

[Update 2 (4:32 am): And Ji-Yai Shin is your winner! Wow!! More on how she won soon. Here are the final results:

1st/-8 Ji-Yai Shin (70-70-68) [won in playoff]
T2/-8 Yuko Mitsuka (71-68-69), Akiko Fukushima (70-65-73)
T4/-6 Ji-Hee Lee (71-69-70), Chie Arimura (72-67-71), Shinobu Moromizato (67-69-74)
T7/-3 Miki Saiki (70-73-70), Hiromi Mogi (70-72-71), Kuniko Maeda (72-70-71), Sakura Yokomine (68-73-72), Stacy Lewis (70-70-73), Ayako Uehara (69-71-73), Yukari Baba (70-68-75), Eun-A Lim (69-69-75)

T13/-2 Akane Iijima (75-70-69), Miho Koga (72-72-70), Mayu Hattori (73-71-70), Mi-Jeong Jeon (73-70-71)
T19/-1 Bo-Bae Song (73-73-69)
T22/+1 Ah-Reum Hwang (72-70-75)
T25/+2 Yun-Jye Wei (73-74-71), Rikako Morita (72-73-73)
T28/+3 Paula Creamer (72-76-71), Momoko Ueda (75-73-71), Kumiko Kaneda (76-69-74)
T34/+4 Hyun-Ju Shin (74-72-74)
T40/+6 Saiki Fujita (72-76-74), Yumiko Yoshida (75-71-76)
T45/+7 Rui Kitada (78-70-75), Yuko Saitoh (73-75-75), Mai Arai (73-75-75), Midori Yoneyama (75-72-76), Yuki Ichinose (74-72-77)
T51/+8 Tamie Durdin (74-74-76), Esther Lee (74-74-76)
T54/+9 Woo-Soon Ko (73-75-77)

Nice job by Mizuno girl Stacy Lewis in her 1st JLPGA appearance. Even with all the trouble she had on the par 3s--no pars on the 17th all week and a double on one on the front today--she still made it into the top 10. Let's see how she does in Korea next week!]

[Update 3 (4:50 am): With her win, Shin jumps into the top 20 on the JLPGA money list!

1. Shinobu Moromizato ¥151.18M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥130.66M
3. Chie Arimura ¥112.51M
4. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥106.68M
5. Yuko Mitsuka ¥79.11M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥66.49M
7. Miho Koga ¥61.88M
8. Yukari Baba ¥53.99M
9. Bo-Bae Song ¥48.20M
10. Yuko Saitoh ¥44.39M
11. Nikki Campbell ¥44.24M
12. Eun-A Lim ¥43.63M
13. Akiko Fukushima ¥42.54M
14. Yuri Fudoh ¥40.42M
15. Ai Miyazato ¥39.53M
16. Miki Saiki ¥38.91M
17. Ayako Uehara ¥37.84M
18. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥34.64M
19. Ji-Yai Shin ¥33.42M
20. Erina Hara ¥33.07M
21. Tamie Durdin ¥31.72M
22. Rui Kitada ¥30.85M
23. Momoko Ueda ¥30.30M
24. Rikako Morita ¥29.76M
25. Hiromi Mogi ¥28.68M
26. Midori Yoneyama ¥26.54M
27. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥26.32M
28. Mayu Hattori ¥25.79M
29. Akane Iijima ¥25.79M
30. Ji-Woo Lee ¥25.53M
31. Na-Ri Lee ¥25.37M
32. Saiki Fujita ¥25.14M
33. Li-Ying Ye ¥24.13M
34. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥21.98M
35. Kaori Aoyama ¥21.31M

Also, Shin qualified for the final JLPGA major of the season, which takes place the week after the LPGA Tour Championship. She's the 3rd LPGAer to qualify for this event by winning on the JLPGA this season, after Momoko Ueda and Ai Miyazato.]

[Update 4 (4:55 am): Can't wait to hear from Happy Fan whether So Yeon Ryu (-9) or Hee Kyung Seo (-13) was able to chase down teenage amateur Hana Jang (-14) in the final round of the KLPGA's final major!]

[Update 5 (5:20 am): Waggle Roomed on the significance of Shin's win and what to look forward to in the next month-plus in the world of women's golf. Shin is--or will be, depending on exchange rates--the 1st $2M winner in the world of women's golf this season. And she ain't done yet!]

[Update 6 (5:55 am): Check out the Kyodo news game story! Here are the key quotes:

Shin birdied the final hole of regulation for a 68 that left her at 8- under 208.

Fukushima, playing in the final threesome, had a one-shot lead over Shin and Mitsuka when she stepped up to the 18th tee.

The tour veteran then appeared to drop out of contention when she went out of bounds off the tee, but she scraped into the playoff after making a 45-foot bogey putt from the fringe of the green....

The 21-year-old South Korean picked up her third career Japan LPGA title with a two-putt par on the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, at Masters Golf Club in Hyogo Prefecture.

Wow! Did I tell you Fukushima was a roller coaster golfer or what?!]

[Update 7 (10/26/09, 2:46 am): Wow, just as Shin was winning for the 3rd time on the JLPGA. Hee Kyung Seo was matching her record of 3 major victories in a calendar year on the KLPGA! I've heard rumors she's JLPGA-bound in 2010. Let's see.... The 2008 KLPGA top 10 get exemptions into the next round of JLPGA Q-School, in early November.]

[Update 8 (3:54 am): Nice job by bangkokbobby passing along the most recent JLPGA stats. Worth comparing to his translation of the most recent ones for the KLPGA, especially the conversions to US dollars. Any wonder why there are so many Koreans on the LPGA and JLPGA?]

1 comment:

IceCat said...

The Mizuno Classic field has been released: