Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mizuno Classic Saturday: Now That's a Moving Day!

The #1 and #2 players on the LPGA money list matched cards for the 2nd-straight round at the Mizuno Classic, but 67s by Ji-Yai Shin and Ai Miyazato were only good enough to move them into a tie for 5th at -8 with Inbee Park (bogey-free 66), Song-Hee Kim (6-birdie 67), Momoko Ueda (bogey-free 68), Mi-Jeong Jeon (ditto), Hee Young Park (4-birdie 69), and Brittany Lang (3-birdie 70). They all sit 3 shots behind Japan Women's Open champion Bo-Bae Song, who opened with a 30 and birdied 2 of her final 4 holes to post a 65. Yet Song's walkoff birdie is the only thing keeping her ahead of Akane Iijima, who opened with a 31 of her own and kept the pedal to the metal on the back, firing a 33 that lifted her to -10 overall and into a tie with In-Kyung Kim, who birdied 7 of her last 12 holes and has gone -10 in her last 29 holes of bogey-free golf. Rui Kitada's 7-birdie 66 that pulled her within 2 shots of the lead was almost lost amid all these fireworks!

Consider this: Anna Nordqvist birdied 7 of her 1st 11 holes and parred out from there for a bogey-free 65 that brought her even with Ya Ni Tseng (69), Eunjung Yi (69), Eun-A Lim (68), and Ah-Reum Hwang (68) at -6 (T17). Shi Hyun Ahn matched Nordqvist's feat, but a bogey on the par-5 13th dropped her back into a tied at -5 (T22) with Kyeong Bae (68), Li Ying Ye (68), Yukari Baba (69), Miho Koga (70), Miki Saiki (70), and Nobuko Kizawa (72). Jimin Kang birdied 3 of her 1st 4 holes on the back, then made the turn with an eagle and birdie to start the front, but her 66 was only enough to move her into a tie for 44th at -2. Let's put it this way: with 16 68s and 16 69s going up on the scoreboard today, players like Na Yeon Choi, Jee Young Lee, Hee-Won Han, Amy Yang, Hyun-Ju Shin, and Rikako Morita (who shot the former number) and Lorena Ochoa, Sakura Yokomine, Candie Kung, Vicky Hurst, Lindsey Wright, Yuko Mitsuka, Yuri Fudoh, Ayako Uehara, and Maiko Wakabayashi (who shot the latter) were basically treading water on moving day.

At -4 through 36 holes, Ochoa and Choi will have to make much bigger moves tomorrow if they want to catch Tseng, much less the Kims, Shin, and Miyazato. For Shinobu Moromizato and Chie Arimura, both stuck at +2 overall, they'll be looking to make up ground on Yokomine at -4, but Jeon at -8 is most likely well out of their reach. The implications of tomorrow's round for the top of the LPGA and JLPGA money lists and head of their Player of the Year races are huge. Shin is coming off 4 birdies in her last 6 holes today, while Miyazato has to shake off a walkoff bogey. Let's see who handles the pressure and turns the momentum her way early!

Once the LPGA posts today's post-round interviews, you can compare the way the leaders were talking after the 1st and 2nd rounds. For now, just feast your eyes on the final-round pairings:

Start Time: 8:40 AM
Vicky Hurst
Anna Nordqvist
Ah-Reum Hwang

Start Time: 8:50 AM
Hyun-Ju Shin
Jee Young Lee
Hee-Won Han

Start Time: 9:00 AM
Momoko Ueda
Hee Young Park
Brittany Lang

Start Time: 9:10 AM
Ji-Yai Shin
Song-Hee Kim
Mi-Jeong Jeon

Start Time: 9:20 AM
Rui Kitada
Inbee Park
Ai Miyazato

Start Time: 9:30 AM
Bo-Bae Song
Akane Iijima
In-Kyung Kim

When you consider that Stacy Lewis gets to play with Karrie Webb, Teresa Lu (who's playing in the 3rd stage of JLPGA Q-School the last week of November) gets to watch Lorena Ochoa and Sakura Yokomine face off (and try to outdo them), Aussies Tamie Durdin of the JLPGA and Lindsey Wright of the LPGA are paired together (the former is headed to LPGA Q-School in less than a month), Seon Hwa Lee and Chie Arimura are in the same group, and Christina Kim is playing with Yuri Fudoh and Yuko Mitsuka (who's also entered LPGA Q-School), you begin to understand just how special these jointly-sponsored events are. Here's hoping Michael Whan tries to negotiate more of them with the JLPGA and KLPGA at the start of the 2010 season.

[Update 1 (5:24 pm): Happy Fan has the details on Hee Kyung Seo's title defense attempt in the 2nd round of the joint LET-KLPGA event this week.]

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