The JLPGA's finest face off in the final event and major of their season, the Ricoh Cup, tomorrow. This limited-field event is open only to winners of 2009 JLPGA events and others in the top 25 on the money list. Just like last season, when Miho Koga passed Ji-Hee Lee (thanks to a late collapse by Mi-Jeong Jeon) to take the money title, this year's money list queen will be decided this week. Shinobu Moromizato, Sakura Yokomine, and Chie Arimura each has 5 wins already; if any of them were to notch win #6 this week, she would end up on top. [Correction (11/27/09): Moromizato has 6 wins already! Yeesh!] But they'll have to get past the LPGA's Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda to do it, not to mention Jeon, Lee, Koga, and the top 2 on the JLPGA career money list, Yuri Fudoh and Akiko Fukushima. The only eligible players who won't be standing in the Big 3's way this week are #5 on the money list Yuko Mitsuka, who's heading over to the U.S. to prepare for LPGA Q-School next week, and JLPGA #20 and LPGA Rookie of the Year and money-list queen Ji-Yai Shin, who's withdrawn from the Ricoh Cup, presumably out of fatigue and disappointment at her inability to secure the LPGA's Player of the Year award and Vare Trophy, which Lorena Ochoa won on the final 9 holes of the LPGA Tour Championship this past Monday.
Check out the final 3 pairings:
10:11 am Ji-Hee Lee and Bo-Bae Song
10:19 am Mi-Jeong Jeon and Chie Arimura
10:27 am Sakura Yokomine and Shinobu Moromizato
A victory by Yokomine or Moromizato would put her past Shiho Oyama and Momoko Ueda, who won just over 166 million yen in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and set a new record for largest winnings in a single season in JLPGA history. Yokomine hasn't finished worse than 4th on the JLPGA money list since 2005 but has never ended up on top, while Moromizato is looking to erase the bitter memory of her 2006 LPGA season, when she made only 7 cuts in 16 starts and got her only top 10 of the season at the Mizuno Classic. Oh, and Arimura will have to figure out a way to keep her fine play going from last week, when she went 67-62-67 for a -20 total, if she wants to take the money title away from them. Only a win this week will give her a chance to do it. No pressure!