Friday, December 3, 2010

JLPGA Final Qualifying Tournament Friday: Hee Young Park Takes Medalist Honors from Shanshan Feng in Last 5 Holes

Shanshan Feng was -12 with 5 holes left to play in the final round of the final stage of JLPGA Q-School, holding a comfortable 3-shot lead over fellow LPGAer Hee Young Park, who had been unable to take advantage of Feng's 2 bogeys late on the front side. But after Feng bogeyed the long par-4 14th hole and Park ended her run of 14 straight pars with a birdie on the short par-3 15th, only 1 shot separated the 2 golfers. And when Feng bogeyed the medium-length par-4 16th, the entire tournament came down to the final 2 holes. Make that the final hole, as they each parred the medium-length par-5 17th. A Feng bogey and a Park birdie on the medium-to-long par 4 later and Park had made up 5 shots on Feng over the last 5 holes to steal medalist honors from her.

Who finishes 1st in Q-School is a somewhat academic question, however. I can't even find the 2009 medalist anywhere on the 2010 money list; the 2008 medalist Kumiko Kaneda was a young hot shot who nevertheless found herself right back in Q-School again this year (and would have been in contention but for a 2nd-round 79); the 2007 medalist Eun-A Lim has been a fixture in the JLPGA's top 25 ever since; and I can't find the 2006 medalist anywhere on the 2007 money list. No, what matters is how often you'll get to play in 2011 based on how well you played this week. And going by last year's results, even those at the bottom quarter of the leaderboard in 2010 Q-School will have a chance to work their way out of the JLPGA's Step-Up Tour and into 5-10 JLPGA events in 2011. Onnarin Sattayabanphot is a great example of a player who turned a terrible Q-School experience last year (85th at +18) into a Step-Up Tour win and 7 appearances on the JLPGA this year and now after a 29th-place finish will get into every event she wants to next year. (Ritsuko Ryu, who finished 39th in last year's Q-School, got into 32 JLPGA events this year.) My guess is the top 50 automatically get full JLPGA membership, the next 25 get some kind of partial status, while the rest are Step-Up Tour-bound. (I'll try to verify this soon.)

All of which means that LPGAer Lindsey Wright, who couldn't handle the jet lag, playing conditions, or pressure this week and ended up in 55th place, is likely to get into 10-20 events JLPGA events next season, depending on how often she wants to come over and how well she plays when she does. She definitely has the talent to contend for Rookie of the Year and be a force in the Player of the Year race next season, even on a partial schedule. The only difficulty she'll face is making travel plans, as she can't count on getting into any field she wants, even though she is likely to get into quite a few, as the odds are in favor of more than 5 players with higher priority status than she has deciding not to play just about every given week. Given that she's probably wanting to play only about 10 events in Japan next season anyway, it's not too big a blow to anything but her pride to finish as badly as she did this week.

As for those in the magic top 50, this week was sweet vindication for Shiho Oyama (coming off elbow surgery), Erina Hara (who endured the worst season of her short career after being a top 25er for the previous 3 seasons), Tao-Li Yang (who finally made it onto the JLPGA from China), and Sattayabanphot (who must have been wondering all year if she would have been better off toiling away on the Futures Tour), in particular. I mean, it's great for young guns like Kaneda, Kaori Ohe, Mika Takushima, and Yumiko Yoshida to be able to play a full schedule next season, and it's awesome for KLPGAers Bo-Mee Lee and He Yong Choi to have dual membership in the 2 top Asian women's tours, and it's neat that Meena Lee and Soo-Yun Kang (as well as Park and Feng) will be joining Teresa Lu in seeing if they can turn dual LPGA-JLPGA membership to the advantage of their games as well as their pocketbooks next season, but Oyama, Hara, Yang, and Sattayabanphot are getting an entirely new lease on life and a chance to enter a new stage of their careers.

Of course, the same can be said of many players in the top 50, whether veterans extending their long careers by another year (like Chie Sakai, Ya-Huei Lu, Toshimi Kimura, and Kaori Harada), 20-somethings trying to get their careers on solid footing (like Nachiyo Ohtani, Natsu Nagai, Aiko Ueno, and Mihoko Iseri), or youngsters trying to get their careers off the ground (like Satsuki Oshiro, Yui Mukaiyama, and Miki Uehara). Click on the links in this list of the top 25 and notables to see what I mean:

1st/-11 Hee Young Park (69-69-69-70)
2nd/-9 Shanshan Feng (70-66-67-76)
3rd/-5 Satsuki Oshiro (71-70-68-74)
4th/-4 Kaori Ohe (68-74-72-70)
5th/-3 Shiho Oyama (71-70-74-70)
6th/-1 Nachiyo Ohtani (73-72-71-71)
7th/-1 Chie Sakai (72-71-71-73)
8th/-1 Meena Lee (72-71-71-73)
9th/-1 Natsu Nagai (69-73-72-73)
10th/-1 Bo-Mee Lee (69-74-70-74)

11th/-1 Cai Ying [Pei-Wing Tsai?] (71-70-71-75)
12th/-1 Ji-Na Lim (70-70-71-76)
13th/+1 He Yong Choi (73-69-72-75)
14th/+1 Tomomi Hirose (69-71-74-75)
15th/+1 Jae-Hee Bae (67-70-77-75)
16th/+1 Aiko Ueno (71-68-74-76)
17th/+2 Ya-Huei Lu (69-75-76-70)
18th/+2 Erina Hara (73-74-72-71)
19th/+2 Soo-Yun Kang (73-75-69-73)
20th/+2 Mika Takushima (76-70-69-75)
21st/+2 Yui Mukaiyama (70-70-74-76)
22nd/+3 Yeo-Jin Kang (73-74-75-69)
23rd/+3 Toshimi Kimura (72-74-75-70)
24th/+3 Kumiko Kaneda (69-79-72-71)
25th/+3 Kaori Harada (72-72-74-73)

26th/+3 Mayumi Shimomura (70-74-72-75)
27th/+3 Miki Uehara (71-70-74-76)
28th/+4 Julie Lu (75-74-72-71)
29th/+4 Onnarin Sattayabanphot (72-74-75-71)
31st/+4 Mihoko Iseri (71-76-72-73)
33rd/+4 Teresa Lu (70-74-75-73)
36th/+5 So-Hee Kim (74-72-75-72)
40th/+6 Megumi Kido (72-73-74-75)
41st/+6 Yumiko Yoshida (73-73-72-76)
44th/+7 Miki Sakai (74-72-76-73)
48th/+7 Orie Fujino (72-71-75-77)
50th/+8 Tao-Li Yang (77-73-71-75)

55th/+8 Lindsey Wright (74-71-75-76)
56th/+8 Erika Kikuchi (71-73-73-79)
59th/+9 Maiko Suzuki (70-77-76-74)
60th/+9 Saori Ikushima (73-78-71-75)
61st/+9 Kuniko Maeda (70-73-79-75)
65th/+11 Erina Hayashi (70-77-79-73)
66th/+11 Ae-Na Jeon (76-75-73-75)
71st/+12 Yuki Sakurai (77-76-77-70)

80th/+14 Kaori Higo (76-79-70-77)
87th/+17 Sakurako Mori (75-77-77-76)
95th/+20 Maria Iida (74-73-80-81)


Unknown said...

Hey mate

The top 30 have full playing status - the next 60 have full access to step up tour and roughly 10 events on the Regular tour.

The 2011 Schedule is out on the 15th December with minimum 34 official events.

The Constructivist said...

Thanks, John. I don't get why a tour with fields regularly over 100 (if only just barely sometimes) would give full playing status to only about 80 players. Do you know why they do it this way?

Unknown said...

Generally about 90 Players having full exempt status for the year...

Each tournament usually has a playing field of 108, i.e 90 exempt players plus, 12 sponsor invites and remainder from tour school from 31 - 90 ranking.

They also have a mini qualifying tournament around July which gives a further 8 -10 players status for the second half of the year. Sakura Yokomine and Shinobu Moromnizato went through that school in 2005

The JLPGA is run by a bunch of woman who have not really progressed in regards to tour rules, etc..

You just have to see how many stages there are in getting your card to see that!

There really should be two stages plus a final qualifying tournament but not four as they have.