Sunday, March 31, 2013

AXA Ladies Sunday: Natsuka Hori Holds Off Harukyo Nomura for First Career JLPGA Victory

Some of the JLPGA's hottest young players took runs at Natsuka Hori today at the AXA Ladies, but the 20-year-old followed up yesterday's sizzling 64 with a bogey-free 69 that proved too much for Harukyo Nomura and Rikako Morita.  Nomura was hot early, making 3 birdies in her 1st 4 holes and following them up with back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11 to tie Hori for the lead at the time at -12.  Morita got hot late, birdieing 4 of her 1st 5 holes on the back to pull within sight of the leaders.  But neither player could keep up with Hori as she birdied the 178-yard par-3 13th and 388-yard par-4 15th to get to -14.  Morita blinked first with a bogey on the 15th, while Nomura's Waterloo was the 162-yard par-3 16th, which she bogeyed to fall 3 off the pace.  Meanwhile, JLPGA veteran and former LPGAer Shiho Oyama got stuck in neutral for 11 holes--going +1 over her final 8 holes yesterday and +1 over her 1st 3 today--and had to rally with 4 birdies over her remaining holes, including a walkoff birdie that matched Morita's, to tie the 23-year-old money-list leader for 3rd, 1 shot behind Nomura and 4 behind Hori.  This was Hori's 1st career JLPGA victory, and she did it in style, denying Nomura her 2nd JLPGA win (and 1st as a member) and forcing Morita to wait for her 4th JLPGA win.

Low round of the day went to Na-Ri Lee, who leaped into the top 10 with a 6-birdie 67, tying the likes of Erina Hara, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, and Yumiko Yoshida at -5.  Matching Nomura's and Morita's 68s was 25-year-old Ritsuko Ryu, who tied Miki Saiki and 23-year-old Megumi Kido for 7th, 1 shot behind 24-year-old Erika Kikuchi and 22-year-old Mikiko Nishi.  The JLPGA's biggest names could be found a little further down the leaderboard, with Sakura Yokomine, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Bo-Mee Lee, and Teresa Lu tied with 17-year-old amateur Asuka Kashiwabara in T16 at -4, Sun-Ju Ahn and Ji-Hee Lee stuck in T24 at -2, and Shinobu Moromizato and Young Kim back in T44 at +1.

Here's how the JLPGA money list now looks:

1. Rikako Morita ¥31.36M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥20.97M
3. Natsuka Hori ¥15.48M
4. Yuki Ichinose ¥14.21M
5. Erika Kikuchi ¥11.27M
6. Harukyo Nomura ¥10.74M
7. Sakura Yokomine ¥10.19M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥9.49M
9. Young Kim ¥8.24M
10. Megumi Kido ¥7.12M
11. Shiho Oyama ¥6.82M
12. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥6.79M
13. Na-Ri Lee ¥5.46M
14. Yun-Jye Wei ¥5.33M
15. Teresa Lu ¥5.32M

Next up on the JLPGA is the Yamaha Ladies, which features pretty much all the tour's finest, including Yuri Fudoh, as well as 17-year-olds new pro Hyo-Joo Kim and amateur Nao Honda.

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