Sunday, April 21, 2013

Vantelin Ladies Sunday: Miki Saiki Gets JLPGA Win #6 with Birdies on 17 and 18

Miki Saiki watched Ritsuko Ryu finish birdie-birdie from the group ahead of her to get to -3 in the Vantelin Ladies, but the JLPGA veteran, who's finished in the top 20 on the money list every season since she first joined the tour in 2007 and is coming off the best season of her career, in which she won twice and finished 5th on the money list, was totally unfazed.  Not only had she birdied both of them on Saturday to take the 2nd-round lead, but she had already bounced back from a run of 3 bogeys between the 5th and 8th holes with a pair of birdies on 11 and 12, even as her playing partners Sakura Yokomine and Yuki Ichinose were collapsing around her.  Yes, she had bogeyed the short par-4 15th to fall back to -2 for the week, and she had played the last 4 holes terribly on Friday when she shot a 73, but now she had a chance to make up for that double and those two bogeys.

And she took it, finishing birdie-birdie for her 6th career JLPGA victory and extending her run of seasons with JLPGA wins to 4 in a row.  In so doing, the 28 year-old joined last week's winner, 27-year-old Na-Ri Kim, in snapping a run of wins on tour by players 21 or younger.  In fact, one of them, Natsuka Hori, was in position to win this week, but her 4 bogeys over her last 10 holes more than offset her 3 birdies in her final 8 and she had to settle for a tie for 4th with Yumiko Yoshida and Yukari Baba at -1.  And Kim herself had a slim chance to make it 2 wins in a row when she opened with a 32, but a 38 on the back ended those hopes and she fell all the way to T11.  In any case, it was nice to see one of the JLPGA's big names prevail in a week when it seemed most of the rest of them didn't have anything close to their A-games.

Saiki's win, combined with Mi-Jeong Jeon's unexpected missed cut, leapfrogged her all the way to #2 on the JLPGA money list; she made up a lot of ground on leader Rikako Morita, who had her 1st bad tournament of the season:

1. Rikako Morita ¥35.27M
2. Miki Saiki ¥24.38M
3. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥21.77M
4. Natsuka Hori ¥19.93M
5. Mamiko Higa ¥19.18M
6. Ritsuko Ryu ¥17.85M
7. Yuki Ichinose ¥16.05M
8. Teresa Lu ¥14.62M
9. Na-Ri Kim ¥13.92M
10. Sakura Yokomine ¥13.47M
11. Yukari Baba ¥13.20M
12. Erika Kikuchi ¥11.84M
13. Harukyo Nomura ¥10.74M
14. Miki Sakai ¥10.45M
15. Megumi Kido ¥9.60M
16. Yumiko Yoshida ¥8.77M
17. Kaori Ohe ¥8.71M
18. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥8.67M
19. Young Kim ¥8.57M
20. Shiho Oyama ¥8.40M
21. Bo-Mee Lee ¥7.66M
22. Junko Omote ¥6.95M
23. Hiromi Mogi ¥6.76M
24. Ji-Hee Lee ¥6.67M
25. Esther Lee ¥6.62M

Next up on the JLPGA is the Fujisankei Ladies Classic, which Kaori Ohe won last year.  I'm not spotting any big-name foreign players on the field list, which makes a lot of sense, as the LPGA is in the midst of an 8-week run in which they play 7 tournaments leading up to the Wegmans LPGA Championship.  Let's see if the late-20s JLPGAers can hold back the tour's youth movement for another week!

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