Friday, May 31, 2013

ShopRite LPGA Classic Friday: Jutanugarn and Blumenherst Lead, Lewis and Wie Trail

Moriya Jutanugarn and Amanda Blumenherst lead the ShopRite LPGA Classic on the strength of 5-under-par 66s, while defending champion Stacy Lewis is hot on their trail after opening with a 67 and Michelle Wie is in the hunt thanks to her low round of the season, a 5-birdie 68.  As you can see from just this selection of names, there were some real surprises on the 1st day of this 54-hole event.

On the upside, Ji Young Oh, Jennifer Song, and Sara-Maude Juneau also broke 70, while Mi Hyang Lee and Nicole Jeray got under par with opening 70s and Christina Kim and Heather Bowie Young shot even-par 71s.

On the downside, Sandra Gal shot a 78, Morgan Pressel and Jane Park 77s, Suzanne Pettersen, Angela Stanford, Ilhee Lee, and Danielle Kang 76s, Hee Kyung Seo, Catriona Matthew, and Ayako Uehara 75s, Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, So Yeon Ryu, Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, and Karine Icher 74s, and Cristie Kerr, Azahara Munoz, Chie Arimura, Momoko Ueda, and Caroline Hedwall 73s.

Of course, a good number of golfers played to expectations, with Shanshan Feng, Beatriz Recari, Hee Young Park, and Pornanong Phatlum shooting 69s, Ai Miyazato, Haeji Kang, Chella Choi, Gerina Piller, Mo Martin, and Jenny Shin shooting 70s, and players like Ji-Yai Shin (71), Karrie Webb (72), Anna Nordqvist (72), In-Kyung Kim (72), and Mika Miyazato (72) hanging at or near par.

Given how quickly a round can change at Seaview--Chella Choi opened with a bogey-free 29 on the back but closed with a birdie-less 41 on the front, to take just one example--a lot of golfers are still in this thing, provided they can get and stay hot on moving day.  With only 26s golfers at par or better after the 1st round, you can pass a lot of people with a low Saturday score.  Let's see if anyone can do it!

ShopRite LPGA Classic News Flash: Michelle Wie Ties Her Lowest Round of the Year

Michelle Wie opened the ShopRite LPGA Classic with a 3-under-par 68 this morning.  It was her best round of the year, tied only by her final round at the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii; in fact, it was only her 4th sub-70 round of the year and 2nd out of her home state.  She's currently tied for leader in the clubhouse with Stacy Lewis, 1 shot behind Moriya Jutanugarn and Amanda Blumenherst, who both have a few holes left to play.  Wie's driving accuracy has been even worse than usual this season, but she hit 12 of 14 fairways and hit 14 greens in regulation today on a course that tends to favor the LPGA's precision players rather than their bombers.  I'm hoping this trend continues, as Wie hasn't been doing much in the last month to make one of my boldest predictions look very good!

[Update 1 (1:10 pm):  Oops, turns out Stacy Lewis had a 67 and Moriya Jutanugarn ended up with a 66, but I wouldn't pooh-pooh Wie's accomplishment, as Ai Miyazato had to fight back for a 70 after bogeying 4 of her last 5 holes on the back (her front), Ji-Yai Shin had a 71, In-Kyung Kim a 72, Cristie Kerr a 73, Inbee Park and Paula Creamer 74s (the latter thanks to a walkoff triple), Catriona Matthew a 75, Suzann Pettersen and Angela Stanford 76s, and Sandra Gal a 78.  Azahara Munoz and Na Yeon Choi are also well over par as they conclude their rounds.  It was not an easy morning for scoring!]

[Update 2 (6/1/13, 10:02 am):  Glad to see Ruthless Mike has a similar take on Wie's round!]

The Road to Sebonack: May 29th and 30th Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Turns out I was slower than the official USGA results page this time--thank my vegetable garden for that!  You can see all the qualifiers on my overview post from May 8th.
May 29

Bear Lakes Country Club (Links Course), West Palm Beach, Fla. [pairings]
Nelly Korda(a) - BRADENTON, FLA.
Shannon Aubert(a) - FRANCE
Emily Tubert(a) - BURBANK, CALIF.
Jackie Barenborg Stoelting - VERO BEACH, FLA.
A - Lindy Duncan(a) - PLANTATION, FLA.
A - Sandra Angulo - PORT ST. LUCIE, FLA.

The Broadmoor (West Course), Colorado Springs, Colo. [pairings]
Sally Watson - SCOTLAND
Nicole Zhang(a) - CANADA
A - Katie Kempter - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
A - Kim Kaufman(a) - CLARK, S.D.
May 30

Algonquin Golf Club, St. Louis, Mo.
Izzy Beisiegel - CANADA
Megan Grehan - MAMARONECK, N.Y.
A - Emma Jandel - DAYTON, OHIO

Bent Tree Country Club, Dallas, Texas
Jamie Hullett - MESQUITE, TEXAS
Catherine Matranga - FORT WORTH, TEXAS
Kyung Kim(a) - CHANDLER, ARIZ.
A - Casey Danielson(a) - OSCEOLA, WIS.
A - Bertine Strauss(a) - SOUTH AFRICA

Carolina Trace Country Club (Lake Course), Sanford, N.C.
Patcharajutar Kongkraphan - THAILAND
Tiffany Tavee - TEMPE, ARIZ.
Christine Song - MARYVILLE, TENN.
A - Lauren Stephenson(a) - LEXINGTON, S.C.
A - Nannette Hill - PELHAM MANOR, N.Y.

Edgewood Country Club, River Vale, N.J. 
Brooke Mackenzie Henderson(a) - CANADA
Annie Park(a) - LEVITTOWN, N.Y.
Kendra Little - EUGENE, ORE.
A - Christel Boeljon - NETHERLANDS
A - Brittany Altomare - SHREWSBURY, MASS.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Who Are Your Picks for the ShopRite LPGA Classic?

With 1st-time winners in the last 2 LPGA events, you'd think this week's predictions might be a little harder than usual to make.  But let's face, it, we're more likely to get unexpected champions when the field is relatively weak (as it was in Alabama) or when the course is new or conditions are weird (as they were in the Bahamas).  Seaview, the host course for the ShopRite LPGA Classic, on the other hand, is a known quantity, a short, ball-striker's course with lots of Atlantic breezes (or worse) to liven things up.  And as Tony Jesselli notes in his tournament preview, the field is very strong.  So here are my entries in this week's PakPicker contest at Seoul

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Shin Ji-Yai
3. Creamer
4. Kerr
5. Lewis, Stacy
6. Miyazato Mika
7. Webb
8. Ryu
9. Nordqvist
10. Park Inbee
11. Kim In-Kyung
12. Choi Na Yeon

Alts: Seo; Arimura; Pettersen

So who are you picking this week?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Road to Sebonack: May 28th Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Turns out I was slower than the official USGA results page for the Florida results this time--thank my downstairs toilet for that!  But I've got the Minnesota results before them, both here and at my overview post from May 8th.  However, Golfweek beat us both!

Heathrow Country Club, Heathrow, Fla. [pairings]

Lorie Kane - CANADA
Yueer Feng(a) - ORLANDO, FLA.
Caroline Westrup - SWEDEN
Doris Chen(a) - BRADENTON, FLA.
A - Moira Dunn - UTICA, N.Y.
A - Eileen Vargas - COLOMBIA

Industry Hills Golf Club (Eisenhower Course), Industry Hills, Calif.

a-Mariah Stackhouse . . . 139
Alice Kim . . . 141
Aimee Cho . . . 142
a-Jenny Hahn . . . 143
Vanessa Brockett . . . 145

Minneapolis Golf Club, St. Louis Park, Minn.

146 Ayako Uehara
147 Kirby Dreher
149 Lauren Mielbrecht (1st alt.)
150 Jennifer Ha (2nd alt.)

Victoria Tanco and Ulrika Van-Niekirk were probably the two biggest names not to make it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

JLPGA Money List, May 2013

With Rikako Morita's 2nd victory of the season yesterday, she leapfrogged Miki Saiki back to the top of the JLPGA money list; meanwhile, Mi-Jeong Jeon's runner-up brought her to #5, youngster Natsuka Hori shows surprising staying power, and Shiho Oyama enters the top 15.

1. Rikako Morita ¥58.73M

2. Miki Saiki ¥53.57M
3. Sakura Yokomine ¥40.04M
4. Hiromi Mogi ¥34.83M
5. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥33.58M
6. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥31.84M
7. Natsuka Hori ¥30.82M
8. Yuki Ichinose ¥24.35M
9. Ritsuko Ryu ¥22.63M
10. Mamiko Higa ¥21.51M
11. Teresa Lu ¥20.02M
12. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥19.53M
13. Yukari Baba ¥19.38M
14. Na-Ri Kim ¥17.56M
15. Shiho Oyama ¥17.16M
16. Kumiko Kaneda ¥16.84M
17. Miki Sakai ¥15.22M
18. Erika Kikuchi ¥14.20M
19. Rui Kitada ¥14.02M
20. Junko Omote ¥13.98M
21. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.27M
22. Harukyo Nomura ¥12.63M
23. Na-Ri Lee ¥12.34M
24. Yuki Sakurai ¥12.13M
25. Yumiko Yoshida ¥11.80M
26. Erina Hara ¥11.48M
27. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥11.44M
28. Megumi Kido ¥11.43M
29. Bo-Mee Lee ¥11.12M
30. Kaori Ohe ¥10.72M
31. Mayu Hattori ¥10.63M
32. Esther Lee ¥10.63M
33. Ji-Woo Lee ¥10.59M
34. Phoebe Yao ¥10.09M
35. Da-Ye Na ¥9.81M

Dropping out of the top 35 were Young Kim (#36) and Ji-Hee Lee (#37).  Other big names outside the top 35 include Yuri Fudoh (#44), Akane Iijima (#46), Shinobu Moromizato (#50), Ayako Uehara (#52), Momoko Ueda (#55), Bo-Bae Song (#61), Jin Joo Hong (#62), Shanshan Feng (#66), Yuko Mitsuka (#90), and Tamie Durdin (#98).

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Congratulations to Rikako Morita and Ilhee Lee!

Just a quick note to congratulate Rikako Morita for her 2nd win of the season and 4th of her JLPGA career today at the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open and Ilhee Lee for getting her 1st LPGA win the 1st time the LPGA held a tournament in the Bahamas.  I'm beat after hosting a pre-Memorial Day party for a bunch of friends, so more tomorrow!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic Saturday: Paola Moreno Leads Chase Pack of 33 Golfers within 5 Shots of Her

Paola Moreno was -4 for her 12 holes today and -9 through 24 in the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, which was good enough to get her past Lindsey Wright, who birdied 7 of her 12 holes to move to -8.  But with Eun-Hee Ji and Julieta Granada lurking 2 behind Moreno, Cristie Kerr, Hee Kyung Seo, Anna Nordqvist, Hee Young Park, Ilhee Lee, Mina Harigae, and 1st-round tri-leader Heather Bowie Young 3 back, and a total of 33 golfers within 5 shots of the lead, Moreno and Wright will have to keep the pedal to the metal tomorrow to avoid being passed by their lead chase pack.  Among those hoping to get hot tomorrow include Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, Jessica Korda, Morgan Pressel, and Mika Miyazato at -5 and Stacy Lewis, Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz, Lexi Thompson, Caroline Hedwall, and Sun Young Yoo at -4.

Other top golfers aren't faring nearly so well in these Atlantean conditions.  Inbee Park's right hand must still be bothering her, as she's +7, 1 shot ahead of Brittany Lincicome, while Chie Arimura at +3 and Yani Tseng at +1 aren't doing much better.  But this is one of those tournaments where you're either on or you're not and there's not much time to turn things around.  With 5 par 3s and 2 par 5s among the 12 holes being played, however, there are opportunities for those who can dial in their irons tomorrow.  Should be an exciting finish!

Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open Set-Up: Rikako Morita-Shiho Oyama Showdown in the Works

Tomorrow's final round of the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open is a microcosm of the 2013 JLPGA season.  Whereas in the recent past Korean golfers were either dominating the tour (Sun-Ju Ahn) or regularly in the running (Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ji-Hee Lee, Bo-Mee Lee, Inbee Park), this year has been characterized by a clash between older and younger generations of Japanese golfers.

Through 2 rounds in Aichi, 23-year-old Rikako Morita (67-67, -10) leads Shiho Oyama, who turns 36 today, by 2 shots, with only 1 other player, 23-year-old Shiho Toyonaga, within 5 shots of the lead.  Oyama gave herself quite the birthday present today by birdieing her last 3 holes in a row and 4 of her last 6 holes, making up for a slow start that saw her fall 4 shots behind Morita in the 1st 8 holes.  Whether Morita will get her 2nd win of the season and 4th of her career or Oyama will make her 13th career victory her 1st in 2 seasons is a great story.

But the generation gaps go lower down the leaderboard as well.  Natsuka Hori (-4), Miki Sakai (-3), and Da-Ye Na (-3) are representing the youngsters, while Sakura Yokomine (-3), Momoko Ueda (-3), Miki Saiki (-3), and Mihoko Iseri (-3), not to mention Mi-Jeong Jeon (-3) and Ji-Hee Lee (-2), have all achieved veteran status.  At -1, Harukyo Nomura takes on Yuri Fudoh, Yuko Mitsuka (who got to -6 early in her round but couldn't keep it going), Akane Iijima, Yukari Baba, and Na-Ri Kim.

Can't wait to see who prevails and whether generation rather than nation will continue to be the major fault line on the JLPGA.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic Friday: Young and Cavalleri Lead the Morning Wave with 39s

The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic is getting a lot of attention from golf bloggers who only attend to the LPGA sporadically.  It's not because Heather Bowie Young and Silvia Cavalleri lead at -6 that Armchair Golf is covering the 1st round.  It's because they broke 40.  Huh?  Fans of Tony's LPGA Report, Brent Kelley's golf site, and Ruthless Golf already know why and how.  After more than a foot of rain fell on the course in the heaviest storm to hit the Bahamas in a generation, the LPGA decided to play the holes that were playable.  And today that meant a 12-hole round.

Here's how others from the morning wave did over those 12 holes:

-5 Anna Nordqvist, Paola Moreno, Austin Ernst, Lisa McCloskey
-4 Suzann Pettersen, Brittany Lang, Julieta Granada, Alena Sharp, Ilhee Lee, Tiffany Joh, Jane Rah
-3 So Yeon Ryu, Jessica Korda, Mika Miyazato, Maria Hjorth, Mina Harigae, and more
-2 Se Ri Pak, Laura Davies, Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz, Chella Choi, Morgan Pressel, Karen Stupples, Meena Lee, and Katherine Hull-Kirk
-1 Juli Inkster, Stacy Lewis, In-Kyung Kim, Jee Young Lee, Sandra Gal, Gerina Piller, Lindsey Wright, Kristy McPherson, Ryann O'Toole, and more
E Laura Diaz, Wendy Ward, Candie Kung, Haeji Kang, Irene Cho, Pernilla Lindberg, Caroline Masson, and more
+1 Inbee Park, Catriona Matthew, Christina Kim, Guilia Sergas, and more
+2 Chie Arimura, Jennifer Song, Hannah Yun, Brooke Pancake, and more
+3 Song-Hee Kim

In the afternoon wave, Lorie Kane, Pat Hurst, and Mariajo Uribe are -4 with only a few holes left to play.  I'll have an update later tonight!

[Update 1 (7:20 pm):  Ji-Yai Shin WDed, Hee-Won Han is -5 with a few holes to go.]

[Update 2 (7:40 pm):  Hee-Won Han now -7 with 1 to play!]

[Update 3 (7:42 pm):  Han only has 2 eagles today--can she get a 3rd on the par-4 8th?]

[Update 4 (8:03 pm):  Wait, I'm confused, is Han -9 or -3?]

[Update 5 (5/25/13, 12:12 am):  I gave up on not-quite-live-blogging when I realized the scorecards are more accurate than the leaderboard, so here's my afternoon wave update with a few groups needing still to finish their 1st rounds later in the morning.

-4 Hee Young Park, Karine Icher
-3 Na Yeon Choi, Hee Kyung Seo, Jennifer Johnson, Lizette Salas, Hee-Won Han, Sun Young Yoo
-2 Paula Creamer, Jane Park
-1 Cristie Kerr, Caroline Hedwall
E Lexi Thompson, Natalie Gulbis, Mo Martin
+1 Ya Ni Tseng
+2 Pat Hurst
+3 Danielle Kang
+5 Lorie Kane

So much for Hurst and Kane's supposed early hot starts!  Hope fixes this glitch in time for today's round!]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Road to Sebonack: May 21st Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Since the official USGA results page is often slow to be updated--at least judging by recent history--I'm sharing results from yesterday's qualifier below and on my overview post from mid-May.

IceCat at Seoul posted the following results late last night:


Katy Harris - Humble, TX - 149 
Jessica Shepley - Tobermory, ON - 149 
Christi Cano - San Antonio, TX - 151 
A - Cara Freeman - San Tan City, AZ - 152 
A - Kuo Ai-chen - Taipei, Taiwan - 153

Who Are Your Picks for the LPGA's New Event in the Bahamas?

The LPGA heads to Paradise Island for the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.  While Tony Jesselli is certainly right to point out that the length of the par-73 course they're playing and its 5 par 5s will help the LPGA's bombers, you've got to also take into account who's got experience playing island golf in changeable winds.  With that in mind, here are my picks:

1. Miyazato Ai
2. Lewis, Stacy
3. Park Inbee
4. Shin Ji-Yai
5. Korda
6. Choi Na Yeon
7. Pettersen
8. Kerr
9. Ryu
10. Creamer
11. Seo
12. Arimura

Alts: Choi Chella; Munoz; Miyazato Mika

How about yours?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Road to Sebonack: May 20th Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Since the official USGA results page is often slow to be updated--at least judging by recent history--I'll be sharing results from today's qualifiers below and on my overview post from mid-May.

[Update 3 (5/22/13, 12:54 am):  The Arizona and Hawaii results are up on the USGA site, but not the Oregon ones.  Guess they're a bit distracted, eh?]

Arrowhead Country Club, Glendale, Ariz.

Alexandra Kaui(a) - KAPOLEI, HAWAII
Elena Robles - TORRANCE, CALIF.
A - Mikayla Harmon(a) - GILBERT, ARIZ.
A - Hannah O'Sullivan(a) - PARADISE VALLEY, ARIZ.

[Update 2 (10:18 pm):  Our 2nd results are in!]

Lake Merced Golf Club, Daly City, Calif. (I'd love to see NYer Kristina Wong do well here! [Too bad she didn't.])

140 Casie Cathrea

144 Emily Childs
147 Elizabeth Schultz
150 Hannah Suh (1st alt.)
151 Kathleen Scavo (2nd alt.), Sara Banke

Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii

Mariel Galdiano(a) - PEARL CITY, HAWAII
A - Yuka Kuriyama - JAPAN
A - Allisen Corpuz(a) - HONOLULU, HAWAII

[Update 1 (10:00 pm):  Our 1st results are in!]

Waverley Country Club, Portland, Ore.

146 Karinn Dickinson, Kelli Bowers

149 Allison Hanna (1st alt.)
150 Maiya Tanaka, Whitney French (not sure yet which is 2nd alt.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Sunday: Jennifer Johnson Breaks Through!

3rd-round leader of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Chella Choi made more bogeys in her 1st 12 holes today than in her previous 54, opening the door to a slew of golfers who were going low when it mattered the most.  Ji-Yai Shin fired a bogey-free 63 to join her at -19 for the week, and they were joined by Ariya Jutanugarn (65), Karrie Webb (68), and Anna Nordqvist (69).  But as well as all of them played this week--and as well as Mo Martin (64, -14), Hee Kyung Seo (65, -17), and Marcy Hart (65, -7) played today--they couldn't match the trio at the very top of the leaderboard.

Jessica Korda was going for her 2nd win of her career and after her 3rd birdie of the day, on the par-5 6th, she was already at -19.  Pornanong Phatlum was trying to match Onnarin Sattayabanphot's win on the JLPGA earlier in the day, but it took her 9th birdie of the day, on the par-3 17th, to get to -19.  By then, Jennifer Johnson, also going for her 1st LPGA victory, had reached -19 with her 6th birdie of the day, on the par-3 14th.  Phatlum was the 1st of the 3 to finish, and she did it in style, making her 3rd birdie in a row to close out her 63 for the day and finish the tournament at -20.  Korda, meanwhile had fallen to -17 with 6 holes left to play, but birdied 13, 15, and 16 to get to -20.  By then, however, Johnson had birdied 16 and 17 to become the 1st player in the field to reach -21.  When she parred the par-4 18th, she set a tournament record. Could Korda match it and force a playoff?  A bogey on the 17th ended her hopes, but she did birdie the 18th to join Phatlum at -20.

And just like that, a Young American had entered the winner's circle, following up on Stacy Lewis, who actually improved on last year's winning total by a shot, but ended up 3 behind the 3rd-year pro whose best 2 previous finishes had come at the Navistar Classic (8th in 2011, 11th in 2012).  The Arizona State grad had been hitting the ball great all season, but her putter had never really caught fire until this week.  It's a huge surprise that Johnson prevailed over much bigger names, but that's why they play 72 holes, and over that span she missed only 4 fairways and 9 greens.

This was also a good week for LPGA rookie and JLPGA star Chie Arimura, who played 20 holes between her back 9 Saturday and early on her back 9 Sunday bogey-free and -11.  That's where she ended up for the week, which was good enough for her 1st top 25 finish as an LPGA member.  It was also great to see Tiffany Joh get double digits under par in a state where she had memorably duelled Lexi Thompson down the home stretch.  Azahara Munoz shot her 2nd mid-60s round of the week to get to -14, joining Martin, Thidappa Suwannapura, Mariajo Uribe, Eun-Hee Ji, and Sydnee Michaels, while Mina Harigae joined Arimura and a host of big names at -11.

This was certainly a confidence-boosting week for a lot of golfers and many of them will get to celebrate and try to keep the momentum going in the Bahamas next week.  But none more than Johnson, who is now a serious contender for a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team.  There are going to be a lot of Young Americans vying for those last few guaranteed spots.  The next few weeks and months should be very interesting!

Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies Sunday: Onnarin Sattayabanphot Breaks Through!

Onnarin Sattayabanphot held off Kumiko Kaneda and Maiko Wakabayashi to take her 1st-ever JLPGA title today at the Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies.  The Thai sensation stayed calm as Kaneda birdied her 1st 3 holes in a row to get to -7 for the week from 2 groups ahead of Sattayabanphot's threesome.  Onnarin birdied the par-3 2nd and 12th holes to get to -8, even as her playing partners fell off the pace.  Ritsuko Ryu opened with a birdieless 39 and was never a factor, while Wakabayashi bogeyed 3 of her 1st 8 holes and fell to -3 for the week.  The only player to hang with Sattayabanphot and Kaneda on the front was Shiho Oyama, who got to -6 for the week on the strength of a bogey-free 34, but disaster struck on the back in the form of 2 double bogeys and 2 bogeys, dropping the veteran into a tie for 6th with Ryu, Shinobu Moromizato, Yukari Baba, and Erina Hara.

So the stage was cleared for Kaneda and Sattayabanphot.  The young Japanese star was the first to blink with a bogey on the long par-4 15th that dropped her back to -6 and she seemed out of it when she followed it up with another bogey on the medium-length par-4 17th, but Sattayabanphot gave her some hope with a bogey on the long par-3 16th.  Still, she held a 2-shot lead with 2 holes to play and when she parred the 17th just needed a bogey or better to secure the victory.  She made it interesting, but in the end she made the bogey and joined the ranks of Thai winners that bangkokbobby surveyed earlier this morning.  Two late birdies by Wakabayashi enabled her to catch Kaneda at -5, while Rui Kitada played steady golf in the Fukuoka rains to stay at -4 and take 4th and 20-year-old Taiwanese newcomer Phoebe Yao fired the round of the day, a 4-birdie 69, to seize a solo 5th-place finish.

The JLPGA's biggest names were never a factor, but many of them ended up with pretty decent finishes:  Bo-Bae Song and Soo-Yun Kang were T11 at -1, Sun-Ju Ahn and Mayu Hattori tied for 16th at E, Miki Saiki, Sakura Yokomine, Hiromi Mogi, Ji-Hee Lee, and Ayako Uehara were among those who ended up T18 at +1.  Others weren't so fortunate, as Momoko Ueda had to settle for T27 at +3 after her 2nd-straight 75, Rikako Morita fell all the way to T33 at +4 after shooting a 76, and Yuri Fudoh ended up +5 and T37.

This means that there wasn't a whole lot of movement on the JLPGA money list, besides Sattayabanphot's leap from #23 to #5, Wakabayashi's from #28 to #12, Kaneda's debut in the top 30 at #15, and Kitada's at #17:

1. Miki Saiki ¥51.99M
2. Rikako Morita ¥46.13M
3. Sakura Yokomine ¥39.12M
4. Hiromi Mogi ¥34.42M
5. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥31.58M
6. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥27.42M
7. Natsuka Hori ¥25.90M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥22.13M
9. Yuki Ichinose ¥21.90M
10. Mamiko Higa ¥21.51M
11. Teresa Lu ¥20.02M
12. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥19.13M
13. Yukari Baba ¥18.46M
14. Na-Ri Kim ¥16.35M
15. Kumiko Kaneda ¥15.63M
16. Miki Sakai ¥14.54M
17. Rui Kitada ¥14.02M
18. Junko Omote ¥13.98M
19. Erika Kikuchi ¥13.91M
20. Shiho Oyama ¥13.31M
21. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.27M
22. Harukyo Nomura ¥11.95M
23. Na-Ri Lee ¥11.75M
24. Yumiko Yoshida ¥11.48M
25. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥11.44M
26. Yuki Sakurai ¥11.20M
27. Erina Hara ¥11.16M
28. Megumi Kido ¥10.88M
29. Kaori Ohe ¥10.72M
30. Phoebe Yao ¥10.09M
31. Mayu Hattori ¥9.96M
32. Bo-Mee Lee ¥9.92M
33. Ji-Woo Lee ¥9.91M
34. Young Kim ¥9.09M
35. Ji-Hee Lee ¥8.40M

It's looking like Momoko Ueda will stay on the JLPGA for at least another week for the Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open.  I don't see Ayako Uehara or Harukyo Nomura on the field list, so they're probably either in the States or headed there (they're not entered in the LPGA's inaugural event in the Bahamas, although Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, and Chie Arimura are).  Looks like most everyone else among the JLPGA's finest will be teeing it up next week.  It'll be interesting to see if the players who contended this week can keep it going in Aichi!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Saturday: Now That's a Moving Day!

Chella Choi leads the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic after 54 holes on the strength of a steadily brilliant 67-66-66 start in which she's missed only 4 fairways and 7 greens and made only 2 bogeys.  But shooting 3 rounds in the mid-60s this week is kind of ho-hum, compared to the fireworks we've seen from all kinds of golfers.  Sydnee Michaels's 62 from Friday was eclipsed today by Anna Nordqvist's 61, which included a bogey and moved her all the way to T2 at -16 with 2nd-round leader Jessica Korda (69).  Recent world #1 Stacy Lewis fired a bogey-free 63 to catch Michaels at -13, just 1 shot behind Jennifer Johnson (65) and 2 shots behind Karrie Webb (69).  In addition to Chie Arimura's 65 that I already blogged about, Meena Lee also went -7 on moving day, but the difference is that Lee joined the 19 other players double digits under par by shooting hers.  Sure, Arimura moved from T70 to T33 (and Tiffany Joh and Paige Mackenzie moved from there to T46 with their early 67s), but when you need to shoot a 59 from the middle of the pack to have a chance to be in contention tomorrow, you know the field is playing well.  Will a Young American step up?  Will Choi get her 1st-ever LPGA victory?  Will a Hall of Famer return to the winner's circle tomorrow?  Or will someone else entirely go super-low tomorrow and surprise everyone?

Now That's More Like It! Chie Arimura Posts 29 on Back 9 in Mobile Bay LPGA Classic

Chie Arimura has had--let's face it--a bad rookie season on the LPGA.  But she may just have turned a serious corner today at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.  After parring her 1st 11 holes and staying at E for the entire tournament, she birdied 12, 13, and 14, then finished eagle-birdie-birdie!  That's a 29 on the back, 65 on the day, and a -7 run over her last 7 holes.  With Rookie of the Year race leader Moriya Jutanugarn missing the cut, Sunday will be a very interesting indicator of whether the star from the JLPGA is ready to take on the wunderkind from Thailand....

Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies Set-Up: Is Onnarin Sattayabanphot on Her Way to Her 1st JLPGA Victory?

Onnarin Sattayabanphot leads the Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies after 36 holes, but following up her bogey-free 31 on the front with a 37 on the back today opened the door for a trio of young Japanese stars, Ritsuko Ryu (66), Maiko Wakabayashi (68), and Yuki Ichinose (71), to close to within 1 shot of her heading into the final round (they fired 33, 33, and 34 on the back, respectively).  Only 2 shots back is another youngster, Kumiko Kaneda, and 3 established stars, Shiho Oyama, Rui Kitada, and Erina Hara.  In all, there are 18 golfers within 5 shots of the lead--including huge names Sakura Yokomine and Shinobu Moromizato at -2 and Sun-Ju Ahn and Ji-Hee Lee at -1--who can spoil Sattayabanphot's chance for her 1st-ever JLPGA victory and Oyama's 1st since 2011.

Despite the good scoring at the top of the leaderboard, my old stomping ground Fukuoka hasn't been kind to the majority of the field.  Ayako Uehara's stuck in neutral at E, recent money-list leader Rikako Morita dropped back there with a 74, and Momoko Ueda fell from -4 for the week standing on the 6th tee today to E walking off the 18th green.  And they're still playing tomorrow.  Money-list leader Miki Saiki is in at +2 and so is living legend Yuri Fudoh at +3, but out are Bo-Mee Lee, Young Kim, Harukyo Nomura, and Teresa Lu, among many others.  Cutting the field to the top 50 and ties as the JLPGA typically does is tough!

With 3 Thai stars near the top of the LPGA leaderboard in Alabama, wouldn't it be neat if Thai women swept the two biggest female tours in the world?  It's almost enough to make me not root for Shiho Oyama!

Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Friday: Young Americans II, The Sequel, Part Deux

Jessica Korda has started the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic 66-65 to take a 1-shot lead on Karrie Webb, who charged up the leaderboard with a bogey-free 63, but the low round of the day belonged to Sydnee Michaels, whose 62 included an eagle and 8 birdies.

With Lexi Thompson and Mina Harigae at -9 and Jennifer Johnson, Kim Welch, and Lisa McCloskey at -7, the Young Americans are still in this thing (not to disparage the not-quite-so-young Americans Nicole Castrale at -8 and Moira Dunn at -5!).  But the Thai contingent made a move today, with Pornanong Phatlum (65) and Thidappa Suwannapura (67) catching Michaels at -10 and leapfrogging Ariya Jutanugarn (66), who's "only" at -9.  Azahara Munoz's 64 and Beatriz Recari's 70 meant the Spanish Armada isn't out of this, either, although at -9 and -6 respectively they'll have to go even lower on moving day, no doubt.  And of course the Korean contingent isn't to be forgotten, although having Chella Choi (67-66) as their standard-bearer is a little surprising, with Hee Kyung Seo at -8, Eun-Hee Ji at -7, and Ji-Yai Shin and Hee Young Park at -6 a little lower down the leaderboard than expected.

With Angela Stanford at -5 and Stacy Lewis at -4, the door is open for Webb, a Young American, or a young international star to take this thing on the weekend.  But it's also an opportunity for Song-Hee Kim at -4, Mitsuki Katahira and Seon Hwa Lee at -3, Sun Young Yoo at -2, Jennifer Song and Ryann O'Toole at -1, and Chie Arimura and Tiffany Joh at E to get their seasons going.  Rookie of the Year race leader Moriya Jutanugarn unexpectedly missed the cut, so this is a great opportunity for Arimura to make up some ground on her.  She'll need a great weekend to do it!

[Update (9:27 am):  Here's bangkokbobby's take!]

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mobile Bay LPGA Class Thursday: The Young Americans Step Up

You gotta love the leaderboard at the end of the 1st round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic!  Lexi Thompson: 65. Jessica Korda: 66. Mina Harigae and Jennifer Johnson: 67. Vicky Hurst, Lauren Doughtie, Dori Carter, and Amelia Lewis: 68.  I know I've focused a lot on the globalization of women's golf here at Mostly Harmless.  With the rise of Lydia Ko, Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, Hyo-Joo Kim, and other young international stars, it's been easy to see that the days of an American monopoly on the top talent on the planet are over.  Which makes it all the more gratifying to see a new generation of Americans step up and try to compete at a world-class level.  Let's see if they can keep it up over the next 54 holes.  With Eun-Hee Ji (65), Hee Young Park (67), and Hee Kyung Seo (68) in the mix, it won't be easy!  Not to mention Beatriz Recari (68), Sandra Gal (68), Karrie Webb (69),  and Ariya (69)....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Road to Sebonack: May 15th Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Since the official USGA results page is often slow to be updated--at least judging by recent history--I'm sharing results from today's qualifiers below and on my overview post from last week.

Oak Valley Golf Club, Beaumont, Calif. [pairings]

The biggest names in the field include Cheyenne Woods, Stephanie Na, Cathryn Bristow, Tiffany Lua, Ani Gulugian, and Allison Lee....  If anyone finds out the results before me, please post a comment or send me an email!

[Update (5/16/13, 6:08 pm):  Assuming you all got this from the USGA site already, but here are the results!]

Gabriella Then(a) - RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIF.
Stacey Keating - AUSTRALIA
A - Grace Na(a) - ALAMEDA, CALIF.
A - Eun-Jeong Seong(a) - REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Who Are Your Picks for the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic?

As Tony Jesselli recently pointed out, many top players are skipping the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, but for me that just means that I get to root for youngsters like Tiffany Joh, Mina Harigae, Jennifer Song, Mitsuki Katahira, and Hannah Yun, not to mention more experienced players trying to restart their hikes up the comeback trail like Seon Hwa Lee, Moira Dunn, Jane Park, Song-Hee Kim, and Laura Diaz.  With lots of recent additions to the U.S. Women's Open field playing this week, it'll be interesting to see which of them can keep it rolling in Alabama (so to speak).

Here are my picks:

1. Lewis, Stacy
2. Shin Ji-Yai
3. Jutanugarn, Ariya
4. Kang Haeji
5. Stanford
6. Webb
7. Munoz
8. Park Hee Young
9. Icher
10. Korda
11. Recari
12. Seo

Alts: Jutanugarn, Moriya; Yang, Amy; Thompson

Who are yours?

The Road to Sebonack: May 14th Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Since the official USGA results page is often slow to be updated--at least judging by recent history--I'm sharing results from today's qualifiers below and on my overview post from last week.

Cantigny Golf, Wheaton, Ill. [pairings]

Camilla Hedberg and Isabelle Lendl were among the 7 golfers to withdraw from this event.  After the 1st round, Caroline Powers (71) leads Abbey Carlson and Prima Thammaraks by 1 shot, but with no big names left in this field, anything can happen!

[Update (7:56 pm): Caroline Powers (143) is in, but it's hard to tell from the leaderboard whether Ana Menendez or Chelsea Harris at 145 got the 2nd spot.  The one who didn't will be 1st alternate and Alejandra Cangrejo at 146 is the 2nd alternate.  Abbey and Prima missed the playoff for that last possible spot by a single shot.  Golf is cruel!]

[Update (9:12 pm): IceCat at Seoul has Chelsea in and Ana 1st alternate!]

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Road to Sebonack: May 13th Results for 2013 U.S. Women's Open Sectional Qualifying

Here's a link to the USGA's overview of the sectional qualifiers for the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.  Since the official USGA results page is often slow to be updated--at least judging by recent history--I'm sharing results from today's qualifiers below and on my overview post from last week.

Butler Country Club, Butler, Pa.

[Update (5/14/13, 7:27 pm): From the USGA's page!]

Erica Herr(a) - NEW HOPE, PA.
Rachel Rohanna - WAYNESBURG, PA.
A - Garrett Phillips - ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA.

Druid Hills Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga.

143 Jane Park, Macarena Silva
144 Laura Diaz
145 Austin Ernst, Amelia Lewis
146 Kristy McPherson, Jennifer Rosales, Kris Tamulis
147 Brooke Pancake (1st alternate), Karen Stupples (2nd alternate)

Mount Pleasant Country Club, Boylston, Mass.

148 Becky Morgan
149 Ryann O'Toole (1st alternate)
150 Cindy Schreyer (2nd alternate)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Salonpas Cup Sunday: Hiromi Mogi Wins JLPGA's 1st Major of 2013

To say that Hiromi Mogi was overshadowed by her fellow leaders through the 1st 3 rounds of the Salonpas Cup is to understate the case.  Sure, Mogi had won 5 times in her 1st 10 seasons on the JLPGA, the same number as leader for the 1st 2 rounds Saiki Fujita, but Fujita already numbered a major among her victories.  Mogi was just the kind of steady, dependable player who would finish somewhere between 14th and 26th on the money list, as she did in every season since her 1st.  How can that compare with the sparks generated by the others near the top of the leaderboard?

Money-list leader Miki Saiki was going for her 3rd win in as many starts, while perennial superstar Sakura Yokomine was going for her 2nd in a row.  Rikako Morita was looking to regain the top spot on the JLPGA money list.  And So Yeon Ryu was looking to burnish her reputation as one of the best players in the wide world of women's golf.  Heck, even world #1 Inbee Park's withdrawal late in the second round due to blisters on her right hand was a bigger story than Mogi's hanging around the top of the leaderboard in the JLPGA's 1st major of 2013.

But there's one simple way for golfers to draw the spotlight to themselves:  play better golf than everyone else.  And that's just what Mogi did today, jumping out to the lead with a bogey-free 33, extending it with 2 birdies in her 1st 7 holes of bogey-free golf on the back that got her to double digits under par, and cruising home for a 2-shot victory over Saiki, despite the money-list leader making up 3 shots over the last 2 holes.  Morita, meanwhile, made 3 birdies over her last 7 holes, but it was too little, too late, after having started with 3 bogeys in her 1st 11 holes.  Top amateur Lydia Ko made a charge on the back, as well, firing a bogey-free 32 to jump into T4 with Ji-Woo Lee and Ryu (who doubled the 10th to drop to -5 and parred out the rest of the way).  Big names rounded out the rest of the leaderboard:  Yokomine at -4, Yuri Fudoh, Sun-Ju Ahn, Shanshan Feng, Saiki Fujita at -3, Morgan Pressel at E (T16), Bo-Mee Lee and Ayako Uehara at +1 (T19), Mika Miyazato at +3 (T28), Mi-Jeong Jeon at +4 (T34), and Shiho Oyama at +6 (T39).  But none of them came close to now-6-time-JLPGA-winner Hiromi Mogi.

With her win, Mogi soars from #23 to #4 on the JLPGA money list:

1. Miki Saiki ¥50.78M
2. Rikako Morita ¥45.31M
3. Sakura Yokomine ¥37.91M
4. Hiromi Mogi ¥33.21M
5. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥27.42M
6. Natsuka Hori ¥25.07M
7. Mamiko Higa ¥20.56M
8. Teresa Lu ¥20.02M
9. Yuki Ichinose ¥19.89M
10. Ritsuko Ryu ¥18.53M
11. Na-Ri Kim ¥15.14M
12. Yukari Baba ¥14.86M
13. Miki Sakai ¥14.54M
14. Junko Omote ¥13.39M
15. Erika Kikuchi ¥12.85M
16. Harukyo Nomura ¥11.95M
17. Na-Ri Lee ¥11.75M
18. Soo-Yun Kang ¥11.25M
19. Yuki Sakurai ¥11.20M
20. Yumiko Yoshida ¥10.89M
21. Kaori Ohe ¥10.72M
22. Megumi Kido ¥10.16M
23. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥9.98M
24. Bo-Mee Lee ¥9.92M
25. Ji-Woo Lee ¥9.91M
26. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥9.84M
27. Shiho Oyama ¥9.71M
28. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥9.65M
29. Young Kim ¥9.09M
30. Mayu Hattori ¥8.36M

The JLPGA heads to Fukuoka next week for the Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies (formerly the Fundokin Ladies), in which Inbee Park prevailed over Shanshan Feng.  Park's name still appears on the field list, but I've seen reports she headed to Korea for treatment to her hand, so it's unlikely she'll actually tee it up.  I can't find any other non-JLPGAers with international reputations on the field list, although dual LPGA-JLPGA member Ayako Uehara will be staying on her original home tour for at least one more week.  Let's see if Mogi can keep it rolling along in what is shaping up to be her best season ever, whether Saiki, Morita, and Yokomine can return to the winner's circle, or whether the JLPGA's youth movement or Korean contingent will get it going again!

[Update (12:45 pm):  Here's bangkokbobby's overview!]