Saturday, May 18, 2013

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!

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