Sunday, September 22, 2013

Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic Sunday: Sakura Yokomine Wins for 2nd Time This Season, 20th Time in Career

Sakura Yokomine went out in a sizzling bogey-free 31, weathered a pair of bogeys early on the back, and held off a herd of charging challengers by making a pair of birdies and 4 clutch pars down the stretch to win the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic.  Her closing 67 was not the lowest round of the day--that belonged to Yuki Ichinose whose bogey-free 64 was actually the low round of the week--but it was enough to bring her to -15 for the tournament and beat Ji-Hee Lee, Asako Fujimoto, and Da-Ye Na by 2 shots, Rui Kitada, Kaori Aoyama, and Erika Kikuchi by 3, and Ji-Yai Shin, Bo-Mee Lee, and Na-Ri Lee by 4.

Yokomine's 2nd win of 2013 and 20th of her JLPGA career was actually a much closer affair than the victory margin let on.  As she was struggling on the back, her lead chase pack was going off.  Ji-Hee Lee fired a 32 coming home that was highlighted by 3 birdies in her last 4 holes.  Fujimoto had an even better chance to catch Yokomine, thanks to 5 birdies in her 1st 6 holes on the back (including 4 in a row to start it) that brought her to -14, but she finished par-par-bogey.  Others who threw 32s at Yokomine included Ichinose and Aoyama, but they were too far behind her to put much pressure on her, as were those who closed with 33s like Na, Kitada, and Shin.

Same goes for big names who finished respectably, but were never factors on Sunday:  money-list leader Rikako Morita (69, -9, T12), former repeat money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn (69, -7, T19), and LPGA visitors Shanshan Feng (70, -7, T19) and Mika Miyazato (68, -5, T26).  They all can take a lot of positives from this week, but no trophy.

That belongs to Yokomine, whose 2nd win at this event also marks her 1st 2-win season on the JLPGA since 2010, when she finished 2nd to Ahn on the money list the year after she won it for the 1st and only time thus far in her career.  The #2 spot on the 2013 money list is now hers.  Will this win propel her even further this year?

1. Rikako Morita ¥92.57M
2. Sakura Yokomine ¥70.96M
3. Yumiko Yoshida ¥68.54M
4. Miki Saiki ¥63.74M
5. Natsuka Hori ¥61.52M
6. Mamiko Higa ¥60.62M
7. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥58.55M
8. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥57.67M
9. Bo-Mee Lee ¥50.97M
10. Ritsuko Ryu ¥48.08M
11. Teresa Lu ¥43.37M
12. Yuki Ichinose ¥43.24M
13. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥40.87M
14. Da-Ye Na ¥39.45M
15. Misuzu Narita ¥37.42M
16. Junko Omote ¥37.04M
17. Hiromi Mogi ¥36.88M
18. Kumiko Kaneda ¥36.85M
19. Asako Fujimoto ¥33.53M
20. Yukari Baba ¥32.75M
21. Na-Ri Lee ¥29.84M
22. Na-Ri Kim ¥28.84M
23. Yuri Fudoh ¥28.69M
24. Esther Lee ¥28.28M
25. Erika Kikuchi ¥27.98M
26. Ji-Hee Lee ¥27.94M
27. Rui Kitada ¥27.44M
28. Shiho Oyama ¥26.81M
29. Mayu Hattori ¥26.72M
30. Miki Sakai ¥26.63M
31. Erina Hara ¥25.77M
32. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥25.51M
33. Megumi Kido ¥23.55M
34. Kaori Ohe ¥22.72M
35. Soo-Yun Kang ¥23.38M
36. Young Kim ¥22.36M
37. Kaori Nakamura ¥20.34M
38. Lala Anai ¥17.78M
39. Yuko Fukuda ¥17.64M
40. Harukyo Nomura ¥17.27M
41. Eun-Bi Jang ¥17.25M
42. Kaori Aoyama ¥17.19M
43. Akane Iijima ¥17.15M
44. Yuki Sakurai ¥16.87M
45. Yun-Jye Wei ¥16.70M
46. Phoebe Yao ¥16.61M
47. Ji-Woo Lee ¥13.57M
48. Saiki Fujita ¥12.96M
49. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥12.56M
50. Ayako Uehara ¥12.25M

The money list is starting to look a lot more familiar to long-time JLPGA fans, with established Japanese stars (Yokomine, Saiki) and Korean stars (Jeon, Ahn, Bo-Mee Lee) starting to put some real pressure on the tour's Japanese young guns (Morita, Yoshida, Hori, Higa, Ryu, Ichinose).

Next up on the JLPGA is the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open, which features the visiting Ai Miyazato, Chie Arimura, Ayako Uehara, and Momoko Ueda alongside most of the usual suspects among the JLPGA's finest (but not the top Koreans).  It's the final tune-up before the Japan Women's Open, so it'll be interesting to see if Yokomine can make it 2 wins in a row in a field that includes all her top Japanese rivals.

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