Sunday, June 15, 2014

Suntory Ladies Sunday: Don't Call It a Comeback--Sun-Ju Ahn Cruises to Sweet 16th JLPGA Victory

Sun-Ju Ahn has picked up a couple of nicknames during her illustrious career:  Big Mama and Ahn of Green Gables (from when she dyed her hair really red).  But now that she's taken her 16th career victory at the Suntory Ladies (and 3rd of 2014) by firing a 7-birdie 66 to beat Akane Iijima by 5 shots and Momoko Ueda by 6, I think it's about time she picked up some new ones.  How about "Knockout" (in honor of LL Cool J, who provided my title allusion)?  I'm sure my imaginative readership can top me.  After all, we ought to do something in honor of Ahn's sweet 16, right?

On a day when the only round better than Ahn's came from Mi-Jeong Jeon (a bogey-free 65 that vaulted her from the bottom of the pack to the top 25 at E), there was very little drama.  Sure, Ueda eagled the par-5 17th to vault ahead of Kaori Ohe (70, -7, 4th) and the group at T5 that included living legend Yuri Fudoh, 17-time winner Ji-Hee Lee, a resurgent Miki Saiki, and a clearly outgunned Haruka Kudo.  And Shiho Oyama did the same to sneak into the top 10 with Na-Ri Lee and amateur Haruka Morita.  It was certainly nice to see Akiko Fukushima shoot a 69 to catch Ji-Yai Shin among others at +2 (T33).  But basically this Sunday belonged completely to Ahn.

Knockout birdied 3 of her 1st 5 holes to take a commanding lead, but Iijima responded with 3 birdies in a row to close out the front 9 to cut that lead to 2 while Ueda and Ohe lurked 3 back.  But Big Mama's bogey-free 32 on the back was beaten only by Jeon (31) and approached by Oyama and Yuko Mitsuka (33s), which led to the huge margin of victory that made her 2014's 1st 3-time winner in the world of women's golf.

It also brought Ahn of Green Gables back to the top of the JLPGA money list:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥69.05M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥62.27M
3. Misuzu Narita ¥53.76M
4. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥37.84M
5. Ayaka Watanabe ¥36.74M
6. Erina Hara ¥35.62M
7. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M

8. Miki Sakai ¥29.23M
9. Rikako Morita ¥28.06M

10. Esther Lee ¥27.55M
11. Phoebe Yao ¥26.57M
12. Teresa Lu ¥25.34M
13. Ji-Hee Lee ¥24.31M
14. Ritsuko Ryu ¥23.70M
15. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥21.11M
16. Lala Anai ¥20.22M
17. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
18. Mayu Hattori ¥19.57M
19. Ji-Yai Shin ¥17.83M
20. Mamiko Higa ¥17.13M
21. Yukari Baba ¥16.12M
22. Mami Fukuda ¥16.10M
23. Saiki Fujita ¥15.54M
24. Junko Omote ¥15.54M
25. Kaori Ohe ¥14.99M
26. Akane Iijima ¥14.46M
27. Sakura Yokomine ¥14.46M
28. Na-Ri Lee ¥13.97M
29. Asako Fujimoto ¥13.83M
30. Momoko Ueda ¥13.64M
31. Yumiko Yoshida ¥13.38M
32. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.35M
33. Miki Saiki ¥12.45M
34. Shiho Oyama ¥12.15M
35. Haruka Kudo ¥10.23M

With many of the JLPGA's finest competing next week in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst, the Nichirei Ladies field is weaker than usual.  But it's a great opportunity for players like Bo-Mee Lee, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ji-Hee Lee, Ji-Yai Shin, Momoko Ueda, Shiho Oyama, and Miki Saiki to make moves of their own.

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