Fredonia’s Got Talent!

Apologies to my regular readers for taking this mini-sabbatical from Mostly Harmless!  Probably the main reason I’ve been too busy to blog has been all the extra time I’ve been putting into meeting with my students this past month to consult with them on their critical essays and final research projects.  Although most of them chose not to do web authoring projects, a good number did; here are links to their work:

Please check ’em out while you’re waiting for me to finish grading!
[cross-posted at sf@SF and Citizen of Somewhere Else]

ElleAir Ladies Open Sunday: Sakura Yokomine Wins for 1st Time in 2014, Becoming 2nd Golfer in JLPGA History to Break the Billion-Yen Barrier in Career Winnings

Sakura Yokomine’s 23rd career victory on the JLPGA may be one of her sweetest.  Not only was her win at the ElleAir Ladies Open her 1st of 2014, it may well be her last as a JLPGA member–at least for awhile–as she’s one of the favorites at LPGA Q-School’s final stage in early December.  Of course, she can go on to win the final event of the JLPGA season, the Ricoh Cup, next week.  But let’s stay in the present for now!

Yokomine entered the final round 2 shots behind 20-year-old sensation Ai Suzuki, who bounced back from a bogey on the 197-yard par-3 3rd with birdies on the 4th and 6th holes, both short par 4s.  At that point, Suzuki was -17 and led her playing partner, 23-year-old Miki Sakai, by 2 shots; Yokomine, the last member of the final threesome, was one more shot behind.   But around the time that Sakai birdied the 148-yard par-3 7th to pull within one shot of Suzuki, some players from a few groups ahead of them entered the fray.  Rikako Morita, last year’s money-list title-holder, was the 1st to catch Yokomine at -14, as she opened with a bogey-free 33.  Yokomine responded with back-to-back birdies to close out the front 9 and tie Sakai for 2nd at -16, but Morita had already moved to -15 with her 2nd birdie in a row, this one on the long par-4 10th.

But it was a burst by Teresa Lu, which began with an eagle on the short par-5 9th and continued with birdies on the short par-5 11th and the long par-3 13th, that made the final threesome pay attention to what was going on 3 groups ahead of them.  Combined with a pair of early birdies (and her lone bogey of the day on the long par-4 8th), Lu moved from -10 to -15 in the space of 13 holes.  And when Suzuki bogeyed the long par-4 12th to fall back to -16, in a tie for the lead with Sakai and Yokomine, Lu had gone from 6 down to 1 down.  Which was exactly where her playing partner Erina Hara got to when she made her 6th birdie of the day (against only 1 bogey) on the 338-yard par-4 14th, her 3rd in her previous 4 holes.

So with a few holes to play there were 6 golfers who could win this thing.  Lu was the 1st to strike, sprinting past Hara with back-to-back birdies to close out her round and become the leader in the clubhouse at -17.  (Both players dashed the hopes of Na-Ri Lee, who had birdied 7 of her 1st 13 holes to fly to -15 very early in the day, but fallen to earth with a double bogey on 12 and finished at -14.)  Right behind them, Morita followed suit with birdies on the 273-yard par-4 16th and 535-yard par-5 18th to join Lu atop the leaderboard.  And when Yokomine and Sakai both responded with birdies on the 385-yard par-4 15th–Yokomine by making a 30-footer–we had 4 players tied for the lead at -17, 1 shot ahead of Suzuki.

The tiny 16th hole proved to be the difference-maker, as Yokomine birdied it, Sakai doubled it, and Suzuki parred it.  When Yokomine parred out and Sakai finished bogey-birdie to tie Hara at -15, that meant that Suzuki needed to birdie out to force a playoff.  In the end, her walkoff birdie secured her a tie for 2nd place with Lu and Morita.  Yokomine’s bogey-free 68 proved just good enough to beat Lu’s 65, Morita’s 66, and Suzuki’s 71.

What’s more, Yokomine’s victory pushed her past the billion-yen mark in career winnings.  Yokomine joins Yuri Fudoh as the only 2 golfers in JLPGA history to accomplish that amazing feat.  Speaking of amazing feats, Sun-Ju Ahn’s top-10 finish was enough to secure her 3rd money-list title on the JLPGA.  This one was the hardest for her, as she played through severe pain in her right wrist since the last week of October to hold off Bo-Mee Lee and Ji-Yai Shin.

So congratulations to Yokomine and Ahn.  Here’s how the JLPGA money list looks heading into the Ricoh Cup:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥152.56M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥118.58M
3. Ji-Yai Shin ¥100.44M
4. Teresa Lu ¥98.17M
5. Misuzu Narita ¥95.23M
6. Miki Sakai ¥91.90M
7. Shiho Oyama ¥79.29M
8. Na-Ri Lee ¥77.45M
9. Erina Hara ¥74.96M
10. Momoko Ueda ¥70.60M
11. Ayaka Watanabe ¥65.72M
12. Ai Suzuki ¥59.97M
13. Esther Lee ¥59.01M
14. Sakura Yokomine ¥57.89M
15. Rikako Morita ¥55.18M
16. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥54.80M
17. Lala Anai ¥51.29M
18. Ritsuko Ryu ¥47.75M
19. Yumiko Yoshida ¥46.68M
20. Ji-Hee Lee ¥43.08M
21. Kotono Kozuma ¥41.80M
22. Junko Omote ¥40.51M
23. Erika Kikuchi ¥40.27M
24. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥39.72M
25. Saiki Fujita ¥38.94M
26. Mami Fukuda ¥37.06M
27. Kaori Ohe ¥35.78M
28. Asako Fujimoto ¥32.45M
29. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M
30. Phoebe Yao ¥31.35M
31. Mayu Hattori ¥30.32M

32. Soo-Yun Kang ¥29.53M
33. Rui Kitada ¥29.39M
34. Yoko Maeda ¥29.21M
35. Yeon-Ju Jung ¥28.43M
36. Na-Ri Kim ¥28.21M
37. Megumi Kido ¥27.89M
38. Hikari Fujita ¥27.14M
39. Yukari Baba ¥26.44M
40. Rumi Yoshiba ¥25.74M
41. Akane Iijima ¥23.32M
42. Da-Ye Na ¥23.06M
43. Yukari Nishiyama ¥23.03M
44. Natsuka Hori ¥22.60M
45. Mamiko Higa ¥22.44M
46. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
47. Megumi Shimokawa ¥19.74M
48. Miki Saiki ¥18.67M
49. Eun-Bi Jang ¥18.14M
50. Ji-Woo Lee ¥17.61M

Next week’s event, the Ricoh Cup, is the last major of the JLPGA season, in addition to being its season-ending tournament.  It features this year’s winners, anyone in the the top 25 on the tour money list without a win, anyone in the top 25 of the Rolex Rankings who hasn’t otherwise qualified and wants to participate, and any Japanese player with a win on the LPGA.  That means that teenager Minami Katsu and world #1 Inbee Park will be competing against the JLPGA’s finest!

ElleAir Ladies Open Set-Up: Ai Suzuki’s 64 Lifts Her to Top of Dozen Players Double Digits Under Par

Ai Suzuki followed up yesterday’s 9-birdie 65 with a bogey-free 64 today to climb to the top of the heap at the ElleAir Ladies Open.  At -16, the 20-year-old major champion holds a 2-shot lead on LPGA Q-School-bound Sakura Yokomine (65), a 3-shot lead on Miki Sakai (66) and money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn (68), a 4-shot lead on Shiho Oyama (68) and Rui Kitada (71), and a 5-shot lead on Rikako Morita (66), Yumiko Yoshida (68), and 1st-round leader Momoko Ueda (70).  Esther Lee (66), Teresa Lu (68), and Erina Hara (69) round out the list of 12 golfers already double digits under par, while Bo-Mee Lee (66, -9), Ayaka Watanabe (66, -8), and Yuko Fukuda (66, -7) also made big moves up the leaderboard.

The only players not in tomorrow’s final round who you might have expected to be in the mix on Sunday are Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higa, who missed the cut by a shot, Yuri Fudoh, who missed it by 3 shots, and Ji-Yai Shin, who didn’t tee it up this week.  Otherwise, we have a big showdown brewing between the vast majority of players near the top of the JLPGA money list.  Should be a great final round!

My Picks for the CME Group Tour Championship

Around the World of Women’s Golf in 10 Easy Links

Between being figuratively snowed in at work and literally snowed in at home in Hamburg (where I’ve spent something like 12 of the last 48 hours shoveling), I’ve taken an unexpected sabbatical from Mostly Harmless, but I’m back!  Let’s catch up on what I’ve missed!

Christina Kim Prevails Over Shanshan Feng in Playoff at Lorena’s Place.  I’ve gotta be honest, I erased the 1st 3 rounds on my DVR after watching the intros and still have the last 6 holes of so of the final round to watch, but I’ll be sure to do so now that I finally gave in and saw that Kim won in a playoff over Feng!

Yoko Maeda Beats Satsuki Oshiro in Playoff for Early 30th Birthday Gift.  Maeda hasn’t even been on the JLPGA often enough to be called a journeywoman, but she bounced back from a walkoff bogey at the Ito-En Ladies that opened the door for Oshiro, who was also looking for her 1st-ever victory on tour, by closing it on the 1st playoff hole with a par.  Momoko Ueda finished 1 shot out of the playoff, which moved her into the top 10 on the money list.  Sun-Ju Ahn continues to maintain a near insurmountable lead on Bo-Mee Lee (not to mention Ji-Yai Shin, Misuzu Narita, Teresa Lu, and Miki Sakai, who all have either cracked the 100 million yen barrier this season or have a hope of doing it).

In Gee Chun Wins for 3rd Time on KLPGA in 2014.  Chun’s win came in dramatic fashion over the final 9 holes, but it was almost overshadowed by Kyu Jung Baek narrowly winning the Rookie of the Year race over Min Sun Kim and Jin Young Ko.  Also, Ha Neul Kim announced that she’ll be playing in the final stage of JLPGA Q-School (she finished T1 at one of the previous stage’s sites on 11/7).  Her last round in the last KLPGA event of 2014 may turn out to be her last start as a KLPGA member.

Xi Yu Lin Wins in Homeland on LET.  Congratulations to LPGA rookie Xi Yu Lin, who beat Charley Hull by 5 shots for her 1st-ever win on the LET!  Lin made her professional debut at the very same event in 2011, finishing 5th, so it’s fitting her 1st victory off the CLPGA came here, as well.

Sakura Yokomine, Ha Na Jang, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull, Stephanie Meadow, Minjee Lee, Ariya Jutanugarn, Su Hyun Oh Highlight LPGA Q-School’s Final Stage.  But check the field list:  there are a lot of current, former, and maybe future LPGAers on it!  Names like Lorie Kane, Birdie Kim, Chie Arimura, Vicky Hurst, Cheyenne Woods, Ju Young Park (Hee Young’s little sis), Alison Lee, Annie Park, Simin Feng, Ani Gulugian, Ginger Howard, and Madison Pressel are just a few that’ll stick out to die-hard fans of women’s golf.  It all starts the 1st week of December!

The LPGA’s Last Event of 2014 and the JLPGA’s Next-to-Last Are on Tap This Week.  Check out the pre-tournament notes and interviews for the CME Group Tour Championship (where season-ending race leader Stacy Lewis, world #1 Inbee Park, and 2014 Rookie of the Year Lydia Ko have the best shot at winning the $1M Race to the CME Globe) and live scoring for the ElleAire Ladies Open (where Momoko Ueda has jumped out to an early lead).

So buckle your seat belts, everyone!  (That’s something I’ve practically forgotten how to do, as The Constructivist Family has been housebound the last 2 days and we have no idea when the state of emergency or travel ban will be lifted!)  2014 is going out with a bang!

My Picks for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational

There are only 2 tournaments left on the LPGA schedule and both have even more limited fields than the just-completed Asian Swing.  The Lorena Ochoa Invitational is the most exclusive of all and it has big implications for the $1M Race for the CME Globe, which ends with a bang in the year’s final event next week.  So who will be the best of the best this week?  Here are my picks!

1. Park Inbee
2. Ryu
3. Wie
4. Feng
5. Lewis
6. Ko
7. Pettersen
8. Creamer
9. Kerr
10. Munoz
11. Nordqvist
12. Stanford

Alts:  Thompson, Phatlum, Pressel

Tony Jesselli has completely outclassed me down the home stretch and is now in 2nd place in the season-long PakPicker competition.  Good luck to Tony, GDSmyth, Elf, and Ghinhee in the last 2 events of the year!

Mizuno Classic Weekend: Mi Hyang Lee Prevails in Classic Barnburner

21-year-old Mi Hyang Lee won the 2nd tournament of 2014 among major women’s professional tours by firing a final-round 63 in New Zealand and blowing past Lydia Ko, among others.  And she’s just won the Mizuno Classic, the 2nd of November–and her 1st on the LPGA–by blowing past 51-year-old Laura Davies, among others, catching Ilhee Lee and Kotomo Kozuma at -11, and beating them with a birdie on the 5th playoff hole.  With 9 players finishing at -10 and 5 at -9, it’s amazing that Lee could prevail, but somebody had to do it.  Here’s how it happened.

Lee had sprung into contention with a 2nd-round 67, but it wasn’t nearly the best round on moving day.  The JLPGA’s young star Ai Suzuki birdied her last 4 holes in a row (and 5 of her last 6) for a 64 that got her a share of the lead with Davies (67) and Ilhee Lee (66) at -9.  Na-Ri Lee birdied 6 of her last 11 holes to post a 65 that got her into solo 7th, 2 shots off the lead and 1 behind Mi Hyang Lee, Kozuma (67), and Chella Choi (68).  With Jessica KordaMisuzu Narita, and Teresa Lu firing 67s of their own to move to -6, -5, and -4, respectively, and with big names Karrie Webb (68), Sakura Yokomine (69), and Bo-Mee Lee (69) lurking, Sunday dawned with 21 players within 5 shots of the lead.  The only disappointment was that the 2 biggest names in the field, LPGA money-list leader Stacy Lewis and JLPGA money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn, were not in that group.

Even without them in the hunt, what a Sunday it turned out to be!  Hall of Famer and 2006 champion Webb kicked off the festivities with a bogey-free 31 on the front from the 3rd-to-last group to move to -11 at the turn.  Playing in the next-to-last group, Choi and Mi Hyang Lee birdied 4 of her 1st 7 holes and 3 of her 1st 7, respectively, to join her.  Meanwhile Korda, sandwiched between those 2 groups, got it to -10 with a birdie-free 32 on the front.  But all of them were chasing Choi’s and Lee’s playing partner Kozuma, who birdied 4 holes in a row after parring the 1st and got it to -13 with a birdie on the par-5 7th.  As the 2nd-round co-leaders stumbled out of the gates–Suzuki bogeyed her 1st 2 holes and scrambled her way to a 37 that left her at -8, Davies offset her 2 birdies with 2 bogeys to stay at -9, and Ilhee Lee made 11-straight pars dating back to the end of moving day before making her lone birdie on the front that got her to -10–Kozuma suddenly gave everyone hope with bogeys on 9 and 11 that dropped her back to -11.

Even as the 22-year-old looking for her 1st JLPGA victory looked like she was starting to fumble it, other players entered the fray.  LPGA newbie Ayako Uehara, a 3-time winner on the JLPGA who was a fixture in the top 26 of their money list from 2006 to 2012, ended her 8-hole par train that closed out yesterday’s round with a birdie on her 1st hole today and followed it up with 4 more in her next 12 holes of bogey-free golf to climb to -11 and into a tie for the lead with her playing partner Korda (who birdied the 12th to get there), Choi (who would follow up her birdie barrage on the 1st 7 holes with a par train over her next 7), Kozuma, and Ilhee Lee (who birdied the 7th and 11th to get there and had gone without a bogey for 33 holes and counting at that point).  But what of Webb, Davies, and the eventual winner?  Well, Webb went bogey-birdie-bogey to fall back to -10 with only 4 holes left to play, Mi Hyang Lee had bogeyed the 10th to join her there but fought back into a tie for the lead with a birdie on the 14th, and Davies birdied the par-5 13th to get to -10.

A bunch of late charges complicated matters yet further.  1st-round leader Morgan Pressel, who had stalled Saturday after an opening 67 due to an unexpectedly balky putter, followed up her bogey-free 33 on the front today with 3 birdies in her last 6 holes, including 2 in her last 3, to post her 2nd 67 of the week and become the leader in the clubhouse at -10.  She was joined a few minutes later by playing partners Sakura Yokomine and Saiki Fujita.  Yokomine had birdied 2 of her 1st 3 holes but stalled midway through her round, yet finished strong with 4 birdies in her last 8 holes, including 3 of her last 6.  Fujita, meanwhile, followed up her 4 birdies in her 1st 6 holes with a lone eagle on the 13th in a sea of pars.  Their final playing partner, Harukyo Nomura, had a great chance to become the 4th co-leader in the clubhouse, but despite making 5 birdies between the 7th and 15th holes, could not make another on the 540-yard par-5 16th, 180-yard par-3 17th, or 405-yard par-4 18th.

So the big question as the leaders entered the home stretch was who would join Pressel, Yokomine, and Fujita at -10–and who would surpass them?

The 1st to try was Webb.  She made a heroic birdie on 17 to get to -11, but had to settle for becoming the 4th co-leader in the clubhouse when she suffered a walkoff bogey.

Next up were Korda, Uehara, and Na-Ri Lee.  Korda had fallen back to -10 with a bogey on the par-4 14th and couldn’t make a birdie coming home.  Lee did birdie 2 of her last 4 holes, but it was too little, too late.  So all Uehara needed to do to pass the 6 co-leaders was to stay at -11.  She did it with pars on 14, 15, 16, and 17, but she couldn’t do it on 18.  Now there were 7 players at -10 and only 6 left on the course.  Would anyone break the logjam?

The next threesome featured up-and-coming golfers looking for their 1st win ever (Choi and Kozuma) or 1st win on the LPGA (Mi Hyang Lee).  Kozuma had righted the ship after her mid-round stumbles and had made 6-straight pars as she headed into the 18th at -11.  Lee had followed up her birdie on 14 with 3-straight pars to keep pace with the JLPGA’s last hope for a homegrown winner.  But Choi had bogeyed the par-4 15th and needed a birdie on 18 or walkoff bogeys by her playing partners to have a hope of winning.  In the end, all 3 parred out, making it 8 golfers at -10–and 2 at -11.

Would anyone in the final group be able to beat Lee and Kozuma?  Davies couldn’t do it, as she finished with 5-straight pars to become the 9th player to end the week at -10.  After her rough start, Suzuki had fought back to -9 with 2 holes to play, but parred out.  Ilhee Lee got it to -12 with a birdie on the long par-5 16th, but she ended her 38-hole bogey-free run with a bogey on 17.  Could she birdie 18 for the win?  Would she join Webb and Uehara in the walkoff bogey club?  Nope, she parred it to join the playoff with Kozuma and Mi Hyang Lee.

And what a playoff it was!  They played the tough 18th over and over…and over.  All pars the 1st go-round…and the 2nd.  All birdies the 3rd.  All pars the 4th.  Finally Mi Hyang Lee prevailed with her 2nd birdie of the playoff on the 5th go-round!

If you had told me at the start of the week that Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi, and Sun-Ju Ahn would finish outside the top 30 and Bo-Mee Lee, Ji-Yai Shin, Misuza Narita, Teresa Lu, and Mirim Lee would struggle to make the top 20, I would have told you that anyone could walk away with the victory (and that I’d be in contention for the wooden spoon, the cellar-dweller’s prize in SeoulSisters.com’s PakPicker, this week!).  In the midst of Morgan Pressel, Chella Choi, and Na-Ri Lee putting on a ball-striking exhibition, Ai Suzuki and Ayako Uehara putting on a putting exhibition, and Laura Davies and Karrie Webb showing the kids a thing or two, Mi Hyang Lee, Ilhee Lee, and Kotono Kozuma showed us all that you don’t need to have a big name or a huge resume to create a lot of drama.  Mi Hyang Lee’s 2nd win of 2014 will move her up my ranking of the top 22 under 22 on major women’s professional tours.  Congratulations to Lee and condolences to everyone she surpassed!

[Update 1 (5:39 am):  Sunday was a day of playoffs, as Min Sun Kim broke through for her 1st career KLPGA victory and Lee-Anne Pace made it 3 Ws in her last 3 starts!]

Mizuno Classic Friday: Morgan Pressel Leads Laura Davies and Chella Choi by 1

My Picks for the Mizuno Classic

I want to thank Tony Jesselli for cross-posting his Mizuno Classic preview from his own blog here at his old stomping grounds yesterday.  The field may be weak by LPGA standards, as he points out, but it’s a great opportunity for some of the top JLPGA players to make a case that they deserve to be considered among the best in the world this season.  Here are my picks for the next-to-next-to-last PakPicker competition of 2014!

1. Lewis, Stacy
2. Choi Na Yeon
3. Shin Ji-Yai
4. Ahn
5. Ueda
6. Lu
7. Choi Chella
8. Lee Bo-Mee
9. Lee Mirim
10. Oyama
11. Webb
12. Narita

Alts: Uehara; Nomura; Yokomine

Here’s Centurion’s preview, too!  So who do you see making Stacy work this week?

Recommended Reading: On Inbee Park’s 3rd LPGA Victory of 2014

So once again I was unable to watch any LPGA that I DVRed this past week, due to work responsibilities reaching a white-hot pitch, imoto’s interest in catching up on past seasons of Once Upon a Time, and my own interest in seeing Primus play live for what may well turn out to be the only time in my life.

As a result, I’m going to recommend some other people’s writing on Inbee Park’s victory at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship by 2 shots over Stacy Lewis:  Centurion‘s post over at LLLLet’s Golf!,  LPGA.com‘s notes and interviews, the AP‘s game story, Ladies on Tour‘s summary, Elizabeth Bethel‘s post over at ProGolfNow/Fansided, and Rick Woelfel‘s post over at Women’s Golf Center….

Enjoy!

Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies Sunday: Momoko Ueda Chases Down Junko Omote for 2nd Win of 2014, 11th of Her JLPGA Career

Momoko Ueda chased down Junko Omote over the home stretch of the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies today, making up 4 shots in the last 7 holes and 3 in the last 4, to take her 2nd JLPGA title of 2014.

Ji-Hee Lee, the 1st- and 2nd-round leader who was going for her 18th career JLPGA victory, went from a bad back 9 yesterday to a worse front today and plunged down the leaderboard, even as  Omote, who’s collected 3 wins in a 17-year career on tour, fired a bogey-free 32 to move to -11 and take a 3-shot lead on Ueda, a 4-shot lead on Erina Hara, and a 5-shot lead on Mika Miyazato and Yumiko Yoshida.  Even as Megumi Kido made a move on the back to get herself into contention, Miyazato birdied the 421-yard par-4 11th, and Yoshida, Hara, and Ueda birdied the 503-yard par-5 12th, Omote hung tough with a string of pars on the front.  But it all came apart for her as she made back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, 2 of the longest par 4s on Morinaga Takataki Country Club in Chiba.  At that point, she was tied with Ueda at -9, 1 shot ahead of Hara and Yoshida, and 2 shots ahead of Miyazato and Kido.  With the latter 4 safe in the clubhouse, it came down to Ueda and Omote to decide the title.  When they both parred the long par-3 17th, whoever could birdie the 529-yard par-5 18th would win the tournament.  And that player was Momoko Ueda.

Ueda’s 11th career LPGA victory moved her to 10th on the 2014 JLPGA money list.  Even though the money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn and #4 Misuzu Narita sat this one out and Bo-Mee Lee, Ji-Yai Shin, Teresa Lu, and Miki Sakai had fairly disappointing weeks, there’s still a pretty big gap between the tour’s top 6 and the rest of its top players.

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥148.41M
2. Bo-Mee Lee ¥114.07M
3. Ji-Yai Shin ¥98.95M
4. Misuzu Narita ¥91.57M
5. Teresa Lu ¥88.92M
6. Miki Sakai ¥85.48M
7. Shiho Oyama ¥75.45M
8. Na-Ri Lee ¥70.40M
9. Erina Hara ¥65.83M
10. Momoko Ueda ¥61.95M
11. Ayaka Watanabe ¥59.57M
12. Esther Lee ¥56.93M
13. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥54.05M
14. Lala Anai ¥49.83M
15. Rikako Morita ¥47.15M
16. Ai Suzuki ¥46.72M
17. Ritsuko Ryu ¥45.64M
18. Ji-Hee Lee ¥42.41M
19. Yumiko Yoshida ¥42.29M
20. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥38.32M
21. Erika Kikuchi ¥37.59M
22. Junko Omote ¥36.02M
23. Sakura Yokomine ¥35.11M
24. Saiki Fujita ¥35.04M
25. Kaori Ohe ¥34.77M
26. Mami Fukuda ¥32.16M
27. Yuki Ichinose ¥31.61M
28. Kotono Kozuma ¥31.09M
29. Phoebe Yao ¥31.01M
30. Mayu Hattori ¥30.07M

31. Asako Fujimoto ¥28.08M
32. Megumi Kido ¥26.77M
33. Hikari Fujita ¥26.71M
34. Na-Ri Kim ¥26.20M
35. Yeon-Ju Jung ¥26.18M
36. Yukari Baba ¥25.72M
37. Soo-Yun Kang ¥24.16M
38. Rumi Yoshiba ¥23.92M
39. Natsuka Hori ¥22.60M
40. Akane Iijima ¥22.20M
41. Yukari Nishiyama ¥21.90M
42. Mamiko Higa ¥21.71M
43. Da-Ye Na ¥21.66M
44. Rui Kitada ¥21.22M
45. Shanshan Feng ¥20.04M
46. Miki Saiki ¥18.67M
47. Megumi Shimokawa ¥17.82M
48. Ah-Reum Hwang ¥17.54M
49. Eun-Bi Jang ¥17.47M
50. Yuri Fudoh ¥16.45M

Next up on the JLPGA is Mizuno Classic, which is of course co-sponsored by the LPGA and was won by Teresa Lu last year.  It’s fun to see how Mizuno introduces the LPGAers in the field and compare it to how the LPGA introduces the JLPGAers.  But since I’m avoiding LPGA.com until I watch the coverage from Taiwan, I’ll hold off on making that comparison for now!

Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship Saturday: Stacy Lewis’s 64 a "Not So Fast, Inbee!" to World #1

Stacy Lewis fired a bogey-free 64 on moving day at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship to catch Shanshan Feng at -17, 4 shots behind leader Inbee Park, who made 3 bogeys today but offset them with an eagle and 4 birdies.  There are 7 other players double digits under par already, but only of them only Azahara Munoz has 3 rounds in the 60s, and she starts tomorrow’s round 8 shots behind the newlywed and world #1.

It’s probably too soon to say it’s a 3-player race, but after about 6 holes tomorrow, we’ll have a much better sense of how this will shake out.  There weren’t as many big numbers today as in previous rounds, but some really good golfers had some awful fronts (Michelle Wie) and backs (Lydia Ko).  Mirim Lee, for instance, would be much closer to the top of the leaderboard if she hadn’t closed out the front with 3 straight bogeys and made a bogey and a double in her last 4 holes.

Safe to say, though, that if Park, Lewis, and Feng can get off to good starts tomorrow, it’ll be almost impossible for anyone else to insert themselves into their shootout.  Go to bed early tonight and take advantage of “falling back” so you can get up early and watch the finale.  That’s my plan, at least!

Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies Saturday: Ji-Hee Lee Maintains Slim Lead, But Opens Door to Field

Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies Friday: Ji-Hee Lee’s 66 Gives Her 2-Shot Lead on Momoko Ueda

Ji-Hee Lee fired a 7-birdie 66 to take a 2-shot lead on Momoko Ueda and Mihoko Iseri into the 2nd round of the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Ladies.  Mi-Jeong Jeon and Esther Lee are only 3 back, Ji-Yai Shin, Yumiko Yoshida, Ai Suzuki, and Natsuka Hori are 4 behind, and Bo-Mee Lee, Miki Saiki, and the visiting Mika Miyazato are 5 off the pace.  Shin and Erika Kikuchi both got holes-in-1 on the 152-yard par-3 8th, while Kaori Makitani eagled the 487-yard par-5 6th.  With money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn and last week’s winner Shiho Oyama sitting this one out, it’s a great opportunity for for Shin and Lee to make up some ground.  Let’s see if they can make a move tomorrow!

Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship Friday: Inbee Park and Mirim Lee Fire 62s; Park Leads Shanshan Feng by 3

World #1 Inbee Park followed up yesterday’s 64 at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship with a 62 to get to -18 and take a 3-shot lead on Shanshan Feng.  Park’s ten-under-par round included a bogey on the par-4 4th and an eagle on the par-4 8th, along with 9 birdies, while Feng’s 65 was marred only by back-to-back bogeys early on the back 9.

Even as Park and Feng battle it out for world domination, the Rookie of the Year race is heating up.  Mirim Lee fired a bogey-free 62 of her own today to catch Lydia Ko (65) and Line Vedel (68) at -10.  Despite birdieing 6 holes in a row on the front and 7 of her 1st 10, ROY race leader Ko offset her last birdie of the day on the par-3 14th with a bogey on the par-4 15th.  As Lee racked up 5 birdies on each side, Vedel had an up-and-down front, with 2 bogeys and 2 birdies, but turned it on during the back with 5 birdies (and a lone bogey) in her last 8 holes.  If either Lee or Vedel are going to put any pressure on Ko down the home stretch, they’re going to need to outdistance her over the weekend and challenge Park and Feng for the title.

That’s a tall order, especially when you consider that Azahara Munoz joins them at -10, recent world #1 and leader in every significant year-long LPGA race Stacy Lewis is at -9, 2-time champion Suzann Pettersen is at -7, and there are a bunch of golfers at -8 playing well enough to win this thing, including So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, and Chella Choi.

Given how many big numbers have been posted already this week–Lewis doubled the par-4 9th, Michelle Wie made her 2nd triple of the week, this time on the par-4 4th (she’s well back at -6), Brittany Lang tripled the par-5 12th (she’s -7)–it’s too soon to think that the lead chase pack near -10 can’t chase down Park and Feng.  But it’s likely that somebody in that pack will need to put together a course record on Saturday or Sunday to really put some pressure on them.

[Update 1 (8:10 am):  Congrats to Danielle Kang for winning her 2nd car in as many weeks with her 2nd hole in 1!!!]

Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship Thursday: Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng Open with 64s

Coming off a 2nd-place finish to Hyo Joo Kim at a KLPGA major last week, new world #1 Inbee Park matched Shanshan Feng’s bogey-free 64 at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship today.  Park and Feng were able to do what So Yeon Ryu, Michelle Wie, and Na Yeon Choi were unable to.  Where Ryu got to -9 but finished bogey-double bogey, Wie took a triple on the par-4 15th and had to recover for a 68, and Choi had to scramble for a 68 of her own after doubling the par-4 11th, the 2 co-leaders played spectacular and steady golf throughout the day, with each putting on a burst of her own.  For Park, it was 5 birdies in her last 7 holes, while for Feng it was 5 birdies in her last 10 holes.

There were eagles galore today, as well.  Feng, Line Vedel (66), and In-Kyung Kim (67) eagled the par-5 6th, Ryu the par-4 11th, and Harukyo Nomura (66) and Stacy Lewis (67) the par-5 2nd.  So no worries for Lydia Ko (69), Suzann Pettersen (70), or my fave Ai Miyazato (who fought back from a horrific start for a 73).  Looks like it’s going to be all about getting on a roll and keeping on a roll this week!

My Picks for the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship

Between going to Clinton for my dad’s retirement conference/roast this past weekend and trying to catch up at work, I haven’t been able to write about Lee-Anne Pace’s and Shiho Oyama’s victories.  But the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship is already upon us, so it’s time for me to make my picks!

1. Park Inbee
2. Ryu
3. Choi Na Yeon
4. Feng
5. Pettersen
6. Lewis, Stacy
7. Ko
8. Choi Chella
9. Wie
10. Masson
11. Phatlum
12. Lincicome

Alts: Nordqvist, Lang, Park Hee Young

Blue Bay LPGA Saturday: Lee-Anne Pace Catches Jessica Korda at -11

Lee-Anne Pace won an LET event last week in her home country and her 7-birdie 66 on moving day at the Blue Bay LPGA has given her a great shot at making it 2 in a row halfway around the world.  To do it, she’s going to have to get through Jessica Korda, who bounced back from an opening double bogey with 7 birdies of her own the rest of the way today to join the South African at -11.

But don’t think for an instant Pace and Korda will be in some kind of match-play situation tomorrow on Hainan Island.  Chella Choi has been knocking on the door for years now and fired a bogey-free 66 of her own to move to -10.  Shanshan Feng, Michelle Wie, and Brittany Lang are only 2 behind the co-leaders.  2-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Danielle Kang and near-Rookie of the Year last season Caroline Masson are only 3 down.  Toss in Austin Ernst and Wanyao Lu (Haruka Morita when she competes on the JLPGA) at -7 and Beatriz Recari at -6 and you have some really good golfers ready to pounce if the co-leaders ease up on the accelerator or spin out on a curve tomorrow!

Going by their stats in the 1st 2 rounds, not to mention their recent victories, I’d say this is going to come down to Pace vs. Feng.  But given how few of my picks for the week are actually in contention, you should probably ignore that prediction!

Nobuta Group Masters GC Ladies Saturday: Shiho Oyama Extends Lead to 3 on All-Star Lead Chase Pack

Shiho Oyama faltered a little midway through her moving-day round at the Nobuta Group Masters GC Ladies, but bounced back with 4 birdies in her last 11 holes of bogey-free golf to move to -15 through 54 holes–enough to hold onto a 3-shot lead on the charging Yumiko Yoshida and Teresa Lu (who fired a bogey-free 66 and a bogey-free 67, respectively) and open up a 4-shot lead on JLPGA money-list leader Sun-Ju Ahn and 21-year-old Ayaka Watanabe.  With Momoko Ueda at -10, Ai Suzuki at -9, Paula Creamer at -8, and Bo-Mee Lee at -6, Oyama has a great chance to eliminate most of her competition if she can make it 4 rounds in the 60s this week.  But Watanabe’s 63 and Yukari Nishiyama’s 65 yesterday have to give everyone in the field within 10 shots of the lead (and that includes last year’s money-list title-holder Rikako Morita and living legend Yuri Fudoh) just the slightest glimmer of hope.  Should be a great finish tomorrow!

Checking in on the LPGA and JLPGA: Jessica Korda, Michelle Wie, Shanshan Feng, Shiho Oyama, Ayaka Watanabe, Sun-Ju Ahn Lead the Packs

Just have time for a quick update on the Blue Bay LPGA and Nobuta Group Masters GC Ladies tournaments.

The LPGA event on Hainan Island was supposed to be 72 holes, but the 2nd round was washed out by heavy rains and the tournament will be reduced to 54 holes.  That puts an even greater premium on the great start by Jessica Korda, who opened with a bogey-free 31 on the front and held on for a 66 that gave her a 1-shot lead on Michelle Wie, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lang, Caroline Masson, Lee-Anne Pace, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff and a 2-shot lead on Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Chella Choi, Caroline Hedwall, Danielle Kang, and Dewi Claire Schreefel.  Of course, with 43 golfers within 5 shots of the lead, this is still anyone’s tournament, and there are plenty of great golfers lurking.

Over on the JLPGA, Shiho Oyama has gone 65-67 to take a 1-shot lead on Ayaka Watanabe, who fired a bogey-free 63, and a 2-shot lead on Sun-Ju Ahn, who’s looking for her 3rd-straight victory on tour.  The visiting Paula Creamer is 6 shots off the pace, while Ji-Yai Shin, who had gone as cold in her last few events as she had been hot in her previous dozen starts, bounced back from an opening 77 with a 66 today to make the cut by a hair.