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:
- Alexandra Atseff, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Book to Film [blog]
- Aubrey Cunningham, Fantasy Fiction [blog]
- Halie Degnan, Alternate Worlds [web site]
- Paige Jones, Fairy Tale Seamstress [blog on making of fairy tale dress for character in her fairy tale revision of Beauty and the Beast]
- Jessica Krajacic and Skylar Pratt, Fantasy Fiction and the Harry Potter Generation [blog]
- Kyle Roof, Harry Potter vs. LotR vs. GoT–Fantasy Fiction Club [live-action on youtube]
- Rhiannon Vercant, A Neapolitan Cinderella in Oz [animation on vimeo]
- Ashley Weinheimer, History of Magic School [blog]
- Kristal Zarczynski, Fantasy Blog [blog]
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
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
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!
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 Korda, Misuzu 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!]
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….
So far, the title for best 2014 in women’s golf is down to 8 golfers. Each has at least 3 worldwide wins on major women’s professional tours. As impressive as Stacy Lewis has been, her difficulty in sealing the deal has opened the door to some golfers who have been racking up wins of late. Still, Stacy’s still my #1 candidate:
- Stacy Lewis (3): North Texas LPGA Shootout (May); ShopRite LPGA Classic (June); Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (June)
- Hyo Joo Kim (5): Kia Motors Korean Women’s Open (June); Kumho Tire Women’s Open (July); Hanwha Classic (August); Evian Championship (September); Hite Jinro Championship (October)
- Sun-Ju Ahn (5): Yamaha Ladies Open (April); Chukyo TV Bridgestone Ladies Open (May); Suntory Ladies (June); Stanley Ladies (October); Fujitsu Ladies (October)
- Inbee Park (3): World Ladies Championship (March); Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (June); Wegmans LPGA Championship (August)
- Kyu Jung Baek (4): Nexen-Saint Nine Ladies Masters (April); Lotte Cantata Women’s Open (June); MetLife KLPGA Championship (August); LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship (October)
- Ji-Yai Shin (4): Nichirei Ladies (June); Meiji Cup (August); Nitori Ladies (August); Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic (September)
- Bo-Mee Lee (3): Hoken No Madoguchi Ladies (May); Century 21 Ladies (July); NEC Karuizawa 72 Ladies (August)
- Misuzu Narita (3): Salonpas Cup (May); Yonex Ladies (June); Samantha Thavasa Ladies (July)
In a nutshell, the best of the best women golfers in the world have not yet begun to fight! Who do you think will prevail in the end?