Wegmans LPGA Championship Sunday: Inbee Park Defeats Brittany Lincicome with Clutch Up-and-Down on 1st Playoff Hole

The narrative all week here at the Wegmans LPGA Championship has been that Monroe Golf Club is a bombers’ paradise, but in the end the final edition of the tournament in Rochester became a pitch-and-putt contest between defending champion Inbee Park, who made 2 clutch 10 footers in her last 2 holes to get to -11, and Brittany Lincicome, who 3-putted from about 25 feet on the 72nd hole to fall back to that same number and open the door to the former world #1.

They played the 18th again on the first playoff hole, and even though Lincicome outdrove Park by over 50 yards, both players went over the green with their approaches.  Lincicome ended up not far from where she left her 25-footer 6 feet short, while Park had gunned for the pin and rolled to the back-right rough right behind it.  Lincicome hit a good chip, but it released to about 9 feet, while Park cozied hers up within 3 feet.  The previous night, Lincicome had admitted that the key place her nerves show up is on the greens, while Park has been talking down her putting this year but even before she switched putters last week was still among the top 3 in the world on the greens this year on the LPGA.  Long story short:  Lincicome missed.  Park made.  Park defended her title.

More to come!

[Update 1 (7:52 pm):  I spent most of the day following Mina Harigae (16th-18th holes), Jennifer Song (6th-12th), Danielle Kang (10th-18th), and Tiffany Joh and Jane Park (12th-end, back and forth between their 2 groups).  But I did get back to the 17th green in time to see Lydia Ko fail to get up-and-down from the neck on the 17th and watch Inbee pour in her birdie attempt.  I was to Inbee’s right for her drive on 18 and the intensity on her face as she transitioned to her downswing was something to behold.  I couldn’t get close to the green, but I saw her par save disappear and heard the crowd’s roar an instant later.  I tried to get back to the 18th tee in time to see the 2 players tee off from the tee area, but was blocked by the ropes for the short way and had to go the long way around.  Made it within 100 yards of the tee on the right side of the fairway, but by that time Lincicome was ready to drive.]

[Update 2 (7:58 pm):  Brittany came into the interview room while I was typing update #1.  I got to ask her about her thought process after her bogey on the par-5 12th and she gave a fantastic answer.  I hope she continues to play well because she’s one of the best interviews on the LPGA.  Totally honest and very thoughtful.]

Wegmans LPGA Championship Sunday: Inbee Park Defeats Brittany Lincicome with Clutch Up-and-Down on 1st Playoff Hole

Wegmans LPGA Championship Thursday: Lexi Thompson and Meena Lee Lead at -6

Even though I’m writing this from the media center at Monroe Golf Club, I’m sure you know more about what happened during the 1st round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship than I do.  You see, while Lexi Thompson (66), Meena Lee (66), Brittany Lincicome (67), Lisa McCloskey (67), and Shanshan Feng (68) were lighting it up in the morning, I was following Laura Davies, Angela Stanford, and So Yeon Ryu.  And while Cristie Kerr fired a 68 and Jennifer Kirby (-5 through 15) was going on a run in the afternoon, I was following Ai Miyazato, Sandra Gal, and Lizette Salas.  True, I did see a lot of shots from Feng, who was in the group behind us in the morning, but the only time I saw Lexi was when we happened to duck into the same porta-potty zone at the same time!  So I’m going to focus in this post on what I did focus on today:  6 golfers and 1 course (which I’ve now walked 3 times, so I feel like I’m starting to get to know it).

What was neat about following these 6 golfers was the range of styles of play they bring.  Davies is of course a classic bomber, while Ryu, Stanford, and Gal are straight shooters and Miyazato and Salas are precision players.  So I got to see how they each attempted to attack a course that was equally new to each of them.  Their scores ranged from 69 (Stanford) to 74 (Miyazato), but to tell you the truth, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the players in terms of quality of play.  I saw 84 drives today and only 1 missed the fairway by more than a yard–Davies’s pull into the trees off the 1st tee (where she ended up on wood chips that constituted a temporary cart path, took relief from it, punched out into the front-left trap, and made a great sandie to save par!).  Salas hit the fewest greens (11) and Gal the most (15), but until I looked it up, they didn’t seem so different from everyone else I followed, who hit 13 or 14.  I only saw a few bad misses of greens, as most ended up on the fringe or just off it.  One that stands out was Ryu’s double-cross on the par-3 6th that ended up in the front-left trap, from which she made double when she hit it a little thin out of the sand and ended up in jail over the back-right corner of the green.  Salas put herself in a few very difficult traps, as well, but she had trouble carrying the high banks and had to make excellent scrambles from the rough to save bogeys on those holes.  Even the apparent yardage differences from their scorecards are somewhat misleading, as they only average results on a few holes.  Davies was consistently longer than everyone else, while Ryu and Stanford were neck-and-neck on most holes.  Miyazato was surprisingly long, expecially on the front (their back), often outdriving both Gal and Salas.  In fact, Miyazato’s drive on 9 wasn’t that far short of Davies’s!

So what made the difference between their rounds?  If you guessed pitches, chips, and putts, pat yourself on the back.  Salas bogeyed her 1st 2 holes and needed to work to avoid a double on the par-4 11th, but she was able to make 3 birdies on each side to offset her 5 bogeys.  Miyazato had maybe the best ball-striking round I’ve ever seen her play, but she missed 5 putts between 4 and 12 feet on the back (her front) and I was so disheartened I stopped counting on the front.  And yet, after she made what turned out to be her only birdie of the day on the par-4 7th (after sticking her approach to 3 feet) and followed it up with another great approach on the short par-3 8th, she had 12 feet from pin-high right to fight back to E on the day.  The putt had perfect speed but crept around the perimeter of the hole instead of falling in.  Then she hits a great wedge on the par-5 9th that lands near the hole but fails to hold and as the rain starts falling just misses a chip-in and then misses the comebacker.  Contrast that with Stanford, who came about an inch short of an eagle on the par-4 18th and ended up being the only person I saw to break 70 today, and that just about sums it all up.

There’s a lot more to say–I literally charted every shot on my course map–but I don’t have time to go into more details.  So in the 10 minutes I have until I have to catch a shuttle and go to my favorite Korean restaurant in Rochester, let me just sum up the rounds in bullet points:

  • Ryu:  2 bad shots in a row on the par-3 6th were the only thing that kept her over par.  She did have trouble with super-long putts on the front a couple of times, but pretty much anyone would have.  Her left wrist was taped, but it didn’t seem to affect her ball-striking.  What held her back was an inability to make the putts she needed to get some momentum going.
  • Stanford:  She was solid all day and deserved to go a couple lower than she actually ended up.  That approach on 18 makes up for a lot, though!
  • Davies:  A typical adventurous round for Dame Laura, although after 1 she was almost always in the fairway all day.  She hit a driver off the deck on 9 and almost reached it in 2, but she also displayed fantastic touch out of the sand.  If a few par saves and birdie putts had fallen, she could have gone really low today.  71 was about the worst she could have scored.
  • Miyazato:  Fantastic ball-striking both off the tee and especially with her fairway woods and hybrids, solid pitches when she missed the green, but even when she stuck it or made good recovery shots, her putter just didn’t come through for her today.  At one point late on the back she missed 4 really make-able birdie or par putts in a row.  After her round, she talked about just accepting that it’s part of a process that she has to keep working at.  She attributed her improved ball-striking the last 2 months to a lot of hard work, so she knows at some point the putter will start working for her again.
  • Salas:  What a battler!  For every bad approach shot she’d hit, she’d hit a great one, too.  She had a good-sized group of family and fans following her and they had a lot to celebrate!
  • Gal:  A very elegant, artistic golfer, with great touch around the greens and on them.  She was right around the hole all day, but could get only 2 birdies to fall.  Her 71 was about the worst she could have scored, too, given the quality of her play.
All right, I hope I learned a lot about tempo, focus, and persistence that I can take to my Mid-Amateur qualifier tomorrow at Tuscarora.  Walking 36 wasn’t too much of a struggle, but I’ll be glad to get some food and some rest before I play at 9:39 am tomorrow!

Rory and Ji-Yai Rose to the Occasion; Inbee and Suzann Couldn’t

Heading out to Rochester after my union retreat in Albany is over to scout out Monroe Golf Club and see who I can follow, but I couldn’t help thinking aloud about the way in which Rory McIlroy and Ji-Yai Shin rose to the occasion on their respective tours, while Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen couldn’t block rookie Mirim Lee from getting her 1st career win on the LPGA.

Let’s face it:  Rory’s win was epic in every way.  Seemed even Thor was sending him some lightning bolts in honor of his play by the time they finished the final round in near-darkness!  Ji-Yai did what she had to do against a former LPGAer whose career never took off in the States like Shin’s did.  But the epic battle that could have happened between Inbee and Suzann just never materialized.  Suzann was +2 over her final 13 holes, while Inbee was +1 over her last 15 holes.

It’s crazy what a fine line separates a truly great performance from the “coulda woulda shoulda” chorus line!  At least Inbee and Suzann are in some fantastic company, as I don’t think there’s enough room on the internet to list all the guys who are wondering what mightabeen yesterday at Valhalla!

Fortunately, the Defrost

So we got over 8″ of snow here in Hamburg in what feels like the 1st winter storm since 2010 not to suddenly weaken, veer off, or blow through too fast to do much damage.  And more may be coming.  Yada yada yada.  That’s life in western NY.  Or at least life like it oughtta be this time of year.  That’s not the weird thing.

The weird thing is that my Versa’s defrost went haywire on my way to work this morning and it turned out to be serious enough that I had to get the car towed and will have to pay a boatload of money to get it fixed.  Bad luck, right?  Well, yeah, but at least I was lucky enough to semi-glide my way to a place to park the car until I could sort things out–lucky not to slide off the road or into the oncoming lane when I was navigating via peering out my driver’s side window, that is.  But that’s not the weirder thing.

The weirder thing is that my Versa’s defrost went haywire about a mile before I hit the Thruway entrance on my way to work this morning, at a time that prevented me from renting a car to get down to Fredonia.  Snow day!  And a pretty good day for it, as there were so many accidents between Hamburg and Dunkirk on the Thruway that they shut down that section of it.

The odds were pretty decent that I might have been involved in one of those accidents.  And even better that I would have been stranded in Fredonia overnight–the same night Onechan and Imoto’s cousin from Okinawa (whom I’ll call Onichan) arrived (safely, if an hour late) for a month-long stay with us.

As it was, I got to experience the utter weirdness of having shovelled the snow out of my driveway into piles up to my chest in places and an hour later driving completely dry roads just 20 miles north on the way to the Buffalo airport.  In fact, there was barely any snow at the Wegmans at which we do most of our grocery shopping just 5 miles north of us.  Even the Erie County Fairgrounds about a mile north of us got a lot less snow than we did in the village.

That was the weirdest thing.  Too bad Onichan was too jet-lagged to really appreciate it.

The Week the Mighty Fell

Just like the temperature has been yo-yo-ing around in western NY this December, some of the best golfers in the world ran hot and cold this past week.  Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu, and Tiger Woods each seemingly had wins sewn up yesterday before Pornanong Phatlum, Lydia Ko, and Zach Johnson zoomed past them down the home stretch. [Insert cliche about thrill of victory/agony of defeat, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, or another of your choice here.]

Phatlum’s Shanshan Feng-like near-hole-out to beat Lewis had Ruthless Mike wondering if Stacy is as snake-bit as Greg Norman.  Not yet.  Ryu can also stake a claim to the title, as she lost to Sei Young Kim in September on the KLPGA when Kim made 2 final-round eagles in her last 10 holes!  But my own personal nominee is Ai Miyazato, who got to watch her brother Yusaku win on the Japan Tour yesterday.  Twice in a row at the LPGA Founders Cup she’s run into the buzzsaw of the world #1 being the world #1–Ya Ni Tseng in 2012 and Stacy Lewis in 2013.  Ya Ni actually held Ai-sama off twice in 2012, just a few weeks earlier at the Honda LPGA Thailand.  Too long ago to count?  Well, Ai-sama was making a charge in late September on the JLPGA, looking like she was headed for her 1st win there since 2009, only to fall apart down the stretch and hand the trophy to Na-Ri Lee.
Let’s face it.  Golf is cruel.  And that’s how/why we love it.  Right?

Ricoh Women’s British Open Thursday: Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth made hay while the sun shone yesterday–literally as well as figuratively–at the Old Course at St. Andrews, firing a pair of 66s to take the 1st-round lead at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.  They were the only golfers to get to -6 and actually stay there, as

  • world #1 Inbee Park, who got out to a blazing start in her bid to do what nobody else has ever done, with 6 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, had to settle for a 69, as she bogeyed the short par-4 13th, 3-putted 16 and 17 to go double bogey-bogey, then salvaged her round with a fine birdie on 18;
  • Katie Burnett opened with a 30 (without even birdieing the lone par 5 on the front!) but stumbled home with 4 bogeys in her last 6 holes to also take a disappointing 69;
  • Eun-Hee Ji birdied 6 of her 1st 10 holes and Nicole Castrale birdied 6 of her 1st 11, but each limited their damage to a single bogey the rest of the way, Ji at 13 and Castrale at 15, to join Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi, the JLPGA’s Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ryann O’Toole, and Sydnee Michaels in T2 at -5.

In fact, plenty of players who shot good numbers in the good weather were probably also singing the “coulda woulda shoulda” song in their heads the rest of the day.  Angela Stanford, who came in on the red-eye and had her clubs lost on the way, was -5 through 14, but bogeyed 15 and 16 to settle for a 69.  Ai Miyazato was -5 through her 1st 12 holes but doubled the 13th and couldn’t find another birdie the rest of the way to join Burnett, Stanford, and the rest of the big group at -3 (among them Hee Kyung Seo, who was -4 until she bogeyed the Road Hole, and Solheim Cup hopeful Sandra Gal, who was -4 through 12 but bogeyed 13 and 14 and came back with a birdie on the Road Hole).  Liz Young was also -5 through 12 and also doubled the 13th–what is up with that tiny little hole, anyway?!–but she offset her bogey on the 16th with birdies on the 14th and 17th (yup, on the Road Hole!).  Rookie Ayako Uehara was -4 through 15 but bogeyed the 16th to join Young, Paula Creamer, Catriona Matthew, Lizette Salas, Danielle Kang, Pernilla Lindberg, Dori Carter, and amateur Georgia Hall at -4.

On a day when 37 golfers broke 70 and 73 went under par, having to accept a 70 (as Suzanne Pettersen, In-Kyung Kim, Anna Nordqvist, Hee Young Park, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Karine Icher, JLPGA money-list leader Rikako Morita, Mamiko Higa, and LET Order of Merit leader Lee-Anne Pace, among others, did), a 71 (as Ji-Yai Shin, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr, Sun Young Yoo, and Chella Choi did), or a 72 (as Laura Davies, Ya Ni Tseng, Jessica Korda, Moriya Jutanugarn, Sophie Gustafson, Jeong Jang, and Pornanong Phatlum, among others, did) is bad enough.  You want as big a cushion under par as possible in case the weather turns (and that’s usually a matter of when, not if, in Scotland).  But when you’re fighting for a spot on your side’s Solheim Cup team, a bad round has to hurt even more.  For Team USA, Jennifer Johnson, Michelle Wie, and Gerina Piller shot 74s.  Maybe whoever makes the cut gets the last spot on the team?  For Team Euro, it was even worse.  It’s bad enough that Beatriz Recari came off her win with the worst score of a day, a 78, but she’s definitely on the team and everyone has an awful day now and then.  But 76s from Caroline Masson, Guilia Sergas, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Charley Hull?  74s from Carlota Ciganda and Gwladys Nocera?  True, Ciganda’s a lock and Masson’s place is almost as secure, but it’s desperation time for Nocera, Sergas, Ewart Shadoff, and Hull.  They weren’t alone in wasting a nice day, as 74s from Karrie Webb, Mika Miyazato, Sakura Yokomine, 75s from Lexi Thompson, Chie Arimura, and Momoko Ueda, and 76s from Amy Yang and Ilhee Lee attest.  I don’t want to say this week means less to those players–it’s just that a little less is at stake for Thompson, who’s already on Team USA, and the rest, who don’t even have teams to fight for just yet (can’t wait for that new international team competition to roll around!).

Of course, not everybody stumbled down the stretch or had terrible days.  Pressel putted like Phil Mickelson did when he won the Open Championship.  Creamer, Kang, Lindberg, O’Toole, Marianne Skarpnord, and probably others went bogey-free.  Matthew, Ko, and probably others finished birdie-birdie.  Malena Jorgensen made 5 birdies in her last 12 holes of bogey-free golf and Caroline Hedwall birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to both break 70.  And so on!  But it’s time to get tomodachi-chan ready for her flight home to Japan (let’s hope Delta actually makes the connection to Detroit on time from Buffalo today, unlike yesterday, when they told us at the gate that they wouldn’t be able to do that) and I’m still recovering from the last push over the last few days to get my application to teach American Studies in Japan on a Fulbright grant in on time.  I might be able to sneak in an hour of WBO coverage before we have to head out to the airport, or I might have to wait.  Looking at the scorecards, I couldn’t help but see how a lot of players were doing today.  All I can say is, be sure to watch the opening montage and overviews.  Miki Saiki did something amazing on the front today!

Ricoh Women’s British Open Thursday: Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth made hay while the sun shone yesterday–literally as well as figuratively–at the Old Course at St. Andrews, firing a pair of 66s to take the 1st-round lead at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.  They were the only golfers to get to -6 and actually stay there, as

  • world #1 Inbee Park, who got out to a blazing start in her bid to do what nobody else has ever done, with 6 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, had to settle for a 69, as she bogeyed the short par-4 13th, 3-putted 16 and 17 to go double bogey-bogey, then salvaged her round with a fine birdie on 18;
  • Katie Burnett opened with a 30 (without even birdieing the lone par 5 on the front!) but stumbled home with 4 bogeys in her last 6 holes to also take a disappointing 69;
  • Eun-Hee Ji birdied 6 of her 1st 10 holes and Nicole Castrale birdied 6 of her 1st 11, but each limited their damage to a single bogey the rest of the way, Ji at 13 and Castrale at 15, to join Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi, the JLPGA’s Mi-Jeong Jeon, Ryann O’Toole, and Sydnee Michaels in T2 at -5.

In fact, plenty of players who shot good numbers in the good weather were probably also singing the “coulda woulda shoulda” song in their heads the rest of the day.  Angela Stanford, who came in on the red-eye and had her clubs lost on the way, was -5 through 14, but bogeyed 15 and 16 to settle for a 69.  Ai Miyazato was -5 through her 1st 12 holes but doubled the 13th and couldn’t find another birdie the rest of the way to join Burnett, Stanford, and the rest of the big group at -3 (among them Hee Kyung Seo, who was -4 until she bogeyed the Road Hole, and Solheim Cup hopeful Sandra Gal, who was -4 through 12 but bogeyed 13 and 14 and came back with a birdie on the Road Hole).  Liz Young was also -5 through 12 and also doubled the 13th–what is up with that tiny little hole, anyway?! [sorry, confused it with 12]–but she offset her bogey on the 16th with birdies on the 14th and 17th (yup, on the Road Hole!).  Rookie Ayako Uehara was -4 through 15 but bogeyed the 16th to join Young, Paula Creamer, Catriona Matthew, Lizette Salas, Danielle Kang, Pernilla Lindberg, Dori Carter, and amateur Georgia Hall at -4.

On a day when 37 golfers broke 70 and 73 went under par, having to accept a 70 (as Suzanne Pettersen, In-Kyung Kim, Anna Nordqvist, Hee Young Park, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Karine Icher, JLPGA money-list leader Rikako Morita, Mamiko Higa, and LET Order of Merit leader Lee-Anne Pace, among others, did), a 71 (as Ji-Yai Shin, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr, Sun Young Yoo, and Chella Choi did), or a 72 (as Laura Davies, Ya Ni Tseng, Jessica Korda, Moriya Jutanugarn, Sophie Gustafson, Jeong Jang, and Pornanong Phatlum, among others, did) is bad enough.  You want as big a cushion under par as possible in case the weather turns (and that’s usually a matter of when, not if, in Scotland).  But when you’re fighting for a spot on your side’s Solheim Cup team, a bad round has to hurt even more.  For Team USA, Jennifer Johnson, Michelle Wie, and Gerina Piller shot 74s.  Maybe whoever makes the cut gets the last spot on the team?  For Team Euro, it was even worse.  It’s bad enough that Beatriz Recari came off her win with the worst score of a day, a 78, but she’s definitely on the team and everyone has an awful day now and then.  But 76s from Caroline Masson, Guilia Sergas, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Charley Hull?  74s from Carlota Ciganda and Gwladys Nocera?  True, Ciganda’s a lock and Masson’s place is almost as secure, but it’s desperation time for Nocera, Sergas, Ewart Shadoff, and Hull.  They weren’t alone in wasting a nice day, as 74s from Karrie Webb, Mika Miyazato, Sakura Yokomine, 75s from Lexi Thompson, Chie Arimura, and Momoko Ueda, and 76s from Amy Yang and Ilhee Lee attest.  I don’t want to say this week means less to those players–it’s just that a little less is at stake for Thompson, who’s already on Team USA, and the rest, who don’t even have teams to fight for just yet (can’t wait for that new international team competition to roll around!).

Of course, not everybody stumbled down the stretch or had terrible days.  Pressel putted like Phil Mickelson did when he won the Open Championship.  Creamer, Kang, Lindberg, O’Toole, Marianne Skarpnord, and probably others went bogey-free.  Matthew, Ko, and probably others finished birdie-birdie.  Malena Jorgensen made 5 birdies in her last 12 holes of bogey-free golf and Caroline Hedwall birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to both break 70.  And so on!  But it’s time to get tomodachi-chan ready for her flight home to Japan (let’s hope Delta actually makes the connection to Detroit on time from Buffalo today, unlike yesterday, when they told us at the gate that they wouldn’t be able to do that) and I’m still recovering from the last push over the last few days to get my application to teach American Studies in Japan on a Fulbright grant in on time.  I might be able to sneak in an hour of WBO coverage before we have to head out to the airport, or I might have to wait.  Looking at the scorecards, I couldn’t help but see how a lot of players were doing today.  All I can say is, be sure to watch the opening montage and overviews.  Miki Saiki did something amazing on the front today!

Fortunately, Unfortunately

So I failed to qualify for the New York State Golf Association’s Men Amateur Championship yesterday at Wayne Hills in Lyons, NY.  Let’s do the rundown in the form of “fortunately, unfortunately” to make it at least mildly entertaining for some people.

Fortunately, I didn’t embarrass myself this time (as I did in pretty much all my tournaments last year).  I actually beat the two members of the St. John Fisher’s golf team I was paired with (they had bad days for them, while I actually had a pretty good day for me).  I shot a respectable 81 and it was about the highest I could have scored given how well I struck the ball.

Unfortunately, I missed the cut by 8 shots.  This qualifier had the lowest medalist scores (3-under 69s) and lowest qualifying scores (1-over 73s).  There was about a 1% probability I could have scored that low that day, given that I was 5-over after 4 holes!

Fortunately, I bounced back from a bad start (caused mostly by a hacking triple on a long par 3 and some shaky putting and ball-striking over the previous 3 holes), going only 4-over over my final 14 holes.  In fact, except for the 2 holes on which I had sand-related disasters (1 early on each side), I was 4-over for my other 16 holes.

Unfortunately, my putter let me down repeatedly on the front and at key times on the back, as well.

Fortunately, I did putt well enough to make a couple of nice par saves and a birdie on the 2nd-toughest hole on the course.

Unfortunately, despite all 4 of Wayne Hills’s par 5s being short, I failed to birdie any of them and actually 3-putted the 9th for a bogey when I flared a 3/4 wedge way right on an easy approach that should have resulted in a birdie opportunity.

Fortunately, my overall ball-striking, especially off the tee and with my long irons and hybrids, was the best it’s been all season and maybe better than anything I was doing last year, too.  I hit 12 of 14 fairways and just missed the two I did miss.  I hit 8 greens, was on the fringe of a good number of others, and gave myself a handful of really good looks at birdie.

Unfortunately, those two fairways I missed forced me to play defensively on my approach shots on the 1st and last holes, leading to bogeys when I failed to get up and down on both holes from near the green.  In fact, my overall chipping and pitching was pretty sub-par (and not in a good way) all day.  And how many birdie putts did I misread or leave dead center and short?  All of the good looks!

Fortunately, I was clubbing myself really well all day, so at least I didn’t have to chip or pitch all that often and had a lot of chances for birdie.

Unfortunately, I had a key mis-club late in the round when I needed to keep giving myself birdie chances and went over the green by 10 yards.  No caddie to blame for that one, either!

Fortunately, despite a bad pitch, that was one of the 2 holes when I made a putt I normally shouldn’t and wouldn’t have made.  That was on top of a playing partner making a miracle birdie from near-OB in the mud under a tree after duck hooking a drive and a provisional that both looked OB from the tee.  So it was a pretty cool moment for both of us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough of those cool moments to finish in the top 2/3 of the field.

Fortunately, given that I hadn’t even broken 40 for 9 holes until a few days before the tournament (two of them coming when I took onechan out for her 1st-ever complete 9 hole-round and I played two balls while she shot a 107 with 39 putts, not counting whiffs!), given that it rained so much the two days before it I couldn’t even practice or play either day, and given how wet the course was and how little roll I was getting, I was actually pretty happy to have given myself a good chance not only to break 80 but to get into the mid-70s.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t sharp enough or able to handle tournament pressure well enough to actually shoot a number that would have put me close to contending for qualifying.  My putting was no better than C+ that day; if it had been even close to my A- in ball-striking, I might have had a shot.

Fortunately, I know what I need to work on and what I need to get used to doing.  Shifting to South Shore as my home course has definitely made me more comfortable on the kinds of courses I’ll be playing in tournaments in July and August.  And it made a ~6600-yard, soaking wet, tree-lined, and narrow course like Wayne Hills something I could handle on less than 10 rounds in 2013 thus far (and most of those made up of cobbled-together 9-hole rounds on different days).

So overall, I’m going to focus on the positives, hope western and central NY courses dry out in July and August, and get ready for my next tournaments!

Yamaha Ladies Sunday: 19-Year-Old Mamiko Higa Wins Playoff, Takes 1st JLPGA Win

19-year-old Mamiko Higa’s best career finish on the JLPGA before this week had been a bronze last year, but she had been playing nowhere near that well in 2013, with a couple of missed cuts and only 2 rounds under par in her 1st 4 events.  But in the JLPGA’s 1st 4-round event of the season, the Yamaha Ladies, Higa hung tough while big names around her were crashing and burning.  A final-round 70, highlighted by 3 birdies and no bogeys in her last 13 holes, brought her to -4 for the week, but she needed a little luck to get into–much less win–the playoff with Teresa Lu and Kaori Ohe.  Ohe was -5 with 5 holes to play but after bogeys on the long par-4 14th and 16th needed a walkoff birdie just to get back to -4.  Lu, by contrast, suffered a walkoff bogey to drop back into the playoff.

But they were not the biggest names among those who helped Higa to the winner’s circle.  Even with an early double, Miki Saiki was -4 at the turn, but 2 bogeys and a walkoff birdie later and she ended up 1 shot shy of joining the payoff.  Yukari Baba made 3 early birdies to put herself in contention, and her 3 late birdies would have been enough for the win, except for the fact that she also made 3 bogeys over her last 10 holes.  The result?  A tie with Saiki.  Ritsuko Ryu was -5 with 4 holes to play but was -2 as she teed off on the 18th–ouch!  Sakura Yokomine bogeyed 2 of her last 3 holes to join Ryu 2 shots out of the playoff.  Even money list leader Rikako Morita had her struggles:  yes, she fired a bogey-free 33 on the back to leap into T6, only 2 shots out of the playoff, as well, but she opened with a 39 that featured a double on the 9th.  Yumiko Yoshida, who won for the 1st time last year, had the opposite problem:  a bogey-free 33 on the front got her into contention and she was still at -4 with 4 holes to play, but she bogeyed the 1st 2 of them back-to-back and also had to settle for a T6.  Onnarin Sattayabanphot was -4 at the turn, too, but a birdieless 39 on the back left her in T13.  Mayu Hattori made 3 bogeys in her last 11 holes and also finished 3 shots out of the playoff.

And those were just the smaller Sunday falls, as bangkokbobby noted.  Bo-Mee Lee was leading the tournament at -7 through her 1st 6 holes of bogey-free golf, so of course she made 7 bogeys in her last 12 holes to fall 3 off the pace.  Shiho Oyama was right on her tail at -6 through 5 holes today, but a bogey-bogey-double run sent her into a tailspin.  Still, after 2 birdies on the back, she was right back in the thick of the things at -4 with 4 holes to go.  So of course she finished par-double-bogey-par for yet another near-miss in 2013.  And the list goes on:  Soo-Yun Kang, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Na-Ri Lee, Yan-Hong Pan, Ah-Reum Hwang, Asako Fujimoto, even new pro Hyo-Joo Kim had their chances at the start of the day to win, but came nowhere close in the end.

Bottom line, though, is that Higa came through when the chips were down.  She made a birdie putt on the 2nd playoff hole after all 3 golfers parred the 1st.  So congratulations to another in the growing line of under-21 playoff 1st-time winners on the JLPGA:  Mamiko Higa!  Is this a changing of the guard we’re witnessing or just a lucky run?

Here’s how the JLPGA money list now looks:

1. Rikako Morita ¥33.97M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥21.77M
3. Mamiko Higa ¥18.96M
4. Natsuka Hori ¥16.09M
5. Yuki Ichinose ¥14.82M
6. Teresa Lu ¥13.22M
7. Sakura Yokomine ¥12.80M
8. Ritsuko Ryu ¥12.10M
9. Erika Kikuchi ¥11.56M
10. Harukyo Nomura ¥10.74M
11. Yukari Baba ¥10.20M
12. Miki Saiki ¥9.98M
13. Kaori Ohe ¥8.25M
14. Young Kim ¥8.24M
15. Shiho Oyama ¥8.15M
16. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥8.12M
17. Megumi Kido ¥7.74M
18. Hiromi Mogi ¥6.54M
19. Na-Ri Lee ¥6.25M
20. Bo-Mee Lee ¥5.71M

Next up is the Studio Alice Ladies, which features Ji-Yai Shin and Ayako Uehara from the LPGA.  Let’s see if defending champion Miki Saiki can shake off today’s disappointment, if Rikako Morita can keep her top-6 streak going, and if the JLPGA’s youth movement will keep going full team ahead.

Kraft Nabisco Championship Friday: Inbee Park’s 67 Gets Her the Yellow Jersey

Inbee Park fired the low round of the week, a 6-birdie 67, yesterday at Mission Hills to take the lead at the halfway point of the LPGA’s 1st major of 2013, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  At -7 through 36 holes, Park leads Lizette Salas by 1 shot, Caroline Hedwall and Guilia Sergas by 2, and Hee Young Park, Pornanong Phatlum, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff by 3.  Salas and Hedwall had great chances to match or surpass Park’s feat, but late bogeys derailed their efforts and they had to settle for 5-birdie 68s.  The only other players to come close to 67 or better were Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato, whose mistakes came earlier in their rounds but who bounced back for a 6-birdie and a 5-birdie 68, respectively, to move to T12 at -2, 1 shot behind Se Ri Pak, Ji-Yai Shin, Anna Nordqvist, and Haeji Kang.  The only other players to break 70 yesterday were Sergas, Phatlum, Pak, Kang, Julieta Granada (who moved up 48 spots but is still +2 for the week), and amateur Lindy Duncan, who bounced back from an opening 81 with a 69 that left her a mere shot from making the cut.

And yet, Mission Hills was still showing its teeth on Friday.  Just look at Na Yeon Choi and Suzann Pettersen, who seemingly could do no wrong Thursday:  they barely could do anything right yesterday, as Pettersen need a walkoff birdie (her only one of the day) to salvage a 75 and Choi offset her 3 birdies with 4 bogeys and a double (on the par-4 6th) to join her playing partner at -1, 6 shots off the lead, and tied with Jane Park, Jacqui Concolino, and Caroline Masson, who also moved backwards with 73s.  Even those who joined Miyazato and Creamer at -2 have plenty of mightabeens to get over:  Jessica Korda carded her 3rd double of the week to drop to +2 and needed a furious comeback on the back–a bogey-free 32–to fight back into contention; Amy Yang also had to bounce back from a birdieless 3-bogeys-in-10-holes start to fight back on the back; Cristie Kerr got it to -4 with 5 holes left to play and finished par-bogey-bogey-bogey-birdie; Michelle Wie and Hee Kyung Seo each scattered 6 birdies and 4 bogeys throughout their rounds.  Further down the leaderboard, Angela Stanford suffered a walkoff double on 18 to fall back to E for the week, Camilla Hedberg fell back to earth after getting to -4 late in her round when she doubled the 6th and 7th holes back-to-back, and Catriona Matthew bogeyed 3 holes in a row on the front (her back) right after fighting her way to -2.  Even the world #1 struggled, twice fighting back to -1 for the tournament and twice falling back.  Sure, you can’t count Stacy Lewis out when she has only 7 shots to make up over 36 holes, but she’s going to need to get–and stay–hot to have a chance.  Yes, it’s likely that a good number of the 27 golfers ahead of her will struggle over the weekend–but all of them?  No way.

At least they’ll all get a chance to keep fighting on the weekend.  Defending champion Sun Young Yoo won’t, nor will former champion Brittany Lincicome.  But at least they can say they just played awful.  For Louise Friberg to back up a 71 with an 80 isn’t that big a deal, either, as she only played because it was her last year being exempt.  But for Brittany Lang to miss the cut after recovering from an 80 with a 71 has to hurt a lot more.  And for all the golfers who like Duncan missed it by a shot–from Azahara Munoz and Chie Arimura to Stacy Prammanasudh and Seon Hwa Lee to Danielle Kang, Jennifer Song, Sydnee Michaels, Austin Ernst, Jennie Lee, and Veronica Felibert–well, that’s got to be no fun at all.  At least their suffering allowed those at +5 to sneak into the weekend–Shanshan Feng and Mo Martin earned it with 71s, but the rest have to consider themselves very lucky–not that that’s going to be any consolation to those at +6.

Saturday play has alreayd started, so I’ll stop here.  Let’s see who can play the best over the last 36 holes!

Ricoh Women’s British Open Recap: Ji-Yai Shin Rocks Royal Liverpool

Neither howling wind nor driving rain nor lengthy weather delays at the 2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open could delay Ji-Yai Shin from her appointment with history.  As is well-known by now, she beat Paula Creamer by the largest margin in the history of the WBO to capture her 10th career LPGA victory and her 2nd major (both WBOs), joining Se Ri Pak as the only South Koreans (and Asians) to have won more than 1 major on the world’s best professional tour for women.

What seems to be less well-known, at least going by the many excellent posts and articles I have read on Shin, is how hot many of Shin’s closest chasers were coming into this event, which makes her dominating win even more impressive.  Looking at those who fell by the wayside and how they did it really puts the Final Round Queen’s Sunday play in perspective.  It’s not just that she was solid and steady and unflappable while the hope of those around were being blown away by those two huge squalls that blew in as the leaders started each side.  It’s that Shin kept attacking Royal Liverpool while others were just trying to survive.

Take Ai Miyazato, who I still believe is the best player in the world without an LPGA major to her name.  She took a 9 on the 4th hole of the final round mere minutes after Shin’s only big mistake of the week, a triple on the 1st, seemed to open the door to those like Ai-sama who had been hanging around E all week.  Just like Karrie Webb, a Hall of Famer with 7 majors to her name whose game and experience seemed perfect for last week–and whose 3rd-round 68 gave her loads of momentum and only a 3-shot deficit heading into the final round–Ai-sama failed to break 80 after starting so disastrously.  That’s 2 rivals down.

How about Paula Creamer, who had taken Shin to the 9th playoff hole just 6 days earlier?  Well, she would have been a factor if her Achilles heel from Kingsmill hadn’t joined her on the transatlantic voyage.  She simply missed too many short putts to take advantage of her excellent ball-striking and fantastic mid-length putting during WBO week.  That final burst where she went birdie-eagle-par-birdie to battle back to +1 for the week showed that she had the firepower to again make this a photo finish with Shin.  She just couldn’t sustain those kinds of runs or avoid the mistakes that end them.  (Plus she was +4 with no birdies over her 1st 14 holes in that final round.)

What about So Yeon Ryu, who was coming off a big win in Korea, where she beat Na Yeon Choi by 4 shots?  Well, she fought back from a disastrous stretch on Saturday where she went bogey-par-triple-bogey as she made the turn from the back to the front to salvage a 74 and stay at E after 2 rounds, but she just couldn’t bounce back enough from a double on the 8th in her 3rd round and a triple bogey-bogey start to her final round.  So the presumptive Rookie of the Year ended up 12 shots behind Shin.

Now let’s turn to the 2 hottest golfers in the world of women’s golf, Mika Miyazato and Inbee Park, who played their last 36 holes with Shin and could have put a lot of pressure on her. 

Park was coming off an amazing Sunday charge on the JLPGA the previous week, where she birdied her last 5 holes in a row to miss a playoff with Chie Arimura by a single shot.  WBO Sunday, though, was another story.  After getting to 6-under through 52 holes, she faltered big-time, making 4 bogeys, 2 doubles, and no birdies over her next 17 holes.  In a nutshell, she couldn’t handle the squalls as well as Shin did.  Yes, she birdied 2 of her last 3 holes to end up E for the week, but this normally great accomplishment was only good enough to prevent Shin from winning by double digits.  Still, her silver medal was her her 4th in her last 8 starts (to go with a gold and a bronze and a 4th!).  Even more impressively, she has 9 top 10s in a row and hasn’t finished outside the top 26 since her 1st LPGA event of the year in Thailand.  In her 17 starts this year, she has 14 top 25s, 13 top 20s (and 12 in a row and counting!), 9 top 10s, and 7 top 5s.  That’s why she leads the LPGA money list by $266K (more than most players make in a year!).  But she lost ground to Shin when it counted most last Sunday.

Mikan also had a great chance to win last week.  She was -6 through 51 holes, thanks to a stretch from the 7th through 15th holes where she made 5 birdies.  But, she, too, faltered at the end of her third round, like Park doubling the tough 17th and failing to birdie the par-5 18th (but topped her by bogeying the 16th, too).  And even though she survived the 1st squall, limiting her damage to a single bogey on the 1st hole and hanging tough with 8 straight pars, she was totally blown away by the 2nd, going bogey-bogey-double when she needed to be bearing down and putting pressure on Shin.  She played great from then on and can be forgiven for missing 2 short putts on the last 2 holes, but she still shot a 41 on the back 9 on Sunday despite playing fantastic golf the previous 63 holes and despite extending her streak on the LPGA to 9 top-16 finishes in a row, during which she has earned 1 win, 2 silvers, a bronze, and a 4th at the WBO.  Yes, she reached the $1M mark last week for the 1st time in her short professional career and remains the most accurate off the tee on tour.  But she lost to Shin by 11 shots.

So forget that Ya Ni Tseng couldn’t 3-peat or that Stacy Lewis and Na Yeon Choi had bad tournaments by their world-class standards.  Shin faced down the hottest players in the world of women’s golf and made them wonder what course she was playing.  You think her front-row seat to Lydia Ko’s history-making win at the Canadian Open didn’t light a fire under her?  She only beat the 15-year-old by 18 shots last week!  How tough is she?  She made 5 birdies after opening with that shocking triple, bouncing back from 2 bogeys midway through her round with her last 3 the second the winds slowed even slightly.  Shin attacked Royal Liverpool while everyone else was trying to keep from being blown away by the conditions.  And in the end she was the one who blew them away.

So now Shin has moved up to #5 on the money list with $1.17M and #2 in the Player of the Year race, as well as extended her lead in the race for the Vare Trophy to over a third of a stroke (although she needs 19 more rounds to meet the minimum eligibility requirement).  She’s heading into the Asian swing with all kinds of momentum and has all kinds of motivation to take the title of top Korean golfer in the world away from Na Yeon Choi, Sun-Ju Ahn, Inbee Park, Mi-Jeong Jeon, and her other rivals who she’ll be facing in both the Japan Women’s Open and the LPGA’s Korea event (I’m hoping Ahn and Jeon show up for it, that is!).  A return to #1 in the Rolex Rankings is probably too much to ask in 2012, but the way she won her last 2 events in a row is certainly reminding me of the phenom who dominated the KLPGA and burst onto the LPGA with a Hall of Fame-type pace.  She beat Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato to 10 LPGA victories and is now only 5 behind Tseng.

Talk about the Return of the (Final Round) Queen!  My apologies to those starting the Navistar in a few hours, but I’m still looking backwards, not ahead!

Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic Overview: Huge Upset for Natsu Nagai

Natsu Nagai birdied 5 of her last 10 holes and 3 of her last 5 last Sunday at the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic to blast past some of the JLPGA’s biggest names and capture her 1st career victory in 9 years of trying.

Money-list leader Mi-Jeong Jeon had opened with a 64 and got to -12 for the week with a birdie on the 1st hole of her final round, but lost all her momentum after bogeying the par-5 3rd hole and found herself on the 18th tee 1 shot behind Nagai, needing a birdie on the 367-yard par-4 to force a playoff.  Instead, she doubled it to fall back to 4th place, 1 shot behind Miki Saiki and Bo-Mee Lee.  Saiki birdied 3 of her last 4 holes to pull within 2 shots of Nagai, but it was Lee who had the best chance to win–at least until a double on the 383-yard par-4 14th dropped her back to -9.  Playing with Lee, Nagai took advantage with a birdie, engineering a 3-shot swing on a hole she moved to -10 on.  From there, she outbirdied Lee 2 to 1 to secure the victory.

Other players shot themselves out of the running on the front 9.  Chie Arimura posted a birdie-less 38 that made her closing 33 moot.  Da-Ye Na squandered her 71-65 start to the week with a triple and 2 bogeys in her 1st 4 holes that dug way too big a hole for her to climb out of, even with a 4-birdie 33 on the back.  Similarly, Misuzu Narita opened bogey-par-triple to make her closing heroics–6 birdies in her last 12 holes–too little and far too late.

True, all of them needed perfect rounds to have a chance of chasing down Nagai, who opened and closed her week with 66s.  But let’s face it, when a veteran who’s never won more than 16 million yen in a single season walks away with a win, it’s got to make more players than usual be thinking “coulda woulda shoulda” and wondering why they couldn’t find their way to the winner’s circle.  Certainly defending champion Mayu Hattori and perennial star Sakura Yokomine, who couldn’t seem to get it out of neutral this week, would have loved to be in the mix instead of the middle of the pack.

Nagai’s win means that Jeon failed to extend her money-list lead significantly on either Sun-Ju Ahn or Arimura.  But the JLPGA’s Big 3 still have a huge lead on the rest of the top 10….

1. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥105.82M
2. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥92.89M
3. Chie Arimura ¥85.18M
4. Ritsuko Ryu ¥61.50M
5. Mayu Hattori ¥60.93M
6. Miki Saiki ¥57.98M
7. Bo-Mee Lee ¥55.84M
8. Ji-Hee Lee ¥52.40M
9. Rikako Morita ¥50.82M
10. Sakura Yokomine ¥44.18M
11. Yumiko Yoshida ¥43.64M
12. Inbee Park ¥41.94M
13. Shanshan Feng ¥40.48M
14. Soo-Yun Kang ¥35.84M
15. Hiromi Mogi ¥32.06M
16. Esther Lee ¥30.18M
17. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥29.64M
18. Mihoko Iseri ¥29.20M
19. Yuri Fudoh ¥28.27M
20. Kaori Ohe ¥28.01M
21. Megumi Kido ¥25.86M
22. Natsu Nagai ¥25.41M
23. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥22.41M
24. Yuki Ichinose ¥22.00M
25. Kumiko Kaneda ¥21.83M
26. So-Hee Kim ¥21.75M
27. Na-Ri Lee¥21.09M
28. Na-Ri Kim ¥21.01M
29. Yukari Baba ¥20.58M
30. Miki Sakai ¥20.48M
31. Shinobu Moromizato ¥20.35M
32. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥20.29M
33. Rui Kitada ¥20.17M
34. Ayako Uehara ¥19.51M
35. Akane Iijima ¥18.81M
36. Erina Hara ¥18.68M
37. Junko Omote ¥18.60M
38. Airi Saitoh ¥18.35M
39. Young Kim¥18.05M
40. Ji-Yai Shin ¥17.78M
41. Eun-Bi Jang ¥17.31M
42. Erika Kikuchi ¥17.12M
43. Teresa Lu ¥16.95M
44. Bo-Bae Song ¥15.63M
45. Saiki Fujita¥15.00M
46. Harukyo Nomura ¥14.48M
47. Yuko Fukuda ¥14.28M
48. Da-Ye Na ¥13.00M
49. Hsuan-Yu Yao ¥11.79M
50. Nikki Campbell ¥11.61M

If Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng weren’t playing so great on the LPGA this year, you might have seen them focusing more on moving up the JLPGA money list the rest of the season.  Jeon, after all, could have won at least half a dozen more events if she were a better closer, Ahn and Arimura are having good but not great seasons, and no one else has been as consistently strong as the dual LPGA-JLPGA members.  I’m not saying Park has a legitimate shot at taking both the LPGA and JLPGA money titles this year, but if she hadn’t caught fire on the LPGA I wouldn’t put it past her to have taken a serious run at the JLPGA’s Big 3.

As it is, what’s next for the JLPGA is the 40th playing of the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open this week.  And, yes, Virginia, Feng will be there to defend her title against the likes of, oh, everyone ahead of her on the money list except Park.  A successful title defense would most likely return her squarely into the top 10.  Let’s see if she can do it!  It would give her some serious momentum heading into the Japan Women’s Open the following week, which will feature the likes of Ya Ni Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Park, and the rest of the JLPGA’s finest, along with the typical bumper crop of teenage amateurs:  14-year-olds Minami Katsu and Rei Matsuda, 15-year-olds Kana Nagai, Maria Shinohara, and Moeno Tan, 16-year-olds Mayu Hosaka, Aya Ishikawa, Asuka Kashiwabara, and Haruka Morita, 17-year-old Akane Saeki, and 18-year-olds Hikari Fujita, Yuri Matsuda, Aoi Onishi, and Ai Suzuki.  Highly doubtful any of them will pull a Lydia Ko against a field like that, but we’ll see!

Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic Overview: Huge Upset for Natsu Nagai

Natsu Nagai birdied 5 of her last 10 holes and 3 of her last 5 last Sunday at the Munsingwear Ladies Tokai Classic to blast past some of the JLPGA’s biggest names and capture her 1st career victory in 9 years of trying.

Money-list leader Mi-Jeong Jeon had opened with a 64 and got to -12 for the week with a birdie on the 1st hole of her final round, but lost all her momentum after bogeying the par-5 3rd hole and found herself on the 18th tee 1 shot behind Nagai, needing a birdie on the 367-yard par-4 to force a playoff.  Instead, she doubled it to fall back to 4th place, 1 shot behind Miki Saiki and Bo-Mee Lee.  Saiki birdied 3 of her last 4 holes to pull within 2 shots of Nagai, but it was Lee who had the best chance to win–at least until a double on the 383-yard par-4 14th dropped her back to -9.  Playing with Lee, Nagai took advantage with a birdie, engineering a 3-shot swing on a hole she moved to -10 on.  From there, she outbirdied Lee 2 to 1 to secure the victory.

Other players shot themselves out of the running on the front 9.  Chie Arimura posted a birdie-less 38 that made her closing 33 moot.  Da-Ye Na squandered her 71-65 start to the week with a triple and 2 bogeys in her 1st 4 holes that dug way too big a hole for her to climb out of, even with a 4-birdie 33 on the back.  Similarly, Misuzu Narita opened bogey-par-triple to make her closing heroics–6 birdies in her last 12 holes–too little and far too late.

True, all of them needed perfect rounds to have a chance of chasing down Nagai, who opened and closed her week with 66s.  But let’s face it, when a veteran who’s never won more than 16 million yen in a single season walks away with a win, it’s got to make more players than usual be thinking “coulda woulda shoulda” and wondering why they couldn’t find their way to the winner’s circle.  Certainly defending champion Mayu Hattori and perennial star Sakura Yokomine, who couldn’t seem to get it out of neutral this week, would have loved to be in the mix instead of the middle of the pack.

Nagai’s win means that Jeon failed to extend her money-list lead significantly on either Sun-Ju Ahn or Arimura.  But the JLPGA’s Big 3 still have a huge lead on the rest of the top 10….

1. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥105.82M
2. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥92.89M
3. Chie Arimura ¥85.18M
4. Ritsuko Ryu ¥61.50M
5. Mayu Hattori ¥60.93M
6. Miki Saiki ¥57.98M
7. Bo-Mee Lee ¥55.84M
8. Ji-Hee Lee ¥52.40M
9. Rikako Morita ¥50.82M
10. Sakura Yokomine ¥44.18M
11. Yumiko Yoshida ¥43.64M
12. Inbee Park ¥41.94M
13. Shanshan Feng ¥40.48M
14. Soo-Yun Kang ¥35.84M
15. Hiromi Mogi ¥32.06M
16. Esther Lee ¥30.18M
17. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥29.64M
18. Mihoko Iseri ¥29.20M
19. Yuri Fudoh ¥28.27M
20. Kaori Ohe ¥28.01M
21. Megumi Kido ¥25.86M
22. Natsu Nagai ¥25.41M
23. Hyun-Ju Shin ¥22.41M
24. Yuki Ichinose ¥22.00M
25. Kumiko Kaneda ¥21.83M
26. So-Hee Kim ¥21.75M
27. Na-Ri Lee¥21.09M
28. Na-Ri Kim ¥21.01M
29. Yukari Baba ¥20.58M
30. Miki Sakai ¥20.48M
31. Shinobu Moromizato ¥20.35M
32. Yeo-Jin Kang ¥20.29M
33. Rui Kitada ¥20.17M
34. Ayako Uehara ¥19.51M
35. Akane Iijima ¥18.81M
36. Erina Hara ¥18.68M
37. Junko Omote ¥18.60M
38. Airi Saitoh ¥18.35M
39. Young Kim¥18.05M
40. Ji-Yai Shin ¥17.78M
41. Eun-Bi Jang ¥17.31M
42. Erika Kikuchi ¥17.12M
43. Teresa Lu ¥16.95M
44. Bo-Bae Song ¥15.63M
45. Saiki Fujita¥15.00M
46. Harukyo Nomura ¥14.48M
47. Yuko Fukuda ¥14.28M
48. Da-Ye Na ¥13.00M
49. Hsuan-Yu Yao ¥11.79M
50. Nikki Campbell ¥11.61M

If Inbee Park and Shanshan Feng weren’t playing so great on the LPGA this year, you might have seen them focusing more on moving up the JLPGA money list the rest of the season.  Jeon, after all, could have won at least half a dozen more events if she were a better closer, Ahn and Arimura are having good but not great seasons, and no one else has been as consistently strong as the dual LPGA-JLPGA members.  I’m not saying Park has a legitimate shot at taking both the LPGA and JLPGA money titles this year, but if she hadn’t caught fire on the LPGA I wouldn’t put it past her to have taken a serious run at the JLPGA’s Big 3.

As it is, what’s next for the JLPGA is the 40th playing of the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open this week.  And, yes, Virginia, Feng will be there to defend her title against the likes of, oh, everyone ahead of her on the money list except Park.  A successful title defense would most likely return her squarely into the top 10.  Let’s see if she can do it!  It would give her some serious momentum heading into the Japan Women’s Open the following week, which will feature the likes of Ya Ni Tseng, Na Yeon Choi, Ji-Yai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Mika Miyazato, Park, and the rest of the JLPGA’s finest, along with the typical bumper crop of teenage amateurs:  14-year-olds Minami Katsu and Rei Matsuda, 15-year-olds Kana Nagai, Maria Shinohara, and Moeno Tan, 16-year-olds Mayu Hosaka, Aya Ishikawa, Asuka Kashiwabara, and Haruka Morita, 17-year-old Akane Saeki, and 18-year-olds Hikari Fujita, Yuri Matsuda, Aoi Onishi, and Ai Suzuki.  Highly doubtful any of them will pull a Lydia Ko against a field like that, but we’ll see!

Kingsmill Championship Finale: Ji-Yai Shin Outlasts Paula Creamer for 1st LPGA Win since 2010 in Record-Breaking 9-Hole Playoff

Wow, what is there to add to that amazing 9-hole, 2-day playoff between a pair of players hungry for their 1st win in 2 seasons that extended the Kingsmill Championship to 81 holes?  Onechan’s favorite golfer, Paula Creamer, did just about everything she could to secure her 10th career LPGA victory, but in the end it was imoto’s favorite golfer, Ji-Yai Shin, who got LPGA win #9, crossed the $5 million mark in career earnings, and moved to the top spot in the race for the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average on tour.

So many golfers actually had a chance to win on Sunday, from relative unknowns like Karine Icher, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Danielle Kang, and Gerina Piller to veterans like Angela Stanford, Catriona Matthew, and Maria Hjorth to players in the prime of their careers like Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, and Azahara Munoz.  But they either started the day too far behind Creamer and Shin or succumbed to the pressure of getting close to them.  It was particularly painful for me to see my own favorite golfer Ai-sama finish so weakly after twice getting to -14 on the back.  Hey, but 3 rounds in the 60s and all 4 under par is a great way to head into the Ricoh Women’s British Open, which is probably her strongest major.

Really, though, nobody could keep pace with Shin and Creamer, who played really gritty golf down the stretch despite making uncharacteristic mistakes that opened the door momentarily to their lead chase pack.  For Creamer, it was an air-mailed approach shot on the 6th hole that ended an amazing run of 38 holes dating back to Friday during which she made 13 birdies and no bogeys.  But just as Shin suffered a bad stretch after her own 13-birdies-in-30-holes start–going +3 and birdieless in a 13-hole stretch from Friday to Saturday before getting it back in gear–Creamer had to suffer through an 8-hole stretch in which she went +3 and birdieless.  She bounced back with 2 birdies in a 4-hole stretch that brought her back to -17, but Shin showed her own resilience, as she recovered from back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11 with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 (and a near-miss for her 3rd in a row on 17).  Despite her heroics, she was still 1 shot behind Creamer as they stood on the 18th green.  It’s a cruel twist of fate that Creamer burned the cup on both her 72nd and 81st holes, coming in so hot both times that her ball actually slingshotted further away from each hole than it otherwise would have.

But you know what?  Given Creamer’s putting problems all season, I love that she had the confidence to take a run at both those 30-foot-plus putts.  Yes, she missed both comebackers and that was the difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  Still, for her to trade blows with a former world #1 for 45 holes-plus and nearly come out on top in the game of “anything you can do I can do better” showed me that “the old Paula” is back.

And just like we witnessed the return of the Pink Panther the last few days, we saw the Final Round Queen win her crown back.  She didn’t make it look easy like she did in the past, and her driver and putter weren’t as reliable during the playoff as we’ve come to expect from her.  But, man, what a display of mid-iron, hybrid, and fairway wood accuracy and distance control!  I know many are questioning the decision to play 18 over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, but it must have been amazing to watch the quintessential precision players fight a battle of attrition to a dangerous pin on a back-left shelf.  While it didn’t have the fireworks and eagle opportunities of the Manulife playoff that repeated on a short par-5 with an accessible but tricky pin position, what it did have was a total battle of nerves between 2 evenly-matched golfers.  I’m just sad 1 of them had to lose.

So this week’s WBO is shaping up to be an epic confrontation.  Along with Creamer, Inbee Park came within a shot of a JLPGA win, Na Yeon Choi finished a few shots behind KLPGA winner So Yeon Ryu, and Caroline Hedwall came back from injuries of her own to defend her LET title in Austria.  Looks like Lydia Ko’s impressive Canadian Open victory a little while back has lit a fire under the world’s best golfers.  Mika Miyazato continues to impress, Stacy Lewis is brilliant in stretches, Ai Miyazato seems close to putting it all together, and there are a bunch of Europeans, from major winners like Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist, and Catriona Matthew to up-and-comers or late bloomers like Azahara Munoz, Sandra Gal, Karine Icher, Beatriz Recari, Karin Sjodin, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Belen Mozo, and Pernilla Lindberg, who can take a lot of positives away from not only their most recent outing.  I can’t wait for this thing to start!

Kingsmill Championship Finale: Ji-Yai Shin Outlasts Paula Creamer for 1st LPGA Win since 2010 in Record-Breaking 9-Hole Playoff

Wow, what is there to add to that amazing 9-hole, 2-day playoff between a pair of players hungry for their 1st win in 2 seasons that extended the Kingsmill Championship to 81 holes?  Onechan’s favorite golfer, Paula Creamer, did just about everything she could to secure her 10th career LPGA victory, but in the end it was imoto’s favorite golfer, Ji-Yai Shin, who got LPGA win #9, crossed the $5 million mark in career earnings, and moved to the top spot in the race for the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average on tour.

So many golfers actually had a chance to win on Sunday, from relative unknowns like Karine Icher, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Danielle Kang, and Gerina Piller to veterans like Angela Stanford, Catriona Matthew, and Maria Hjorth to players in the prime of their careers like Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis, Mika Miyazato, and Azahara Munoz.  But they either started the day too far behind Creamer and Shin or succumbed to the pressure of getting close to them.  It was particularly painful for me to see my own favorite golfer Ai-sama finish so weakly after twice getting to -14 on the back.  Hey, but 3 rounds in the 60s and all 4 under par is a great way to head into the Ricoh Women’s British Open, which is probably her strongest major.

Really, though, nobody could keep pace with Shin and Creamer, who played really gritty golf down the stretch despite making uncharacteristic mistakes that opened the door momentarily to their lead chase pack.  For Creamer, it was an air-mailed approach shot on the 6th hole that ended an amazing run of 38 holes dating back to Friday during which she made 13 birdies and no bogeys.  But just as Shin suffered a bad stretch after her own 13-birdies-in-30-holes start–going +3 and birdieless in a 13-hole stretch from Friday to Saturday before getting it back in gear–Creamer had to suffer through an 8-hole stretch in which she went +3 and birdieless.  She bounced back with 2 birdies in a 4-hole stretch that brought her back to -17, but Shin showed her own resilience, as she recovered from back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11 with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 (and a near-miss for her 3rd in a row on 17).  Despite her heroics, she was still 1 shot behind Creamer as they stood on the 18th green.  It’s a cruel twist of fate that Creamer burned the cup on both her 72nd and 81st holes, coming in so hot both times that her ball actually slingshotted further away from each hole than it otherwise would have.

But you know what?  Given Creamer’s putting problems all season, I love that she had the confidence to take a run at both those 30-foot-plus putts.  Yes, she missed both comebackers and that was the difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  Still, for her to trade blows with a former world #1 for 45 holes-plus and nearly come out on top in the game of “anything you can do I can do better” showed me that “the old Paula” is back.

And just like we witnessed the return of the Pink Panther the last few days, we saw the Final Round Queen win her crown back.  She didn’t make it look easy like she did in the past, and her driver and putter weren’t as reliable during the playoff as we’ve come to expect from her.  But, man, what a display of mid-iron, hybrid, and fairway wood accuracy and distance control!  I know many are questioning the decision to play 18 over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, but it must have been amazing to watch the quintessential precision players fight a battle of attrition to a dangerous pin on a back-left shelf.  While it didn’t have the fireworks and eagle opportunities of the Manulife playoff that repeated on a short par-5 with an accessible but tricky pin position, what it did have was a total battle of nerves between 2 evenly-matched golfers.  I’m just sad 1 of them had to lose.

So this week’s WBO is shaping up to be an epic confrontation.  Along with Creamer, Inbee Park came within a shot of a JLPGA win, Na Yeon Choi finished a few shots behind KLPGA winner So Yeon Ryu, and Caroline Hedwall came back from injuries of her own to defend her LET title in Austria.  Looks like Lydia Ko’s impressive Canadian Open victory a little while back has lit a fire under the world’s best golfers.  Mika Miyazato continues to impress, Stacy Lewis is brilliant in stretches, Ai Miyazato seems close to putting it all together, and there are a bunch of Europeans, from major winners like Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist, and Catriona Matthew to up-and-comers or late bloomers like Azahara Munoz, Sandra Gal, Karine Icher, Beatriz Recari, Karin Sjodin, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Belen Mozo, and Pernilla Lindberg, who can take a lot of positives away from not only their most recent outing.  I can’t wait for this thing to start!

Here’s My Problem with the Cut at LPGA Q-School’s First Stage

As Tony Jesselli has already noted, Cheyenne Woods and 2007 LPGA Rookie of the Year Angela Park missed the 36-hole cut at the 1st stage of LPGA Q-School today.  Other players I’m following to fall on the wrong side of the +4 cut line included Lee Lopez, Moah Chang, and Susan Choi at +5, Maria Laura Elvira and Jillian Fraccola at +6, Rui Yokomine, Elena Robles, Keiko Kubo, and Maiya Tanaka with Woods at +7, Sally Watson at +10, Keiko Kiyomoto at +11, Kristina Wong at +12, and Violeta Retamozo at +32.  Now obviously those in double digits under par didn’t have a real chance to get into the top 60 after 72 holes.  But why cut a field of 240 down to 70 and ties after only 2 rounds?  Wouldn’t it have been better to go down to 120 and ties after 36 holes, 90 and ties after 54, and 60 and ties after 72? 

Right now we have 80 golfers playing for 60 spots over 36 holes.  That’s a lot of holes to eliminate at most 20 golfers.  And imagine if it had been exactly 70 players on the dot who made the cut!  36 holes to eliminate at most 10 golfers doesn’t make much sense to me–especially considering that in that scenario 170 were cut over the 1st 36 holes.

Let’s face it:  probably only 10% of the original Stage I field has a real chance to contend in the final stage of Q-School.  Even the top third are entirely capable of blowing up over 9 or 18 holes.  If they do worse than that, fine, try again next year.  But with such a draconian halfway point cut, the LPGA ran a real risk of losing some top-notch golfers.  And they did.  A more gradual series of cuts wouldn’t have ruled out losing some big names at some point.  But it would have been nice to see if at least some of them could have turned things around tomorrow!

What’s more, everyone paid a lot of money for the chance to compete.  Allowing half the field to at least play 54 holes seems fairer to everyone.

Here’s My Problem with the Cut at LPGA Q-School’s First Stage

As Tony Jesselli has already noted, Cheyenne Woods and 2007 LPGA Rookie of the Year Angela Park missed the 36-hole cut at the 1st stage of LPGA Q-School today.  Other players I’m following to fall on the wrong side of the +4 cut line included Lee Lopez, Moah Chang, and Susan Choi at +5, Tiffany Lua, Maria Laura Elvira, and Jillian Fraccola at +6, Rui Yokomine, Elena Robles, Keiko Kubo, and Maiya Tanaka with Woods at +7, Sally Watson at +10, Keiko Kiyomoto at +11, Kristina Wong at +12, and Violeta Retamozo at +32.  Now obviously those in double digits under par didn’t have a real chance to get into the top 60 after 72 holes.  But why cut a field of 240 down to 70 and ties after only 2 rounds?  Wouldn’t it have been better to go down to 120 and ties after 36 holes, 90 and ties after 54, and 60 and ties after 72?

Right now we have 80 golfers playing for 60 spots over 36 holes.  That’s a lot of holes to eliminate at most 20 golfers.  And imagine if it had been exactly 70 players on the dot who made the cut!  36 holes to eliminate at most 10 golfers doesn’t make much sense to me–especially considering that in that scenario 170 were cut over the 1st 36 holes.

Let’s face it:  probably only 10% of the original Stage I field has a real chance to contend in the final stage of Q-School.  Even the top third are entirely capable of blowing up over 9 or 18 holes.  If they do worse than that, fine, try again next year.  But with such a draconian halfway point cut, the LPGA ran a real risk of losing some top-notch golfers.  And they did.  A more gradual series of cuts wouldn’t have ruled out losing some big names at some point.  But it would have been nice to see if at least some of them could have turned things around tomorrow!

What’s more, everyone paid a lot of money for the chance to compete.  Allowing half the field to at least play 54 holes seems fairer to everyone.

[Update 1 (11:47 pm):  Here’s Brent Kelley‘s take.]

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Friday: Going Low and Going Home

It was truly the best of times and the worst of times at Grey Silo during the 2nd round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, which only ended a few minutes ago this morning, thanks to Thursday’s big storm and Friday’s big race to the finish, which saw all but 7 players complete their rounds as play was called for darkness at 9:22 pm. 

On the bright side, many golfers had great rounds Friday, including from the morning wave (when conditions were a bit easier) Stacy Lewis (bogey-free 64), Brittany Lang (65), and Nicole Hage (65), from the afternoon wave leader Inbee Park (64, -9), So Yeon Ryu (bogey-free 65), Karrie Webb (65), and Victoria Tanco (bogey-free 65).  In all, 13 players have gone sub-70 twice already, 28 have 2 sub-par rounds in a row, and 58 are under par for the tournament thus far.  There are 27 players within 5 shots of Park’s lead, including Shanshan Feng, who’s looking to make it 2 wins in a row, Hee Kyung Seo, who’s looking to come back from the disappointment of giving up a 3-shot lead with 5 holes to play at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Brittany Lang, who’s looking to turn her 2012 around, and huge names like Lexi Thompson (-7), Lewis (-6), Paula Creamer (-5), Suzann Pettersen (-4), and Amy Yang (-4), and Angela Stanford (-4).  Heck, Michelle Wie even made the cut!  (I’m particularly pleased to see one of my favorite golfers, Seon Hwa Lee, in the top 20 after 2 rounds, along with Jeon Jang!)  Even for those not tearing up Grey Silo as of yet, the cut line, which had been bouncing between E and +1 all day, ended up at +1, letting 79 golfers play into the weekend.  Among those saved were 3 Canadians, Lorie Kane, Alena Sharp, and Rebecca-Lee Bentham!

On the down side, many of my favorite golfers missed the cut, chief among them Ai Miyazato (74-75), Tiffany Joh (73-72), Hannah Yun (70-75), and Moira Dunn (69-76).  Moira took a quad and a triple on Friday and left the 9th green so frustrated she didn’t even recognize me.  The normally voluble and upbeat T-Joh could barely bring herself to shake my hand before heading back to the clubhouse with her group on the long cart drive back to the clubhouse after averaging 32.5 putts per round at Grey Silo and failing to birdie a single par 5.  (More on Ai-sama’s and Hannah’s rounds a little later.)  Other players for whom Waterloo turned out to be their Waterloo included Azahara Munoz (despite a Friday 68), Hee-Won Han, Pat Hurst (who opened with a 68), Christina Kim, Caroline Hedwall, Ryann O’Toole, Pernilla Lindberg, Jenny Shin, Mitsuki Katahira, and Samantha Richdale.  (More on O’Toole and Katahira later.)

OK, so I want to get to the 1st tee by 9:20 am to follow Na Yeon Choi, Mina Harigae, and Hanna Kang.  If I’m jinxing them, I can drop back to Momoko Ueda, Meena Lee, and Angela Oh behind them, or Morgan Pressel, Mindy Kim, and Anna Grzebien after them.  The key later group I want to follow is the Amy Yang, Seon Hwa Lee, and Angela Stanford trio at 11:30.  Given the state of my back and blisters and the fact that I’ve taken in enough sun the last 2 days to be radioactive–not to mention I need time to write up, like, a thousand posts–I’m going to be heading back to the media center to watch Golf Channel’s coverage from 3-6 pm.  So:  another long day.  Got to get ready to face it now!

Salonpas Cup Sunday: Sun-Ju Ahn Beats Morgan Pressel and Inbee Park in Playoff

For 43 holes, Morgan Pressel was making the Salonpas Cup look as easy as she did when she won the JLPGA’s 1st major of 2010.  Standing on the 8th tee, she was -12 and bogey-free in the weather-shortened event and things were looking up for her, as her playing partners were running into trouble on the front.  The golfer-formerly-known-as-The Final Round Queen, Ji-Yai Shin, had gifted her with a 2-shot swing, thanks to a double bogey on the 392-yard par 4 7th, to fall 4 shots behind Pressel, while 17-time JLPGA winner Mi-Jeong Jeon was +1 over her 1st 7 holes to also fall 4 back.  Sure, fellow LPGAer Inbee Park put together a sizzling bogey-free 32 from several groups ahead of them to join them at -8 and defending champion Sun-Ju Ahn had gotten within 2 shots of Pressel from the group ahead of theirs with a birdie on the 8th.  But it seemed like Pressel was cruising.

Then, much like the SHIELD flying fortress as the mind-controlled Hawkeye’s strike force started its attack in the Avengers movie, Pressel started losing altitude fast.  She bogeyed the 173-yard par-3 8th.  She bogeyed the 391-yard par-4 11th.  She bogeyed the 512-yard par-5 12th.  She bogeyed the 401-yard par-4 14th.  Meanwhile, Ahn, the JLPGA’s money-list leader for the past 2 seasons, was going through some turbulence of her own, with bogeys on the long par 4s 9 and 14.  Pressel and Ahn left the door wide open for Park, and for a while it looked like she was going to bust through it and never look back.  The 3-time JLPGA winner looking for her 2nd major on tour birdied the 188-yard par-3 13th and the 163-yard par-3 15th to get to -6 on the day and -10 for the week.  But then she, too, stumbled badly down the stretch, with back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th.  When she parred the 408-yard 18th to become leader in the clubhouse at -8, it looked like anything could happen.  Pressel and Ahn were starting to make pars again, Ahn’s playing partner Shanshan Feng had climbed to -8 after making 4 birdies and 3 bogeys in her 1st 10 holes and was hanging steady in a tie for the lead, and even Pressel’s playing partners Shin wasn’t out of it at -6, despite her bogeys on 11 and 14.  Heck, until Park stumbled through the finish line with a surprisingly disappointing 68, it looked as if Mika Miyazato’s early-morning 69 that brought her to -5 for the week might be good enough to put her into the mix!

To make a long story short, Feng bogeyed 16 and Ahn bogeyed 17 to fall to -7.  Pressel and Shin kept making pars on their heels.  When Ahn made an amazing walkoff birdie on 18 to join Park at -8, it was up to Pressel to beat them, join them, or leave the playoff to them.  She closed with her 4th straight par, but Ahn made quick work of both LPGA major winners with a 6-foot birdie putt on the 1st playoff hole.  With her 2nd Salonpas Cup title in a row, Ahn now has 9 JLPGA career victories and is back on top the 2012 money list.  Funny how 1 win, the result of back-to-back birdies, can erase what had been a lackluster start to the season for a player of Ahn’s caliber.

As for the other big names in the field, this was a very disappointing weekend.  KLPGA star Bo-Mee Lee, who’s focusing her efforts on the JLPGA this year, went 72-73 to finish 4 out of the playoff, Ai Miyazato went 73-73 to miss the playoff by 5 shots, displaced money-list leader Ritsuko Ryu went 71-76 to finish 8 back, Sakura Yokomine went 72-75 to fall 9 behind, last week’s winner Chie Arimura went 74-79 to end up 11 off the pace, and KLPGAer Ha-Neul Kim went 75-79 to finish next-to-last among those who made the cut (just ahead of the #2 player on the JLPGA career money list, Akiko Fukushima).  Even amateur sensation Moriya Jutanugarn had trouble on Sunday, barely hanging onto a tie for low amateur despite finishing with a 74.  At least they made it to the weekend:  Michelle Wie, Momoko Ueda, Teresa Lu, Harukyo Nomura, Bo-Bae Song, and Nikki Campbell all missed the cut, while Soo-Yun Kang had to withdraw, even though she opened with a solid 70.

So here’s how the money list looks after the end of the JLPGA’s 1st major:

1. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥33.60M
2. Mi-Jeong Jeon ¥27.93M
3. Ritsuko Ryu ¥24.99M
4. Bo-Mee Lee ¥22.60M
5. Hiromi Mogi ¥21.29M
6. Ji-Hee Lee ¥20.75M
7. Sakura Yokomine ¥20.39M
8. Kaori Ohe ¥18.82M
9. Mayu Hattori ¥17.70M
10. Chie Arimura ¥17.61M
11. Miki Saiki ¥17.31M
12. Maiko Wakabayashi ¥17.29M
13. Airi Saitoh ¥15.02M
14. Ji-Yai Shin ¥13.88M
15. Inbee Park ¥13.87M
16. Soo-Yun Kang ¥13.54M
17. Akane Iijima ¥13.45M
18. Ayako Uehara ¥12.10M
19. Rikako Morita ¥10.53M
20. Yuki Ichinose ¥9.02M
21. Rikako Morita ¥8.40M
22. Kumiko Kaneda ¥8.37M
23. Esther Lee ¥8.06M
24. Shinobu Moromizato ¥7.95M
25. Erika Kikuchi ¥7.91M
26. Yuko Fukuda ¥7.80M
27. Miki Sakai ¥7.71M
28. Teresa Lu ¥7.65M
29. Na-Ri Lee¥7.02M
30. Shanshan Feng ¥6.44M
31. Yuko Mitsuka ¥6.32M
32. Li-Ying Ye ¥6.32M
33. Erina Hara ¥6.31M
34. So-Hee Kim ¥6.18M
35. Yuri Fudoh ¥6.07M
36. Rui Kitada ¥5.72M
37. Young Kim¥5.64M
38. Eun-Bi Jang¥5.42M
39. Da-Ye Na ¥5.16M
40. Yumiko Yoshida ¥5.06M
41. Yukari Baba ¥4.75M
42. Harukyo Nomura ¥4.70M
43. Na-Ri Kim ¥4.69M
44. Saiki Fujita ¥4.10M
45. Nikki Campbell ¥3.95M

Shiho Oyama rejoins the tour next week at the Fundokin Ladies.  The only dual LPGA-JLPGA members to stay in Japan will be Shanshan Feng and Momoko Ueda (#89 on the money list).