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Bo-Mee Lee finished 2nd on the JLPGA money list last year on the strength of 3 victories; this season, she’s won only once and is 10th on the money list. After a 7-birdie 66 today in the 2nd round of the Hisako Higuchi Morinaga Weider Ladies, Lee finds herself at -8 and 1 shot ahead of Sun-Ju Ahn and Mayu Hattori, 2 shots ahead of Shanshan Feng, Soo-Yun Kang, and Na-Ri Kim, and 3 shots up on Ji-Yai Shin, Asako Fujimoto, and Ayaka Watanabe.
Yesterday’s leader Yuki Sakurai, who shot a bogey-free 66 to kick off the tournament, barely made the cut after a disastrous birdie-less 79. But she’s not alone in struggling in Chiba. A whole host of talented players–including living legend Yuri Fudoh, struggling stars like Shinobu Moromizato, Yuko Mitsuka, Bo-Bae Song, Akane Iijima, and Rui Kitada, and rising stars like Erika Kikuchi, Natsuka Hori, and Misuzu Narita–missed the cut on moving day. Tied with Sakurai at +1 are Mika Miyazato, Ritsuko Ryu, Maiko Wakabayashi, Kumiko Kaneda, Kaori Ohe, and Saiki Fujita, among others. Money-list leader Rikako Morita is 8 shots back. Ji-Hee Lee and Mamiko Higa are 7 off the pace. Sakura Yokomine, Momoko Ueda, and Miki Saiki are 6 behind Lee. It’s just tough out there.
But that means that any of the leaders can stall or fall back, too. Let’s see if Yuki Ichinose or Erina Hara can make a charge tomorrow from 4 back, or even if last year’s money list leader, Mi-Jeong Jeon, who’s also the defending champion and a 3-time winner here, can pull one out from 5 back.
A win or top-3 finish by Ahn, Jeon, or Lee would give them a good chance to break up the 2-player race between Morita and Yokomine for money-list title. Lee won the Konica Minolta Cup when the final round was washed out last month by beating Mamiko Higa in a playoff. Let’s see if she can get a non-asterisked win in 2013 on the JLPGA. Meanwhile, Feng, Shin, and Ueda are fighting to get or stay in the top 50 on the JLPGA money list and keep their cards for 2014. So there’s a lot at stake for a lot of the leaders tomorrow. Whatever happens, it should be an exciting finish!