Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Saturday: Rikako Morita Makes a Huge Move


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If the leaderboard in the LPGA’s final event of the season lacks a little star power and its end of the season races a whole lot of drama, then golf fans looking for both would do well to pay attention to the JLPGA the next couple of weeks.  On moving day at the Daio Paper Elleair Ladies, Rikako Morita, who has led the JLPGA’s money list for most of the season but who recently has been passed by Sakura Yokomine, birdied 8 of her 1st 15 holes to leapfrog not 1, not 2, but 5 former money-list leaders.  Even though she bogeyed the 165-yard par-3 16th, she bounced right back with a birdie on the 479-yard par-5 17th to extend her lead to 2 shots on living legend Yuri Fudoh (-3 through 15 today, -10 overall), 3 on Momoko Ueda (-2 through 15), 4 on Yokomine (-4 through 17), Ji-Hee Lee (-4 through 17), and Sun-Ju Ahn (-2 through 16), and 5 on Ritsuko Ryu (66), Onnarin Sattayabanphot (-3 through 16), 1st-round leader Shiho Oyama (-3 through 15), and 2nd-round leader Yukari Baba (+1 through 15).  Let’s see how this leaderboard looks when I wake up!

[Update 1 (12:16 am):  This is too exciting!  Morita parred 18 to go 31-33-64 and finish at -12.  Ji-Hee Lee birdied her last 2 holes to post a 67 and get to -9.  Yokomine parred 18 to post a 68 and finish at -8.]

[Update 2 (12:19 am):  Other 68s:  Mamiko Higa (now -6), Erina Hara (-5), Kumiko Kaneda (-3), Soo-Yun Kang (-2). Saiki Fujita shot a 70 to fight back to E and get into the top 30 (at least for now).  Hard to tell where she needs to finish to knock Ayako Uehara into Q-School or out of the JLPGA in 2014.]

[Update 3 (12:21 am):  Mihoko Iseri (71, -4) also has a good chance of passing Uehara on the money list.]

[Update 4 (12:25 am):  Ahn had bogeyed 15 and 16 but bounced back with a birdie on the easy 17th (which has given up several eagles this week already).  She’s still at -8.  Asako Fujimoto, who had gotten a hole in 1 on the 172-yard 3rd, just birdied 17 to move to -3 on her day and -7 for the week.]

[Update 5 (12:26 am):  Ouch, Oyama bogeyed 17 to fall back to -6 with Higa.]

[Update 6 (12:28 am):  Ueda eagled 17 in the 1st round.  Can she do it again?]

[Update 7 (12:29 am):  Yukari eagled 17 in the 2nd round.  Can she do it again?]

[Update 8 (12:31 am):  Fudoh has yet to birdie 17 this week.  Can she break that streak?]

[Update 9 (12:33 am):  Shout-outs to Bo-Mee Lee (69) at -5 and Teresa Lu (71) at -4.  If they can match or better Morita’s moving day performance in the final round, they might have a shot at a victory here, too.]

[Update 10 (12:35 am):  Hiroko Azuma (72, -2) and Ji-Woo Lee (70, E) will also need huge moves Sunday to make it into the top 50 on the money list.]

[Update 11 (12:37 am):  Fudoh’s futility on 17 continues; she’s joined at -10 by Ueda, who birdied it.  Baba stayed at -7, failing to get under par on 17 for the 1st time all week.]

[Update 12 (12:43 am):  Wow!  Fujimoto birdied 18 to follow up her birdie on 17 and posted a 68 to finish at -8.  But Ahn bogeyed her last hole, falling to -7 after bogeying 3 of her last 4 holes.  And Oyama ended the day at -6, 6 shots off the pace set by Morita, after parring 18.]

[Update 13 (12:46 am):  It’s just occurring to me that the JLPGA usually turns off live-scoring during TV coverage of the leaders coming down the stretch.  They’ve been having some problems with their live leaderboard this week; maybe they can’t shut it down?  Or maybe the tournament’s not being televised?]

[Update 14 (12:55 am):  Fudoh bogeyed 18 to drop to -9; Ueda’s par leaves her the only other player than Morita double digits under par; Baba’s par leaves her 5 back.  Here’s how the top of the leaderboard now looks:

-12 Morita (64)
-10 Ueda (69)
-9 Ji-Hee Lee (67), Fudoh (70)
-8 Yokomine (68), Fujimoto (68)
-7 Ryu (66), Sattayabanphot (69), Ahn (71), Baba (73)
-6 Higa (68), Oyama (70)
-5 Hara (68), Bo-Mee Lee (69), Na-Ri Kim (70)

Pretty impressive!]

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