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JLPGA victory #13 was a long time coming for Shiho Oyama, but she made her luck in today’s final round of the tour’s final major, the Ricoh Cup.
Oyama started the day 1 behind 3rd-round co-leaders Bo-Mee Lee and Teresa Lu and fell 2 behind Lu when she bogeyed the par-4 4th, but from them on the day was hers. She birdied the 360-yard par-4 6th, the 397-yard par-4 7th, and the 185-yard par-3 8th before eagling the 490-yard par-5 9th. By the time she birdied the 500-yard par-5 11th and 495-yard par-5 13th, Oyama had extended her lead on Lu to 4 shots, on Sun-Ju Ahn to 5 shots, and on Lee to 8 shots. After 1 more birdie and a walkoff bogey, Oyama finished the day with a 66 and the week at -9. Lu and Ahn ended up with 71s to finish at -5 and -4, respectively, while Lee’s birdieless 75 dropped her back to -1 and a solo 4th.
Oyama’s victory was her 1st since 2011, her 2nd at this major, and her 3rd JLPGA major in all. Her 25 million yen paycheck bumped her into the top 10 of the JLPGA money list for the 1st time since 2008. What a great day and great week for the JLPGA star and ex-LPGAer who’s been dealing with a boatload of injuries since 2009!
But Oyama’s long-awaited victory was not the only story of the day. What about Ji-Yai Shin and Sakura Yokomine, who needed big Sunday charges to meet their goals for 2013? Shin’s Sunday charge consisted of a 4-birdie 70 that got her back to +1 for the week and into T5 with Na-Ri Lee. Most important, it moved her up to #47 on the tour’s 2013 money list, securing her membership for next season on both the LPGA and JLPGA for the 6th consecutive year. Yokomine’s charge consisted of a 5-birdie 70 which moved her to +3 and T7 for the week, 1 shot ahead of money-list leader Rikako Morita, who limped home with a 73 to drop to T12. But Yokomine couldn’t pass Morita on the money list in the end.
So although the JLPGA’s veteran stars (Yokomine, Miki Saiki, Mi-Jeong Jeon) and South Korean standouts (Ahn, Bo-Mee Lee, Jeon, Na-Ri Lee) had very good years, the biggest story of 2013 on tour was the emergence of a new breed of Japanese young guns (led by Morita, but also including Yumiko Yoshida, Mamiko Higa, Natsuka Hori, Yuki Ichinose, Ritsuko Ryu, Asako Fujimoto, and Erika Kikuchi just to name a few). And let’s not forget Teresa Lu–who broke through for her 1st major professional victory in her 8th year as a pro and 4th on the JLPGA–and did it at the Mizuno Cup so, like Shin, Momoko Ueda, and Shanshan Feng, will be a dual LPGA-JLPGA member in 2014.
Here’s how the 2013 money list ended up:
1. Rikako Morita ￥126.68M
2. Sakura Yokomine ￥125.37M
3. Teresa Lu ￥94.79M
4. Sun-Ju Ahn ￥91.11M
5. Yumiko Yoshida ￥89.51M
6. Miki Saiki ￥83.95M7. Bo-Mee Lee ￥80.84M
8. Mamiko Higa ￥78.66M9. Shiho Oyama ￥71.86M
10. Natsuka Hori ￥65.17M
11. Na-Ri Lee ￥64.48M