Three JLPGA members are sharing the lead at the Mizuno Classic heading in to the final round on Sunday. Yuki Ichinose and Mamiko Higa joined first-round leader Shiho Oyama at the top of the leaderboard on Saturday. All are at -8-under for the tournament, 1 shot ahead of Asako Fujimoto and LPGA Tour member Brittany Lincicome.
First round leader Oyama, who yesterday modestly demurred when asked about her chances of a victory, said after completing her 2nd round that she’s “definitely going for it tomorrow.” The 13-year JLPGA veteran carded a 2nd round of 68. She’s playing steady golf and making few mistakes.
I think the luck is on my side.
Shiho Oyama, Going Into the Final Round at the Mizuno Classic
Carding 66, Ichinose and Higa both outplayed Oyama on Saturday. Ichinose laid down a string of birdies on the front 9 that put her even with the leader at the turn. Higa was a bit slower to turn up the heat. She pulled even with Oyama on the 16th hole and signed a bogey-free 2nd round. Although the trio has a slim, 1-shot lead, going in to the final round all three are in position to become just the 10th Japanese player to win the Mizuno Classic.
Asako Fugimoto and Brittany Lincicome, both at -7 for the tournament and one shot off the lead, pose the most immediate threat to the leaders.
Lincicome & Lewis
Lincicome, who started the Mizuno with a spectacular eagle on the first hole of the first round, repeated her clutch golf demonstration on the 18th hole of the 2nd round. Lincicome played steady, bogey-free golf throughout the 2nd round, staying within striking distance but not quite able to sink the putt that would have put her even with the leaders.
Then she overshot the par-5 18th green, pitched her 4th shot well past the hole, and was facing a bogey and the loss of a precious stroke. She drained the long putt to save par. Going in to the final round with a single shot deficit, Rolex Ranked 38th Lincicome is still positioned to end a two-year winless drought. A win at the Mizuno would put a 6th LPGA victory on her resume.
Rolex Ranked No. 3 Stacy Lewis could be nicknamed the Come-From-Behind Kid. Lewis, who also played a bogey-free 2nd round, is languishing a bit below the leaders. She carded a 2nd round score of 68 and at -5 for the tournament, is still 3 shots off the lead. Nevertheless, she’s in a better position than she was last year. At the 2012 Mizuno Classic, Lewis trailed JLPGA member Bo-Mee Lee by seven strokes heading into
Sunday’s final round, but carded ten birdies and two bogeys to win by one stroke.
I got through bogey-free today and I only missed two greens, so I’m playing good golf. I just need some putts to go in tomorrow.
Lewis seems to enjoy come-from-behind victories. Two of her three wins this season came in the dramatic fashion. She says she knows exactly what to do in the final round for a successful title defense, and she’s shown again and again that she knows exactly how to do it. With 18 holes remaining, don’t count her out.
Chasing Titleholders Spots
Julieta Granada (-5), Lisa McCloskey (-4) and Hee-Won Han (-4) lead the hunt for three of the final six spots available for the CME Group Titleholders. Paraguay’s Granada, ranked 96th by Rolex, is playing shot-for-shot even with Stacy Lewis and looking good for a solid final round at the Mizuno.
McCloskey, an American, carded a bogey-fee 2nd round score of 67 and outperformed South Korean Han, who stumbled through the 2nd round and carded 71. All three will need to play solid and error-free on Sunday to nail down the Titleholders spots.
The third-annual season finale will be held Nov. 21-24, 201 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
LPGA rookie Ayako Uehara continued to struggle in the middle ranks on the leaderboard. Rolex Ranked 80, Uehara carded a 1st round score of 73 and a 2nd round score of 71, so she’s going into the final round at even par. This may not be the homecoming performance Uehara envisioned, but she’s a rookie and, like Brooke Pancake, still settling into the rhythm of the Tour.