Ariya Jutanugarn continues her steady play, sits solo second
In the season long Race to the CME Globe, Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko are locked in a neck-and-neck battle. And while Ko sits ahead of Jutanugarn by just over $4,000 for the money list title, Jutanugarn, who is solo second through two rounds of the TOTO JAPAN CLASSIC, has a chance to create space between herself and the 19-year-old heading into the final two events of the LPGA Tour season.
Jutanugarn will be paired with Shanshan Feng in Sunday’s final round, looking for her sixth LPGA Tour title of the season. Meanwhile Feng captured last week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and is looking for her second win in a row.
Jutanugarn, who fired a second-round four-under-par 68, made six birdies on the day, but her momentum was stalled with a couple of three putts.
“On the front nine I made a lot of putts and a few birdies. My putting was not that good on the back nine,” she admitted. “I had two not really good holes with three putts, but I made six birdies.”
Jutanugarn has been particularly fond of the grounds this week, saying she has never had spectators be this nice before.
But despite the jovial nature of her experience, and the pleasant idea of playing with Feng, she still realizes that there is business to take care of Sunday.
“I think she’s a great golfer and really consistent, but I’m just going to have fun,” Jutanugarn said of Feng. “Especially in the final round, anything can happen.”
Suzann Pettersen looks to end winless drought
After firing a six-under-par 66 Saturday in Japan, Suzann Pettersen sits tied for 3rd and just two shots back of the lead held by Shanshan Feng.
When the Norwegian tees it up Sunday, she’ll be looking for her first win on the LPGA Tour since 2013, but, she’s also just enjoying the moment.
“I’m trying to get wins around the world, wherever I go, so I’m definitely pumped to have a chance for one tomorrow,” she said.
Petterseon, who sits 21st on the money list, had a bogey-free day Saturday, with three birdies each on the front and back nine. She contributed her success to just giving herself chances all day.
“I’m playing some good golf these days,” she admitted. “I tried to keep the card clean and I think I managed to do so. Six birdies, playing well, and I’m excited to have a chance to win.”
She also is thriving on the atmosphere of the Japanese crowds this week, which, she noticed, were about 10-people deep on the opening hole.
“It’s been a while since I was last here, but it’s great to see such crowds for us to come back to year after year,” she said. “I’m happy to be here.”
Karrie Webb looking to make a charge
Karrie Webb, the veteran Australian, hasn’t played in six weeks.
But Saturday at the TOTO JAPAN Classic you wouldn’t have been able to tell as much.
Webb’s four-under-par 68 included seven birdies, and she moved up the leaderboard into a tie for 16th.
“I had a few loose iron shots, and a couple drivers on the back nine (which led to three bogeys) so it could have been a really good round, but I’m happy with where I’m at,” she said.
Webb, in the midst of her six-week break, took 10 days to go to South Africa on a safari, which she said was an ‘amazing time.’
“It’s nice to get a away from golf and being busy,” she admitted. “I put in a little bit of work before I came up (to Japan) but I didn’t have many expectations because it wasn’t a ton of work. It’s nice to see some putts go in and make a few birdies.”
Lydia Ko stalls, fails to make up ground
While, on paper, Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn are battling it out for the LPGA Tour’s top season-long prizes (the Race to the CME Globe and the money list title) this week, unfortunately for Ko, she’s got some ground to make up.
The New Zealander sits +1 for the tournament and is tied for 52nd. Her round Saturday included five birdies, but was offset by four bogeys, including two-in-a-row to start her day.
“I was able to get back from those two bogeys in my first two holes, and finishing off with a birdie on my 18th hole (the par-5 9th) was good, and summed it up for an under-par round,” she said. “It was good to get back to red figures for the day and hopefully I’ve got a lower one tomorrow.”