Thursday, June 20, 2019
JAPAN GIRLS TAKE LEAD, POISED FOR REPEAT AT TOYOTA JUNIOR GOLF WORLD CUP
South Africa boys continue dominance, take 9-shot lead into final day
TOYOTA CITY, Japan (June 16, 2019) – Japan moved into position to claim the girls’ crown at the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup supported by JAL for a second consecutive year Thursday, using another 4-under-par 68 from Miyu Yamashita to move out to a three-shot edge heading into the final day.
Tsubasa Kajitani added a bogey-free 69, helping Japan finish Thursday at 7-under 137 for the best daily total in the girls’ division. Their total of 13-under 419 is one stroke off the three-day total for last year’s winning team.
The United States and Mexico were tied for second at 10-under, as a 67 from Cory Lopez helped Mexico move within striking distance. Even so, both lost ground to the host nation.
“They’re just playing good golf,” said Japan coach Saori Iwamoto. “They don’t look too much at what the other girls are doing. They haven’t said anything about not wanting to lose or what they think about the other teams.”
South Africa’s boys, meantime, followed up a historic Round 2 with an even better one – combining for a 19-under 194 that was five strokes better than 24 hours earlier. They departed Chukyo Golf Club with a nine-shot cushion over Japan, which also beat the South Africans’ second round.
On Wednesday, South Africa’s 199 marked the first time in at least a dozen years that a team had posted a round under 200.
“The boys played unbelievable,” said South Africa captain Eden Thompson. “They’ve done what we asked them to do. We always reference about just managing the manageables and the rest will take care of itself.”
At 38-under-par 601, South Africa is already 15 strokes against par better than Denmark’s winning total a year ago. Samuel Simpson also holds a three-shot advantage in the individual competition, following up Wednesday’s 65 with a 63 to reach the 54-hole checkpoint at 15-under 198.
Australia’s Cassie Porter and Korea’s Siwoo Chung share the girls’ lead at 8-under 208. Porter’s 67 on Thursday matched Lopez for the best round of the tournament, while Chung bogeyed two of her final three holes to open the door.
“Whoever can make putts, that’s what’s going to get you into first place,” said U.S. girls coach Lauren Giesecke. “It’s also about staying grounded and not trying to get greedy. Stay patient and keep playing your own game.”
That’s been the formula for the Japanese girls, who changed their approach after a slow start and have improved their team score each day.
“Our first strategy was to have a really good score on the first day,” said Iwamoto. “That did not go well, so we changed the strategy. We told them to do the best they can do and try to get a little better every day.”
Yamashita has been key to the rise, rebounding from an opening 74. That came just days after competing in the Suntory Ladies’ open on the Japan LPGA, where she finished in a tie for 34th.
Lopez birdied four of her final seven holes on the way to Thursday’s 67, including a tap-in birdie on her final hole.
“I finally made some putts,” said Lopez, who also lurks one stroke behind Porter and Chung for the girls’ individual lead. “I hit the ball closer to the flags today.”
The United States shot just 3-under on the day, with Rose Zhang posting a 70 and Michaela Morard carding 71.
Simpson, meantime, showed no signs of slowing down after Wednesday’s 65. He birdied three of his first four holes, chipped in for eagle at the short par-5 ninth and added three more birdies after the turn.
“I just wanted to go out and play some decent golf,” said Simpson. “I wound up holing that chip shot at No.9 to make the turn at 5-under – just kind of a ‘Wow!’ and take everything as it comes.”
Japan got a 65 from Yuta Sugiura – one of just two boys with all three rounds in the 60s. But the big move came from Takara Oshima, who rebounded from a 76 on Wednesday to shoot 7-under 64.
“He wanted to score too badly the first two days,” said Japan coach Hideyo Nishigai. “The coaches told him you’ve got to do one shot at a time. You can’t just want it. Birdies are the result of good shots.”
Spain, which led the first day and trailed by one at the midway point, couldn’t keep pace despite its third consecutive daily total of 204. They found themselves 11 shots off the pace at 27-under 612.
*Final round tees off tomorrow, Friday at 8:00 AM.