Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club
Shima-Shi, Mie, Japan
Second-Round Notes and Interviews
November 9, 2013
Shiho Oyama -8, Rolex Rankings No. 81
Yuki Ichinose -8, Rolex Rankings No. 94
Mamiko Higa -8, Rolex Rankings No. 54
Brittany Lincicome -7, Rolex Rankings No. 38
Chella Choi -6, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Stacy Lewis -5, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Three JLPGA members are in position to become just the 10th Japanese player to win the Mizuno Classic as they share the lead heading into Sunday’s final round. First-round leader Shiho Oyama, Yuki Ichinose and Mamiko Higa lead the field at 8-under 136 and edge Asako Fujimoto and LPGA Tour member Brittany Lincicome by one stroke.
Oyama maintained her lead as she posted her second 4-under 68 round at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club. The 13-year JLPGA veteran says luck is on her side as she seeks her 13th career victory.
“I came this far so I’m definitely going for it tomorrow,” said Oyama. “My caddie this week caddied for Bo-Mee Lee and she won last week so I think the luck is on my side. Hope to make the best out of tomorrow with my partner.”
Ichinose and Higa entered Saturday’s round in a tie for 11th after posting 2-under 70s during the opening round. Higa’s blemish-free 6-under round brought her to 8-under for the tournament while Ichinose carded seven birdies and one bogey to take a share of the lead.
“My putting felt really comfortable before the round and that gave me the confidence to play strong today,” said Ichinose, who earned her first JLPGA victory earlier this year. “I really enjoyed today’s round with Mamiko Higa, if she makes birdie then I make birdie, it was just like that all day.”
Sitting one stroke behind the leaders is Brittany Lincicome, whose stress-free 4-under-par 68 round brought her within striking distance heading into tomorrow’s round. Lincicome nearly carded her first bogey of the day on the par-5 18th hole when she overshot the green on her third stroke. Lincicome pitched her fourth shot 12-feet past the hole, but drained the putt to save par.
Lincicome is looking to end a two-year winless drought this week as she seeks to capture her sixth-career LPGA victory. Her latest win came at the 2011 CN Canadian Women’s Open when she was one-stroke off the lead heading into the final round and defeated Stacy Lewis by one-stroke. Lincicome says she prefers a come-from-behind victory and is comfortable in the spot she’s in this week.
“It’s nice to be up there,” said Lincicome. “Being in the last group always adds a little pressure. Not being in the last group, I think I play best or I’ve won the most from. It will be fun to go out tomorrow. If I keep doing the same things I’ve done the last two days, it should be really close. It should be a good Sunday.”
A group of four currently sits in a tie for sixth place at 6-under and includes Taiwan native Teresa Lu, Japan’s Junko Omote and South Korea’s Chella Choi and Eun-Bi Jang.
Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis made a charge up the leaderboard and fired a 4-under 68 to sit in a five-way tie for 10th at 5-under 139.
Familiar spot… Defending champion Stacy Lewis seems to enjoy come-from-behind victories. At the 2012 Mizuno Classic, Lewis trailed JLPGA member Bo-Mee Lee by seven strokes heading in the Sunday’s final round, but carded ten birdies and two bogeys to win by one stroke.
Heading into the final round, Lewis trails a group of three JLPGA members by three strokes, but says she’s not intimidated being in her position.
“Yea it’s kind of similar to last year when the first two days I just couldn’t really drop many putts,” said Lewis. “But hopefully tomorrow the gap kind of opens up a bit. But I’ve done it before so I know it’s possible.”
Lewis tends to prefer come-from-behind victories, as two of her three victories this season were won in the dramatic fashion. She says she knows exactly what to do in the final round for a successful title defense.
“I just want to go out there and make some birdies, play smart,” said Lewis. “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.”
Of note… Haeji Kang withdrew due to pain in her wrist… 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…
Shiho Oyama, Rolex Rankings No. 81
Q. The groups in front of you were playing well before your start but how did you feel?
SHIHO OYAMA: I knew Stacy and Yuki Ichinose were climbing the board but I didn’t feel any pressure though, instead it made me focus my own golf to hit a low score.
Q. Two days you finished on the top, how’s the last day going to be?
SHIHO OYAMA: I came this far so I’m definitely going for it tomorrow. My caddie this week caddied for Bo-Mee Lee and she won last week so I think the luck is on my side. Hope to make the best out of tomorrow with my partner!
Yuki Ichinose, Rolex Rankings No. 94
Q. How was your round?
YUKI ICHINOSE: My putting felt really comfortable before the round and that gave me the confidence to play strong today.
I really enjoyed today’s round with Mamiko Higa, if she makes birdie then I make birdie, it was just like that all day.
Q. How motivated are you for the win?
YUKI ICHINOSE: I really want this second win! I know I have to hit a low score in order to win tomorrow but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. All I’m going to do is keep my rhythm and keep my feelings strong.
Mamiko Higa, Rolex Rankings No. 54
Q. Talk about your round today.
MAMIKO HIGA: I’m very satisfied that I finished with no bogey today. I really enjoyed my game today because the course is in great condition and the green is just beautiful.
Q. How excited are you that you have a really big chance in challenging the USLPGA tour?
MAMIKO HIGA: Not just this tournament but in any tournament, of course I want to win. But there are just so many things that I still need to work on or take to a higher step no matter how I finish tomorrow, I know I’ll get something out of this tournament.
Brittany Lincicome, Rolex Rankings No. 38
Q. Better round today? Four birdies, no bogeys, one-shot off the lead. How’d it go out there?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Again, I drove the ball horribly. I mean, I was finding the fairway every time but I was just still swinging scared again. My drives were going really high instead of really far. Both girls in my group were outdriving me, which is not normal. But I was finding the fairways so I’m not complaining. I just made a few putts here and there. I didn’t have too many stressful holes until I got to 18. That was the only long putt that I had to make for par.
Q. Talk about that last hole. Had to chip on from the back of the green and make a lengthy putt to save par. Yesterday you were saying you were a bad chipper, what was going through your mind during that chip?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It’s hard though, when you sit there and think, I’ve had a really great round. Let’s not do anything to screw it up. So if I duff the chip and leave it short, I’d have to chip it again, that’s obviously harder than trying to make that 10- to 12-footer to save par. I kind of told myself to just get it on the green, I’ve been putting really well so we’ll see what happens.
Q. Well you’re just one-shot off the lead right now. What are your thoughts on heading into tomorrow knowing that?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It is exciting. I was kind of looking at the leaderboard all day unfortunately, which is something I never do. Obviously, it would have been nice to make one more birdie coming down the stretch but that didn’t happen. It’s nice to be up there. Being in the last group always adds a little pressure. Not being in the last group, I think I play best or I’ve won the most from. It will be fun to go out tomorrow. If I keep doing the same things I’ve done the last two days, it should be really close. It should be a good Sunday.
Q. I noticed when you were warming up for your putt while Teresa wsa putting, you went over to the edge of the green and switching different grips while you practiced your putt. Is that something you’ve always done?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yea, I go to the side of the green where it kind of goes inside to inside so I can practice my stroke. It’s more so just trying to keep my head still. My head has been moving all over the place lately and I feel like if I can keep it really still then I hit a better putt. So I always just go to the side to practice that. It’s more of like a superstition. Like if I don’t go to the collar of the green before I have to make my putt then I feel like I’ll miss it. So it was nice that she putted before me and I got a few seconds to collect my thoughts.
Q. You’ve been playing with some JLPGA all week. They’ve provided some tough competition.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yea, I mean they’ve been waiting all year for this event when we come over. It’s a really big event for them I would imagine. They’ve all been stepping up their game, so it’s fun to see. It’s not going to be easy coming into tomorrow.
Chella Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Q. You carded 7 birdies and 4 bogeys today, last one coming on the last hole. Talk about your day.
CHELLA CHOI: It was a really bad up and down day. I missed some shots and some greens today. But I think my shot is good and my condition is good. So I think hopefully tomorrow better. I think it’s mental.
Q. Do you mean you get nervous about being up there in the leaderboard? Or what do you by that?
CHELLA CHOI: No, like I don’t know. A couple shots are like a little bit draw but I would miss on the left side. I think maybe the wind is confusing.
Q. Has your dad said anything about heading into tomorrow? Giving you any motivation?
CHELLA CHOI: I want my first win with my father. He say we are in good position with two shots behind. I think better than leading score. So hopefully I do my best tomorrow.
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Q. You’re 4-uner for the day, 5-under for the tournament. Obviously today was a little bit better than yesterday?
STACY LEWIS: Yea it was. I got off to a lot better start. I hit the ball a little bit better, which was nice. I had a lot of putts on the edge. So, I mean I played really well. Definitely could have been better. Hopefully, I’m not too far back heading into tomorrow.
Q. Right now it’s looking like 4-shots behind should the leader stay at 9-under. Last year, you went into the final round 7-shots behind and came out as the winner. Being in this position doesn’t necessarily intimidate you. You tend to do really well in this position, when you’re coming from behind.
STACY LEWIS: Yea it’s kind of similar to last year when the first two days I just couldn’t really drop many putts. But hopefully tomorrow the gap kind of opens up a bit. But I’ve done it before so I know it’s possible.
Q. Thoughts going into tomorrow?
STACY LEWIS: I just want to go out there and make some birdies, play smart. 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.