Superal wavers, falls back with 73
HYOGO – Princess Superal came charging back at the back but lost a precious rung with a last-hole mishap, finishing with a 73 and dropping to joint 40th in the third round of the LPGA of Japan Tour Final Qualifying Stage at the Tokyu Grand Oak Golf Club here Thursday.
She fell farther back from joint 35th at the start of the round with a two-over card after nine holes but rallied with back-to-back birdies from No. 13 and almost scored an ace on the 17th for another birdie that negated her bogey on No. 15.
But the former US Girls Junior champion holed out with another missed green bogey that marred her up-and-down 38-35 card, dropping her two strokes off the top 20-plus bracket for full cards in next year’s circuit.
“I hit a lot of birdies but had a rollercoaster round,” said Superal, who nearly made a hole-in-one on the 150-yard No. 17 when her 6-iron tee-shot grazed the hole and stopped two feet past for easy birdie.
But she miscalculated her approach shot from 155 yards on the closing par-4 18th, hitting it short by 20 yards. She pitched to within seven feet but muffed a downhiller to match her opening round output.
With a 216 total after 54 holes, Superal slipped to a share of 40th with six others, two shots adrift of the 10 players bunched at 22nd at 214, guaranteeing a wild, wild chase in Friday’s final 18 holes of the culmination of the grueling four-stage qualifiers held at various courses since August.
“It’s tough but she needs to shoot a four-under to have a chance. She remains hopeful but must put it all together tomorrow and be able to minimize her mistakes,” said coach Bong Lopez, whose ward, however, is assured of a spot in next year’s Step Up Tour, the farm league of the LPGA of Japan Tour.
After a birdie-less 73 in the first round, Superal wheeled back into contention with a 70 Wednesday but failed to sustain her momentum with a wobbly start at the tougher frontside of the 6456-yard layout carved out in a hilly area in the southeastern part of Tojo Lake. She fumbled with three bogeys against a birdie after nine holes but pressed her bid with birdies inside eight feet on Nos. 13 and 14 after trading birdie from 10 feet on No. 11 with a three-putt miscue on the par-3 12th.
Two-day leader Mizuka Suzuki also lost her touch after a strong 66-68 start, limping with a bogey-marred, birdie-less 77 to tumble to joint seventh at 211, now three strokes behind new leaders Aoi Onishi and Mio Kotaki in their battle for top honors.
Onishi shot a 70 while Kotaki carded a 71 to wrest a one-shot lead over Yoko Maeda and Erina Hara, who fired a 69 and 71, respectively, for 209s with Hana Wakimoto and Mizuki Tanaka pooling identical 210s after a 70 and 71, respectively.