Kaneko first amateur to make Fields cut
|||South Korea's Jang leads Fields Open|
By Bill Kwon
Special to The Advertiser
By Bill Kwon
KAPOLEI — You won't find a more contrasting tale of players with sponsor's exemptions than in the LPGA's Fields Open in Hawai'i.
In one corner there's Michelle Wie, a professional with $12.5 million in endorsements.
Then there's amateur Ayaka Kaneko, a high school senior who is looking forward to playing collegiate golf at Pepperdine.
Both are products of Hawai'i's fine junior golf program. Both are 18 years old. And both are tied at 2-under 142 going into today's final round at the Ko Olina Resort.
Kaneko was ecstatic that she made the cut (144) — her first in four LPGA tries.
If anything, Wie was simply relieved in finally making her first LPGA cut since the Evian Masters last July. This week's Fields Open is her 41st LPGA event.
How they got to 2-under after 36 holes — 10 strokes behind leader Jeong Jang — is also a study in contrast.
Whether she was hitting driver or 3-wood, Wie was shaky off the tee, hitting only 50 percent of the fairways (14 of 28). Kaneko hit four more fairways, and although shorter in length, her drives were more consistent.
Wie's round was simply an adventure, especially at the par-4 11th hole when she yanked her tee shot "a little left." The ball stopped inches short of the road and out of bounds. It was on the curb, actually, according to Wie, who, along with her fans, were scared she'd re-injure her wrist attempting the shot.
Not only did the marshals have to stop those in the gallery, they had to stop traffic.
Still, Wie nearly saved par after what she called "one of the best shots I hit" all day. She finished with a 1-over 73.
Kaneko's 70 was less adventurous and she made the most of her round, according to her caddie, Clark Miyazaki.
"She putted well and played the par-5s well again. She's getting the yardages good and that helps," Miyazaki said.
"I'm so happy," Kaneko said about making her first LPGA cut. As for today, she doesn't just want to enjoy the final round, "I want to make more putts."
Starting on the back nine, she bogeyed her first hole but made the turn at 2-under 34 with three six-foot birdies at 11, 13 and 15, the latter the sweetest of them all, considering she had triple-bogeyed the hole the day before.
The Sacred Hearts Academy senior said she made a "good bogey" at the second hole after the turn and then birdied the par-5 fifth for the second day in a row. She went to 3-under after nearly holing out No. 7, but bogeyed her final hole of the day, the 416-yard ninth, when she couldn't get to the green in regulation from the right rough.
Kaneko made the most of her sponsor's exemption by becoming the first amateur to make the cut in the Fields Open.
"They give me a great chance. I'm very happy to play in this tournament," Kaneko said. "Hopefully, I make more birdies (today) and have a great finish."