Saso rallies with 67, ends up joint 8th
Yuka Saso
STAR/File
Saso rallies with 67, ends up joint 8th
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso recalled her fierce form a bit late but her closing 67 still snapped a skid following back-to-back title romps in the LPGA of Japan Tour, finishing tied for eighth in the Descente Tokai Classic topped by Ayaka Furue via playoff in Aichi yesterday.

The 19-year-old Fil-Japanese came out smoking from a one-over 73 card in the second round, birdying three of the first five holes and rebounding from a bogey mishap on No. 6 with three more birdies in the last 10 holes of the Shinminami Country Club’s Mihama course.

Though her final round blitz hardly made an impact in the title race, Saso, who assembled an eight-under 208, still emerged more than satisfied to turn in a Top 10 finish after struggling for joint 29th in the Golf5 Ladies and a share of 13th in the Japan LPGA Championship following her sweep of the NEC Karuizawa and Nitori Ladies crowns.

Her strong finish is also expected to give her some kind of momentum as she primes up for the circuit’s second major – the Japan Women’s Open slated Oct. 1-4 in Fukuoka.

The ICTSI-backed ace, who won the driving honors Saturday worth Y500,000, pocketed Y1.87 million and kept the No. 1 ranking in the money race with Y63.964 million after six legs. Earth Mondahmin Cup winner Ayaka Watanabe regained the No. 2 spot with Y52.228 million while Japan LPGA Championship titlist Saki Nagamine improved to third with Y45.184 million.

Saso, who also firmed up her hold of the Mercedes Player of the Year top spot with 687.35 points, actually appeared headed for a big weekend after kicking off her campaign with a 68 despite a 31-putt performance Friday but failed to check her putting woes for the second straight day, ending up with 32 putts for a 73 Saturday.

The rest of the contenders, meanwhile, sustained their scoring binge with Furue and Hiroko Azuma firing identical 68s to finish tied on top at 15-under 201. The 20-year-old Furue, who actually topped the Fujitsu Ladies as an amateur last year, birdied the first playoff hole on No. 18 to claim her maiden pro victory worth Y14.4 million.

Taiwanese Pei-Ying Tsai placed third at 215 after a 69 while 16-time JLPGA winner Ai Suzuki carded a 71 to tie Saso at eighth with two others.

Over in the US, Dottie Ardina blew a two-under card in a wobbly frontside windup, ending up with a 72 and slipping to joint 43rd in the Cambia Portland Classic of the LPGA Tour now paced by England’s Mel Reid in Oregon Friday.

YUKA SASO
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