Saso ties for 10th; former Korean No. 1 reigns anew
Yuka Saso
STAR/File
Saso ties for 10th; former Korean No. 1 reigns anew
Dante Navarro (Philstar.com) - October 18, 2020 - 5:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso heated up late but ran out of holes in her comeback bid, settling for joint 10th with a closing two-under 70 in the Fujitsu Ladies 2020 topped by former Korean No. 1 Jiyai Shin in Chiba Prefecture, Japan Sunday.

Five strokes proved to be too big a deficit to overcome for Saso, who failed to get going despite calm conditions at the Tokyu Seven Hundred Club course, missing a couple of birdie chances before closing out her frontside stint with a bogey-birdie roll.

The ICTSI-backed power-hitter gunned down two birdies against a bogey after six holes at the back then rebounded from another bogey mishap on the treacherous par-5 16th with back-to-back birdies to save a 34 and a 70.
Her strong windup likewise salvaged Saso a Top 10 finish in the 54-hole, Y100 million event although she wound up the way she started the round, five shots off the pace with a 214 total, which included an opening 70 and a 74 in the rain-hit second round. She pocketed Y1.935 million (roughly P900,000).

Shin, meanwhile, pounced on erstwhile leader Saki Asai’s frontside struggle (37) and took charge with a 35 then then she flashed vintage form to pull away with three birdies in the first seven holes at the back for a 69-209 and a two-stroke victory over compatriot Bae Seon Woo and last year’s champion Ayaka Furue.

It was actually Shin’s only third tournament in the pandemic-shortened JLPGA season although it was the 25th JLPGA title for the 32-year-old ace, who had racked up 11 LPGA Tour victories, six titles in the Ladies European Tour and 21 championships back home in a checkered pro career.

She groped for form and wound up tied for 40th in Japan Open then shared 12th place in Stanley Ladies.

After matching Saso’s opening 70, Shin moved into contention with another two-under card she highlighted with an ace on No. 4 Saturday.

Woo carded a 70 on four birdies against two bogeys while Furue, winner of the Tokai Ladies Classic last month, rallied with a scorching 66 for joint second at 211.

Asai, who wrested control with a brilliant 67 in wet, tough conditions Saturday, cracked under pressure and hobbled with a 73, ending up joint fourth at 212 with Mamiko Higa and Yuna Nishimura, who shot identical 68s, and Jeon Mi-Jeong (70), also of Korea.
Asuka Kashiwabara and Mone Inami, winner of the weather-shortened Stanley Ladies last week, tied for eighth at 213 after a 69 and 71, respectively.

If any consolation, Saso, who has never contended for the crown after sweeping the NEC Karuizawa and Nitori Ladies titles last August, bested arch rival Sakura Koiwai in the placing as the latter finished tied for 12th with a 71, spiked by an eagle on No. 16 but marred by a bogey on the last for a 215.

Koiwai, who foiled Saso’s three-title bid with a victory in Golf5 Ladies, dislodged the Fil-Japanese in the Player of the Year derby on a runner-up finish in Japan Women’s Open. She remained on top of the POTY race after nine tournaments with 863.86 points with Saso still in second with 808.85 points.
Saso, meantime, firmed up her lead in the money rankings with a total of Y68,115,250 with Koiwai in second with Y56,456,142 and Earth Mondahmin Cup winner Ayaka Watanabe at third with Y54,615,500.

Over in Florida, Dottie Ardina struggled with a 76 and finished tied for 54th with a 227 in the Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship of the Symetra Tour won by Finnish Matilda Castren (71-207) in wire-to-wire fashion Saturday.

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