Saso blows bid with 75, settles for sixth
Yuka Saso
STAR/ File

Saso blows bid with 75, settles for sixth

Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso blew her stab at glory with a run of misfortunes, hobbling with a three-over 75 to end up joint sixth in the JLPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup ruled by Erika Hara in emphatic fashion at the Miyazaki Country Club in Miyazaki Prefecture yesterday.

Staying within three shots off Hara with pars in the first four holes, Saso faded with three straight bogeys from No. 5 on errant shots and a poor short game. Though she fought back with birdies on Nos. 8 and 10, disaster struck the Fil-Japanese, who overshot the par-5 11th on her second shot, needing to use her left hand to extricate herself out of a bad lie from under a tree.

She landed in the bunker and blasted way off target for another bogey that all but dashed her hopes for at least a third place finish that would make her the first player to hit Y100 million in earnings after 14 tournaments.

Instead, her four-under 284 total dropped her to a share of sixth with three others, six strokes behind the lanky Hara, who bucked a bogey on the par-5 second with at three clutch pars from long range.

But in a latest JLPGA advisory, the 2020 season will be extended to early next year with the circuit to add more events to make up for the cancellation of some tournaments this year due to the global health crisis, keeping the ICTSI-backed Saso’s drive for the Player of the Year honors.

Hara, meanwhile, went on to birdie Nos. 6, 10 and 13 to pull away from a rallying Ayaka Furue and clinch her second major despite two bogeys in the last five holes for a 72 and a 278 following her victory in Japan Women’s Open last October.

The 21-year-old Hara banked the top purse of Y30 million and moved to No. 3 in the Player of the Year derby which Furue continued to lead on a strong closing 68 to snatch runner-up honors in the Y120 million final event for the year worth 300 points at 280.

Furue, who started the final round at joint 10th after a woeful 75 Saturday, pooled 1,371.78 points, frustrating Saso, who settled for measly 98 points for 1,146.85 points in their fierce battle for the Player of the Year diadem.

Hara assembled 1,049.32 points for third.

Saso received Y4.638 million for her joint sixth place effort but kept the lead in the money rankings before the year ends with total earnings of Y93,891.170.

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