Saso chases down Fortuna for crown
Yuka Saso gunned down three birdies in the last six holes and watched Mikha Fortuna stumble to snatch the 2018 Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies crown at Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite, Friday.
The late surge lifted Saso to a 2-under-par 70 and a two-shot victory over second round leader Fortuna, who went three-over in that span for a 74 that pulled her down to second place.
Staring at a three-shot deficit and pulling her drive in front of a tree on the 13th hole, Saso pulled through with a lob shot from 70 yards that sailed past the obstacle and landed three feet off the cup for birdie.
In high spirits, Saso blasted a power drive on No. 14 then made one pitch and one putt for another birdie. The Filipino-Japanese had a three-putt bogey on No. 15, but still equalized as Fortuna double-bogeyed following an errant drive and three putts.
The 16-year-old Saso seized the lead on No. 16 after Fortuna missed a 5-footer for par then finally sealed her first Ladies title with a closing chip-in birdie that gave her a 54-hole total of 209. Fortuna, who surged in front with a 65 Thursday, wound up with a 211.
Saso wound up second and third place, respectively, in the two previous editions of the event organized by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.
“I never expected to win. Mikha was playing well but I got my own game going at No. 13 and that’s when I got the needed confidence,” said Saso, who also won the Philippine Amateur Stroke and Match Play crowns and the national junior title last year.
Though disappointed with her foldup, Fortuna promised to join next year’s edition.
“I’ve learned a lot here. But these things happen in golf. I’ll just try again next year,” said Fortuna.
Thai Pinkaew Trachuentong carded a 74 and placed third at 214, one up on dethroned champion Bianca Pagdanganan, who carded a 71 for 215. —ROY LUARCA