‘Yuka Magic’: Saso tops 2nd straight Japan LPGA Tour title, bags P16.5M
MANILA, Philippines — Yuka Saso fired a one-under-par 71 in a rain-delayed final round and held her nerve in a you-or-me showdown against Sakura Koiwai to rule the Nitori Ladies golf tournament by two strokes Sunday at Otaru Country Club in Hokkaido, Japan.
Saso, the 2018 Asian Games champion, finished the tournament at 13-under 275 and bagged the top prize of 36 million yen (about P16.5 million) after winning her second event on the prestigious Japan LPGA.
Koiwai fired an even 72 in the final round for a 277 aggregate.
Saso started poorly with a double bogey on the 355-yard par-four second hole, which Koiwai parred the hole to take a one stroke lead. The two were tied again on the next hole after a bogey there by Koiwai.
The 19-year-old Saso then birdied the 535-yard No. 6, where she hit a brilliant approach to within eight feet of the hole and buried the putt to retake a one-stroke lead. Saso eventually stretched that lead to two shots with a birdie on the par-3 No. 12.
Saso kept Koiwai at bay in the succeeding holes with both coughing up bogey on 15. But the 22-year-old Koiwai, who is from Hokkaido, eventually blinked with a bogey on 16 to fall behind by three.
Saso’s cash windfall also allowed her to leapfrog Ayaka Watanabe on the Mercedes money rankings as she pushed her total to 59,040,000 yen (about P27.1 million).
Kana Mikashima (71), Lee Ji-Hee (74), and Mayu Hamada (76) were tied for third at 285, 10 shots behind Saso. A stroke below were Saki Nagamine (73), Shiho Oyama (74), and Chie Ariemura (76).
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