Saso fights back with 67, fin­ishes tied for 8th spot

BusinessMirror - - Sports -

YUKA SASO played true to form on Sun­day but her gal­lant ef­fort of 67 fell short as the twotime win­ner on the cur­rent Ja­panese Ladies Pro­fes­sional Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (JLPGA) Tour wound up tied for eighth in the Des­cente Tokai Clas­sic topped by Ayaka Fu­rue via play­off in Aichi.

Saso erased the bit­ter me­mory of her one-over 73 card in the se­cond round and birdied three of the first five holes. She then top­pled a bo­gey on No. 6 with three more birdies in the last 10 holes of the Shin­mi­nami Coun­try Club’s Mi­hama course.

The 19-year-old Filipino-ja­panese put to­gether an eight-un­der 208 for a top 10 fin­ish after strug­gling for joint 29th in the Golf5 Ladies and shar­ing 13th place in the Ja­pan LPGA Cham­pi­onship fol­low­ing her sweep of the NEC Karuizawa and Ni­tori Ladies crowns.

Saso’s strong fin­ish is bound to give her mo­men­tum for the cir­cuit’s se­cond ma­jor leg, the Ja­pan Women’s Open set from Oc­to­ber 1 to 4 in Fukuoka.

The In­ter­na­tional Con­tainer Ter­mi­nal Ser­vices Inc.-backed Saso, who won the driv­ing honors Satur­day worth Y500,000, pock­eted Y1.87 mil­lion (P870,000) 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. But 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.

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.

The Can­lubang pro checked a roller­coaster back­side start with three birdies against a bo­gey in a 10-hole stretch from No. 15 to move to joint 21st. But she bo­geyed the par-5 No. 7 and dropped an­other stroke on the par-4 ninth to tum­ble down the leader­board with a 142, 10 strokes off Reid.

Steady off the mound for the se­cond straight day, Ar­dina hit all but one fair­way but groped with her irons and short game, fail­ing to reach reg­u­la­tion six times al­though she made up for the strug­gle with splen­did putting, fin­ish­ing with 29 putts.

Bianca Pag­dan­ganan also pooled a 142 after a sim­i­lar 72 marred by three bo­geys in the first five holes. But she fought back with four straight birdies from No. 9 al­though a bo­gey on the 18th stalled her charge.

Still, it was enough for her and Ar­dina to move to the fi­nal round of the 54-hole cham­pi­onship, mark­ing the fourth straight time that the SEA Games dou­ble gold medal­ist has made the cut in her rookie sea­son.

Reid, mean­while, took charge with a solid 65 for a 132, two ahead of erst­while joint leader Han­nah Green of Australia, who shot a 68 for a 134 with Korean Amy Yang and Amer­i­can Amy Ol­son at joint third at 135 after a 66 and 68, re­spec­tively.

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