To say that it was a rousing debut for Yuka Saso in the LPGA Tour of Japan is an understatement.
The 19-year-old golf standout concluded her first year in one of the most prestigious women’s golf circuits at second overall in points and with the biggest money winnings, as the JLPGA Championship Ricoh Cup closed the season, Sunday afternoon at the Miyazaki Country Club.
Saso bucked the late surge of the Ricoh Cup winner Erika Hara to keep her second-place finish at the year-end Mercedes Rankings at 1,146.85 points against the latter’s 1,049.32.
Ayaka Furue came from behind to finish in second in the final tournament and walk away with the top plum with 1,371.78 points.
The 2018 Asian Games champion earned a season-best Y93,891,170 (P43,399,246.73). Furue also ended up with Y90-million while Hara ended with Y70.7-million.
After a round-best 69 the previous day, Saso was in high spirits to finish the season with a win.
Nonetheless, three straight bogeys in the fifth to seventh holes pushed her down the field after her stints at the first few holes saw her peaking at a tie for second place.
Saso recovered in the following hole with a birdie and then took on the 10th with one less hit. Under pressure, she then missed on the 11th and 17th holes with two more bogeys closing her day at 3-over 75 for a total of 4-under 284.
Hara shook off struggles to take the final winner’s trophy and the 30-million prize money with a 10-under 278, two strokes ahead of Furue.
Saso will fly to the US to participate in the 2020 US Women’s Open with 2018 Asiad teammate Bianca Pagdanganan.
The world championship will take place from December 10 to 13 in Houston, Texas.