Yuka Saso could not complete a comeback, but her valiant effort saw her take a share of fourth place as the 2021 LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup concluded at the Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, New Jersey, Sunday (Monday morning, Manila time).
The reigning US Open champion had a golden chance to capture her second title in LPGA for the season. She was just four strokes away from Ko Jin-young, whom she played alongside for the final round.
Instead, Saso encountered an early setback when she needed two more strokes just to tackle the par-4 No. 3, which forced her out of the top 10 immediately.
That ended up as a back-breaker for her championship aspirations as she could not gain shots and had to settle for pars. Her lone birdie in the front nine at No. 8 was not enough, since she saw it quickly negated by another dropped shot in the immediate following hole.
The two-time LPGA of Japan champion is not a champion for nothing, though. She proved her mettle in the backside. Saso came up with birdies at Nos. 11, 13, and 15, for a chance at a solo take of third place after Caroline Masson of Germany sealed the second place at that point.
The 20-year-old standout almost did just that. Unfortunately, though, her attempt at an eagle missed the hole and then slipped a little further the target. Her succeeding birdie putt was likewise unsuccessful as the ball bounced off the edge of the cup, forcing Saso to settle for the par.
Nonetheless, Saso zoomed into 14th place in the Race to CME Globe rankings and added $138,664 (P 7,029,016.82) to her earnings.
Dottie Ardina on her part had a slightly better closing round as she went 2-under 69 for the day. She finished with a total of 3-under 281 and a share of 33rd spot. The 31-year-old also took home $17,756 (P 901,349.86).
The Filipino veteran golfer could have ended a little higher, but a double-bogey at No. 8 also pushed her down the standings. Nonetheless, her five birdies scattered throughout the course were enough for her best performance of the tournament at 2-under 69.
Ko became the fifth South Korean player to win at least 10 LPGA titles when she completed the wire-to-wire conquest of the tournament with a near-perfect 5-under 66 for the day.
The 26-year old ended with a total of 18-under 266 and bagged the $450,000 (P22,817,700) winner’s prize.