Yuka Saso fended off early struggle to win her second consecutive title of the 2020 LPGA Tour of Japan, taking the Nitori Ladies tournament win in Hokkaido, Sunday afternoon.
Historic is the win as the 19-year-old became the first rookie to win back-to-back championships in JLPGA tour history, also winning the NEC Karuizawa tourney last August 16.
Saso also brought home the top prize of PHP 16,500,000.
And Saso had to sweat this one.
The Filipina golfer ended with a 13-under 275 aggregate to power through the challenge of eventual runner-up Sakura Koiwai who gave her a tough time in the last two rounds of the tournament. The Japanese bet finished with an 11-under 277.
The 19-year old went into the afternoon’s final round with a one-stroke lead over Koiwai, but lost it after a double-bogey at the par-4 second hole.
Saso, nonetheless, bounced back with four birdies including a back-to-back in the sixth and seventh holes to close out the front nine back with the one-shot advantage with a score of 34.
With a precarious one-shot lead heading into the back nine, Saso took on the 12th hole, a par-3 one, in just two strokes to pad on the lead over the hometown bet Koiwai at two strokes.
It turned out to be the title-clinching hole for the Filipino bet as the two almost went stroke-for-stroke in the remaining six holes of the course.
The 2018 Asian Games gold medalist became the season’s first back-to-back winner after the CAT Ladies 2020 tournament slated on August 21-23 was also canceled.
Japan’s Ayaka Watanabe was the only other winner of the year so far.