To say that it was a tough day for LPGA of Japan tour rookie Yuka Saso is an understatement.
The two-time season champion survived mishaps throughout the course in Ehime to still manage to end the 2020 Daio Paper Elleair Ladies Open inside the top three as the tournament closed Sunday afternoon at the Elleair Golf Club Matsuyama.
Saso gathered an aggregate of 9-under 275, six strokes behind the 15-under 269 of eventual-winner and now three-time champion Ayaka Furue of Japan, to pocket 6.5 million yen (PHP 3,018,754).
Expected to wax hot right off the gates, the 19-year-old immediately encountered a roadblock in the very first hole. Saso needed an extra shot just to continue to move on.
After the reigning Asian Games champion negated that bogey with a birdie in the sixth, she stumbled yet again and double-bogeyed the following hole to slip into 2-over 37 at the end of the front nine.
Saso tried to bounce back in the final nine holes, but only managed to take pars along with a birdie in the 14th and another bogey in the 12th.
South Korea’s Min-Young Lee came out of nowhere to snag the second place spot after a huge 5-under 66 in the day and 12-under 272 for the tourney. Japanese Erika Kikuchi on the other hand shared the third-place spot with Saso.
Furue bagged the 18-million yen winner’s pot and takes over the lead in the Mercedes Ranking with 1,131.78 points, which is just 82.93 points above Saso’s 1,048.85.
Saso looks to end her rookie year in JLPGA on a rousing note as she takes on the final tournament of the tour — the JLPGA Tour Championship Ricoh Cup, which starts on Thursday at the Miyazaki Country Club which is 300-kilometers south of Ehime.