Second straight Japan LPGA win nets Yuka Saso P16.5M

Yuka Saso came out on top by two strokes at the Nitori Ladies Golf Tournament at the Otaru Country Club in Hokkaido to claim her second Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) crown on Sunday.

With the win, Saso pocketed Y36 million (around P16.5 million).

The Philippine golfer maintained a precarious one stroke advantage going into the fourth round over closest rival Sakura Koiwai in the fourth round. Despite a double bogey in the second hole, Saso was able to maintain the one swing cushion with four birdies in the front nine.

Sakura trailed by two strokes going into the final hole, but could only match Saso with a par as the Filipina claimed victory. Saso finished the round with a one-under-par 71 to bring up her score to 275 after 72 holes, while Sakura finished with 277.

Saso opened up the tournament in fine form with a five-under-par 67 performance through four birdies and an eagle. The Asian Games gold medalist followed that up with a three-under-par 69 with three birdies.

The 19-year old Filipina rookie actually held a four stroke lead in the third round, but a slow back nine performance saw Sakura creep in within one stroke before the final day. Despite the slowdown, Saso ended the third round with a four-under-par 68 to go 204 after 54 holes.

It is Saso's second JLPGA win after conquering the NEC Karuizawa championship two weeks ago, where she scored a 16-under 200 and a four-stroke victory worth Y14,400,000 (around P6.6 million).

This isn't the first time Saso has performed in the clutch. During the 2018 Asian Games, the then-17 year old -- alongside now-LPGA pro Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Go -- led the Philippines to a gold medal after a clutch eagle in the final hole of the competition.