Yuka Saso, in her first tournament since deciding to compete as a Japanese player, limped home with a one-over-par 73 and finished sixth in the season-opening LPGA Tournament of Champions won by American Danielle Kang in Florida on Sunday.
The reigning US Women’s Open champion started well with birdies on 5th and 7th holes that pulled her within shot of two-day leader and world No. 1 Nelly Korda after starting the day three shots behind.
But things went awry for the Fil-Japanese as she bogeyed the next two holes. She also bogeyed the 14th that all but ended her comeback bid as Kang continued her charge.
Saso finished with a four-day total of 9-under 279, seven shots off Kang who fired her second 68.
Still it was a fruitful stint for Saso in the 29-player field as she collected $65,479 prize (roughly P3.27 million). Only the winners in the LPGA the last two years were invited to play in the rich event.
In winning the event, Kang
Kang, who started the final round one shot adrift of Korda, reeled off six birdies and two bogeys at the Lake Nona Golf and Country Club.
It was the 29-year-old’s first LPGA title since her victory at the Marathon Classic in 2020, taking her tally of career victories to six.
Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who carded a closing two-under-par 70, finished three shots adrift on 13 under, one ahead of Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who could only card a level-par 72 in her final round.
France’s Celine Boutier finished six strokes off the pace, tied with Nelly Korda for fourth spot.
Korda’s hopes of starting the year with a victory evaporated with a three-over-par 75.
Korda, who led after the second and third rounds, was never able to get going and drifted out of the reckoning after an early bogey on the fourth hole and a bogey on the 10th.
Although Korda regained a shot with a birdie on the 15th, back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th sent her sliding back down the leaderboard.
Nelly Korda’s sister Jessica was in seventh place with a closing 72, finishing on eight under at 280. (AFP)