Yuka Saso took the best dished the talented Thais and Sofia Chabon could dish out and proved again she’s better, keeping the Champion Philippine Ladies Amateur Open crown in runaway fashion at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Forbes Park on Thursday.
Saso never let her rivals get no closer than three strokes with superb driving and near-impeccable iron shots, producing five birdies against a bogey then settling for routine pars in the last three holes to cruise to a five-shot victory over Yosita Khawnuna at six-under 207 in the 54-hole championship presented by Champion.
“There’s nothing special with my win. I just played steady and I’m happy I made it for the second straight time,” said the reigning Asian Games gold medalist, who surged ahead by three with back-to-back 70s Wednesday.
Khawnuna turned in a decent 69 but just couldn’t keep pace with the unflappable Fil-Japanese, who birdied Nos. 4 and 6 then added three more at the back against a bogey. The Thai, who tied Saso and Mafy Singson after 18 holes but fell behind by three in the second round, wound up with a 212.
Chabon likewise stayed in the background all throughout in the featured flight, failing to get her game going and finishing with a 70 for third with 215 in the event organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.
Chantee Wannasaen placed fourth at 217 after a 73 while compatriot Natthakritta Vongtaveelap shot a 72 for fifth at 223 in the event sponsored by Hana Shampoo, EVA Air, San Miguel Corp. and Diamond Motor Corp.
Aussie Olivia Kerr shared the spotlight by claiming the Class A diadem with a 252 while Ina Guingona took the Class B plum with a 281.
Saso’s victory was in stark contrast to her previous win at the Orchard last year where she rallied from three down to beat Mikha Fortuna by two. And it will surely boost her confidence as she goes up against an elite field, including world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park, in the inaugural The Country Club Ladies Invitational on March 6-8.
“This is a big morale boost heading to the TCC Ladies,” said Saso. “I hope to make it.”
Other backers of the event were EVA Air, San Miguel Corp., Elmer Ngo, Inquirer, Pascual Laboratories, the National Golf Association of the Philippines and the ladies chapters of Alabang, Forest hills, Tagaytay Highlands, Sta. Elena, Canlubang and Manila Golf clubs with Vermogen, Sports + Action and Sports U channels of ABS-CBN.