Filipino-Japanese golfer Yuka Saso punctuated her return to action with a pair of eagles that highlighted her six-under par 65 final round performance in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Sunday (Monday in Manila) at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Northwest Arkansas.
The reigning US Women’s Open champion Saso eagled two of the four par 5s of the par-71 layout – holes 7 and 18 – which propelled her to finish in joint 4th to 5th places in the $2.3 million tournament.
Saso, currently the world No. 7 ranked player and third in the money list order, finished with an aggregate score of 199 in the three-day, 54-hole event after also tallying a second round 65 and 69 on opening day.
A participant in the previous Tokyo Olympics in Japan, the 20-year-old Saso placed tied with world No. 8 Danielle Kang of the US, two shots behind Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, who claimed the title with a final round 67.
Hataoke, who lost to Saso last June in a three-hole playoff for the US Women’s Open, totaled 197 for 16-under in the tournament, beating Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea and Minjee Lee of Australia as both finished with 198.
Eun-Hee had a final round 67, while Lee scored a 68.
Stacy Lewis and world No. 2 Jin Young Ko ended in a tie for sixth at 201 or 12-under, while eight players finished tied for eighth to 15th 202, including 2017 Walmart NW Arkansas champion So Yeon Ryu.
Saso, in her first tournament after she took a rest for almost a month following a tie for 39th in the Women’s British Open Championship in Scotland, bagged a total prize money of $104,506, or approximately P5.22 million.
In an interview with LPGA.com, the Asian Games double gold medal winner Saso said she was glad to get two eagles.
“I had probably like 230 (yards) to the flag (on No. 7), help wind. Had 5-wood probably like 50 or 60 feet putt, left to right. Pretty long putt. It was pretty good, and went in. Maybe lucky,” said Saso.
“On 18 I got to like 210-215 to the flag, into. I had a 5-wood again, and actually after I hit I said, ‘Good.’ So I hit pretty good shot and had two eagles today,” Saso added as she also collected birdies on 6, 12, 15 and 17, while her bogeys were on holes 11 and par-5 14.
Fellow Filipino players Dottie Ardina and Bianca Pagdanganan also had decent finishes in the final round, as the former had a 68 (tied for 56th) while the latter had a 71 (tied for 74th).
The 27-year-old Ardina cashed in $5,923 or about P296,150, while the 23-year-old Pagdanganan received $4,188 or roughly P209,400.