Yuka Saso finishes at 32nd as Atthaya Thitikul wins in playoff

Yuka Saso’s bid of a first title in almost a year slipped from her grasp after floundering with a closing five-over-par 76 to finish at joint 32nd place in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Arkansas Sunday, Sept. 25 (Monday in Manila).

Yuka Saso (AFP)

Trailing Thai rookie Atthaya Thitikul by only one stroke at the start of the final round, Saso found herself losing her touch after a second-hole birdie by struggling with four bogeys and a double bogey on the 15th to finish with a three-round total of 205.

The Tokyo Olympian, who appeared flawless with bogey-free rounds of 64 and 65, couldn’t sustain that momentum and finished nine strokes behind Atthaya and Danielle Kang’s identical 196s.

The Thai had four birdies for a final-round 68 while Kang, playing her third tournament since June after treatment for a tumor on her spine, surged up the leaderboard with a 64.

Eventually, Atthaya rolled in a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to edge Kang for her second LPGA title.

It was another disappointing finish for Saso, who hasn’t won a title since capturing the US Women’s Open crown in 2021.

Slipping in the ranks from a career-high No. 5 to 33 this week, she hasn’t been into the Top 10 of the tournaments since January.