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Toto Japan Classic: Saso winds up joint 34th; Inami triumphs

MANILA, Philippines, November 6 ------ Yuka Saso crashed with a faulty start but fought back five birdies in the last 13 holes but her 71 dropped her to joint 34th in the Toto Japan Classic won by local ace Mone Inami in Omitama, Ibaraki. Targeting a solid start coming off a third round 67, Saso instead went on a bogey slide, dropping strokes in the first four holes and needed to flash resiliency and birdie Nos. 6, 7, 13, 15 and 17 to rescue a 71. But she fell 10 spots from a previous share of 24th with a 13-under 275 total, nine strokes behind Inami, who hit a clutch birdie on No. 17 and finished with a 69 to beat Seon Woo Bae, who shot a 67, by one with a 22-under 266 total.

The Korean actually tied Inami on top in a flight head, also after a birdie on the penultimate hole, for a five-under card. But Inami regained the lead with her own birdie and clinched the victory with a closing par. Third round co-leader Shiho Kuwaki carded a 71 and tied Bae at second. Nasa Hataoka, who joined Kuwaki on top after 54 holes, limped with a 74 and fell to joint eighth at 270.

Meanwhile, Saso will take another break in this week’s The Annnika drive by Gainbridge at Pelican tournament in Belleaire, Florida to prepare for the money-rich CME Group Tour Championship on November 16-19 in Naples, also in Florida. Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina will see action in the Annika tilt with the former hard-pressed to put up a strong showing and keep her spot in the Top 60 of the Race to CME Globe for a chance to compete in the $7-million event.

The ICTSI-backed Pagdanganan is currently at No. 57 boosted by her strong showing in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship where she tied for third, and in The Ascendant LPGA benefitting Volunteers of America, where she tied for second.



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